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Alienated Wonder and Corrupt Suspicion: The Hanna Score

As effortless as the hint of steam slowly rising from Hanna’s gutted beast, the Chemical Brothers’  score for Hanna combines a childlike wanderlust with a pulsating adrenaline that sets the tone for the themes of the film. Overtly, Hanna is an assassin-thriller film ripe with action and suspense, but covertly, it is a reflection of the concepts between good and bad, naivete and experience, and the ability to tightly walk the line between them. What the Chemical Brothers have done is take the shifting lights and angles, and perceptions of visibility directed through the film and completely altered them to create a mind-blowing score that is both quintessential Chemical Brothers album and nothing of the sort.

The unique spectrum the score spans while extrapolating each scene’s mentality is diverse, but also how the score can project a feeling into a scene and an audience is beyond the spectrum that most scores try to stay. While Hanna awaits the CIA agents to come find her, the music for the agents creeping into her isolated forest home could have been a delicate, suspicious, almost creepy-sounding style, but instead the Chemical Brothers come in full force with heavy bass, chaotic sounds and searing beats. At first, it might seem out of place––erratic even––but the score has the ability to alter consciousness than run with expectations, and that turns out to be its defining quality. The music is interesting and beautiful, the expression is inventive, but what is best is that it seems to have been created in a vacuum, absent from all other influences and perceptions of what a given moment should sound like. Even in defined plot ideas like Hanna’s suppressed empathy and compassion, those characteristics still creeping into her subconscious, albeit robotically and mechanically, are not as concrete as they might appear. When Hanna shoots the deer in the opening scene, she utters ‘I missed your heart’, opening a window to realize her humanness, which is than quickly slammed shut as she shoots it in the head. Again, this is seen at the final stand off between Hanna and Marissa Weigler, leaving one to wonder if she can only be an automaton or can rise through her alienation and into ‘normal’ life through this subtle misstep. It could be argued ‘no’ because she was designed a certain way, but this battle of expectation seems to take place in the score as well: ‘What is human nature?’, ‘Is there a line drawn along moral ambiguity?’ The juxtaposition of these alternating ideas is sometimes comically made in the film––’The Devil is in the Details’ is the infectious, doll-sounding theme of the deranged mercenary sent to kill Hanna from his perch atop his Alps-themed strip club––while bloodcurdlingly made in others––’The Sandman’s tinkering piano keys are composed from nightmares as again the merciless killer peers into a tent of children.

Hanna is a film whose abrupt stylistic shifts and emotionally alienated characters are redefining the intrigue of why audiences see thrillers, and the score lends to that. The Chemical Brothers have created this through sheer talented, exhibited on the brilliant ‘The Devil is in the Beats’, submerged thought, ‘Escape 700’, and the awe-inspiring ‘Hanna’s Theme’, calculating all honest intents, underlying devils, and clever ideas into one all-consuming score. Using ever-present techniques, the Chemical Brothers sculpt the Hanna score into the burnished, alienated hybrid that it needed to be.

Kaitlin McNabb

Track Listing

  1. Hanna’s Theme
  2. Escape 700
  3. Chalice 1
  4. The Devil is in the Details
  5. Map Sounds/Chalice 2
  6. The Forest
  7. Quayside Synthesis
  8. The Sandman
  9. Marissa Flashback
  10. Bah hof Rumble
  11. The Devil is in the Beats
  12. Car Chase (arp worship)
  13. Interrogation/Lonesome Subway/Grimm’s House
  14. Hanna vs Marissa
  15. Sun Collapse
  16. Special Ops
  17. Escape Wavefold
  18. Isolated Howl
  19. Container Park
  20. Hanna’s Theme (vocal version)