VALIANT – George Fenton

Original Review by Alan Rogers

Valiant is a CGI animation co-produced by the creators of Shrek that follows the fortunes of a little wood pigeon as journeys from being just a lowly, though patriotic, wood pigeon to full-blooded World War II hero. Notable as being the first CGI-animated feature produced in the UK and featuring a “stellar cast” of voices (including Ewan McGregor, Tim Curry & Hugh Laurie), cinema audiences weren’t too enthused about cartoon avian heroes pitting their wits against the dreaded enemy and the movie only recovered a fraction of its budget. George Fenton was brought on board this project and provided a score that services the movie well but just isn’t very original.

What is obvious from the start is that Fenton’s score is designed establish the listener (and viewer) firmly in World War II; and specifically in the World War II of Ron Goodwin’s wartime movies and Eric Coates’ The Dambusters. Track 1, “Valiant”, sets the tone immediately with brass fanfares and regimented snare drum rolls that evoke all the patriotism of traditional British WWII movies. And this is carried through to the next cue, “March of The R.H.P.S.”, with its massed whistling ensemble. After firmly establishing the setting, Fenton provides a variety of themes for the action; a patriotic theme for the Royal Homing Pigeon Service, a tender love theme and a theme for the evil German falcon force. The rest of the score provides numerous variations of these themes which, unfortunately as a listening experience, amounts to a listen that lacks much variety. What variety that there is can be found in the cues that feature different musician ensembles.

Track 5, “Arrival At Camp”, features The Syd Lawrence Orchestra and gives us an effective big band swing jazz number that summarises well most of the ideas that Glen Miller and His Orchestra played to such great effect during WWII. And to round off the CD, The Central Band of the Royal Air Force (under the direction of Squadron Leader Duncan Stubbs) gives us a rousing rendition of the R.H.S.P. march. R&B star Mis-Teeq’s performance of “Shoo Shoo Baby” on the final track isn’t as out of place as it sounds. With some multi-track vocals, sounding something akin to a modern-day Andrew Sisters song, it somehow effectively rounds off the CD.

George Fenton’s first scoring foray into an animated feature isn’t as accomplished as a score such as Chicken Run – a score that it is obvious to compare this effort with – but Fenton clearly has a love of those well-known British WWII movie scores and he ably manages to get that whole feel coming across in this score for Valiant. Although the movie disappeared more-or-less without trace, Fenton’s score deserves more than that.

Rating: ***

Track Listing:

  1. Valiant (2:30)
  2. March of The R.H.P.S. (1:33)
  3. “Wish Me Luck” (2:10)
  4. Meeting Bugsy (1:01)
  5. Arrival At Camp ((A) Drummed Out of The Claw, (B) In The Coop) (2:47)
  6. Von Talon and The Bastion (3:26)
  7. Victoria and The Final Training (1:52)
  8. The Eve of The Mission (Adagio) (3:56)
  9. Mouse Division (4:20)
  10. Decoys (2:19)
  11. Re Grouping (1:11)
  12. The Rescue and Escape (12:47)
  13. Winged Heroes (Adagio and Fanfare) (1:40)
  14. End Titles – March of The R.H.P.S. (2:59)
  15. Shoo Shoo Baby (Performed by Mis-Teeq) (2:39)

Running Time: 47:10

Walt Disney Records (2005)


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