I thought that I’d take a look at another passion of mine, Original Sound Tracks (OST). I feel that a film’s score can make or break it, or at times save a movie from total obscurity.
Miklos Rozsa’s breathtaking score for The King Of Kings is a great example of a flawed film with a magnificent soundtrack. To a lesser extent, Dimitri Tiomkin’s music for the all but rubbish Land Of The Pharaohs may not save the movie, but it does elevate if a little. At least the music is good.
Then we have the other examples, such as Mission To Mars. The music presented here, though a good score by Ennio Morricone, is completely misjudged and out of step with the tone of the film. This hinders an already struggling picture, but it may not have been so bad with a better score.
Troy famously and controversially had its Gabriel Yared score replaced at the last-minute by James Horner, who by some accounts had as little as two weeks to compose the two and half hour epic’s score. This was in the end, just another bog standard selection for a film that again was flawed, but I would still be interested to hearing the original composition.
Music is as much a part of movies as the shadow that fall upon the screen as don’t forget, at one stage, in the silent era, that’s all there was. As the silent era seems to suggest just that, but films were never projected without music of some sort.
This is my selection of the best tracks from the 1990’s, which I have come to appreciate as MY era of film. I was 12 in 1990, and 21 by 1999. This was the decade that my life long interest in film developed and flourished and I still hold many of the films from the 90’s as my all time favourites.
- Journey To The Line, THE THIN RED LINE, 1998, Hans Zimmer “This is on of my all time favourite pieces of music. Moving and intrinsically powerful, the dower and futile tone is lifted into a grand sense of purpose. To me, the music is intimating of a greater force overseeing the petty events which unfold during this overly ponderous World War II drama. The score fits perfectly for Terrance Malick’s diatribe on the futility of war, but this music is about the only reasion that I would ever watch the film again.”
- Klendathu Drop, STARSHIP TROOPERS, 1997, Basil Poledouris “This is on of the last great marches from a modern day composer still able to capture the grandeur of old school composition. The late Basil Poledouris died in 2006, therefore robbing the world of this great talent, but this timeless theme will certainly stand as a testament to his grandeur as a composer.”
- Roll Tide,CRIMSON TIDE, 1995, Hans Zimmer “Hans Zimmer was the up and coming composer of the 90’s and this piece pretty much made him. Played in numerous trailers, Roll Tide became synonymous with action films. This is solid Zimmer, though as with many of his scores, he had help. Still, is this doesn’t sum up the 90’s, I don;t know what will.”
- Massacre/Canoes, THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS, 1992, Trevor Jones “Randy Eidleman co-composed this score to Michael Mann’s underrated period drama, but his contribution was the lesser half of this collaboration. It was goo enough and work with the film, but the epic sweeping style of Jones’ score has in many set the tone for this genre. It’s powerful stuff, but works with material well, conveying scale and sense of romance without overstating it. This movie was a throwback to a classic age whilst being told through 90’s eyes, and whilst Eildman’s score kept the film modern, Trevor Jones grounded it in the genre in which it truly felt at home.”
- Main Titles, MARS ATTACKS! 1996, Danny Elfman “Danny Elfman’s collaborations with Tim Burton rarely fail, and this was no exception. He managed to blend the iconic structure of the 1951 classic The Day The Earth Stood Still, composed by the late, great Bernard Hermann, with the mischievous sense-abilities of Burton’s interpretation of the trading card set which inspired the film. This was a classic Science Fiction score brought smack into the middle of the 90’s with confidence and style. “
- Uncle Fucka, SOUTH PARK: BIGGER, LONGER & UNCUT, 1999, Trey Parker & Matt Stone “South Park was on the brink of becoming one of the 21st Centuries greatest parody shows and this in where the greatness was about to be realised. Every song in this expertly devised soundtrack was an homage to the musicals of days gone my but this song laid the foundations for what was yet to come, deep. Bold, raucous and obscene, the style was so authentic to the numbers it was parodying, you can not help to be laugh. Love it or hate it, this was pure genius.”
- Hymn To The Fallen (Reprise), SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, 1998, John Williams “This is simply a strong hymn, evocative, respectful and emotionally charged, conveying the heart of the film. John Williams has one hell of a career, defining a generation of film music, but in all fairness, the 1990’s was not the era of the memorable tunes, such as Indiana Jones, Star Wars or Superman, it was the decade of constant quality and this was no exception.”
- The Launch, APOLLO 13, 1995, James Horner “Im sure that many would argue that Braveheart or Titanic should be here before Apollo 13 but I would disagree. They are both first rate score and do their jobs well, but for me, Apollo 13 is film losing the battle with time, slowly being forgotten in favour of more controversial films, such as the above. Braveheart’s history rewriting and Titanic‘s oscar haul have maintained interest in the films and the scores but I feel that Apollo 13‘s score is as emotional and as effective of as either of them and literally propels the film, which is in many ways quite dry due to it’s accuracy. The emotional; centre of the movie is the score.”
- Fahrenheit 451, BACKDRAFT, 1991, Hans Zimmer “This is his third appearance on this chart but this is one of his first major scores, and I feel is his defining one. This is all Zimmer, early, striking and thunderous. Simple and effective”
- The Conspirators, JFK, 1991, John Williams “And John’s back again, this time for his lesser known work on Oliver Stones JFK. This piece is progressive and relentless, embodying the power and sheer determination of the conspirators as they plot and develop their plans to assassinate Kennedy. Again, this is a score which provides a much needed emotional edge to a three hour epic of conspiracy theories and a lot of talking. “
So, there you have it. Above is my top ten selection of a decade of fantastic music and the development of many a composer who had yet to showcase their talents.