Sunday, May 19, 2013

Music Sunday: The Film Score Edition

Now, this is movie music:

I watched "The Magnificent Seven" (1960) last night for the first time in years. I'd forgotten how much I like the score, which was composed by Elmer Bernstein. It was nominated for an Academy Award but lost out to the score for "Exodus", composed by Ernest Gold. However, Bernstein's score was listed at number 8 on the American Film Institute's list of the 25 best film scores from American films. The score from "Exodus" does not appear on the list, although it was nominated when the AFI list was being compiled.

I'm a big fan of movie music, although it has been said that the best film scores are invisible to the ear because they fit so well that you forget that the music is there. And that is true, to an extent. Still, movie themes, the music that plays over opening or closing credits, should be something that is memorable. So should main themes within the scores.

For example, here is what is known as the "Love Theme from The Godfather" (1972), composed by Nino Rota:

Again, great movie music. I'm not really happy with the sound quality of this clip, but I think it illustrates something: if the music is good enough, it will sound good no matter how bad the sound quality of a recording.

Nino Rota also composed the score for the Zeffirelli version of "Romeo and Juliet" (1968):

Another movie that has a wonderful score is "Gone With the Wind" (1939), composed by Max Steiner. You can argue about the suitability of the film and its themes all you want, I don't think it is possible to argue that the score is not top-notch:

Some of the music from these films is iconic. So is the music from "Star Wars" (1977), composed by John Williams. That might be surprising, coming from a science fiction (or, some might say, science fantasy) film, but I don't think so. I've heard some describe this score as "bombastic", but I like it.

Still, if you're talking science fiction film scores, I prefer this, from 1951's "The Day the Earth Stood Still," composed by Bernard Hermann:

I also like the music from "Planet of the Apes" (1968), composed by Jerry Goldsmith. This bit, called "The Hunt" is not the theme but is from the body of the film and is, I think, just brilliant. It fits the film perfectly:

So, something a little different for Music Sunday today. I like to think of it as me doing my little bit to promote the idea that music doesn't have to be rock or pop, or have lyrics, to be listenable.

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