One of the highlight Chandler’s Ford Today posts for me this year was the Top Ten Classical Music Greats list and many thanks to all who added wonderful contributions to this. I’ve loved listening to them all.
The biggest problem I had was in working out which piece had to go into this list. It left me with a number of pieces I would have loved to have included but very conveniently these are film scores/extracts so a new post on Top Ten Film Themes would seem to be in order!
I already included the wonderful John Williams’ Star Wars theme in the last list though I think it would count as my overall favourite film score. Everything about it just fits those wonderful first three films. You get the sense of adventure, of derring-do, of another world far far away. The brief for writing the music was definitely met!
John Williams and John Barry must be two of the finest composers this country has ever produced. I also love the main Bond themes (but not necessarily all of the Bond “songs”).
Incidentally, I haven’t watched the Star War prequels. I suppose I’m not taken by the idea of a prequel. The initial episodes 4, 5 and 6 which came out in the 1970s and 80s were, to me, definitive. (Though I accept the way the episodes were numbered did indicate prequels were likely to happen.). Anyway on to the music and I hope there will be additions to the list from you.
So my list then is:-
1. Love Theme from The Godfather
2. Tara’s Theme from Gone with the Wind
3. Breaking of the Fellowship (though if I can “cheat”, I would include the entire Lord of the Rings music).
4. Harry Potter Overture
5. Dances with Wolves Overture
6. Out of Africa
7. Raiders’ March (Indiana Jones)
9. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
10. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
I love a film score which reflects the overall atmosphere of the film. I think both The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter do particularly well here. From the instruments used to the way the pieces are written, you know you are entering a magical world. I like the way the Potter music uses the upper end of the musical scale to convey this is no ordinary world, no ordinary setting (though at first sight it might appear to be). Also the repeating of certain notes in Close Encounters of the Third Kind is particularly effective.
Dances with Wolves is a beautiful piece. And a test of a really good film score? Hear the first few notes and you’re humming or singing away. As for The Good, the Bad and The Ugly, the imaginative use of pipes makes this music unique and just says “spaghetti western”. The repetition of bars again is effective and creates, for me, a haunting effect over all. Just typing these words, I can “hear” those opening bars in my head. Think the title, think the music. Now there’s a successful film score for you.
ET is moving (music very much equalling the film there) and the Raiders’ March just, for me, sums up the “go get ‘em” attitude of the Indiana Jones character. Favourite film there was The Last Crusade. It’s not the first time Sean Connery stole the film (see Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves, The Untouchables and I’m sure you can think of others).
I also like film music which conjures up a sense of place. Out of Africa is a great example of that. (Another one is Lawrence of Arabia). I’ve even included in my list a film which I dislike intensely because I am not a huge fan of the characters or of the time period in which the story is set. Gone with The Wind may have one of the world’s most famous closing lines but for me Tara’s Theme is one of the best things about it.
I suppose part of my dislike is due to the slavery depicted (which to be fair was accurate for the time of the story and Margaret Mitchell was right to reflect this). It’s just I’m not comfortable with slavery shown on film (Spartacus is an exception but that is because the slaves, understandably, revolted).
And I’ve always thought Scarlett to be nothing but a spoilt witch. (Other words are available there!). I’ve never liked characters that scheme to get their own way and don’t care who they hurt in the process. There’s too much of that in life itself! (The only purpose of characters like that is to be brought crashing down. There is something immensely satisfying in seeing a spoilt brat of a character not getting their own way, discovering what it is like to be on the receiving end of hurt and pain. So yes I guess I can see the point of Gone With the Wind after all but I still prefer the music).
The Godfather music is piquant – now there’s a word that doesn’t get as much of an airing as it should (has a lovely sound to it!). But for a film which is about gangsters to produce what is classed as a romantic theme is some achievement. Does it sum up the conflict between the violent nature of gangsterism and the renowned family loyalties gangsters are known to have? Perhaps.
I also like film scores which hint at tragedy to come (Breaking of the Fellowship is good here). I also like those which cover a wide range of moods (as the films they serve inevitably do). Ultimately is the music a good advert for the film? If yes, it has done its job.
So I’m going to throw this one open again. Which are your favourite film scores and why? One good thing with Christmas almost upon us is the fact we are bound to be able to catch up with some of these over the festive period. Happy watching – and listening!
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.
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