Movie Soundtracks

Jeremy Hubble
The Battalion

Oscar season is close upon us. Everyone's making their picks. Will Sense and Sensibility take it all? Will Tom Hanks win yet another best actor? Will Patrick Doyle win a much deserved Academy award?

Patrick who?

Somehow lost in the Oscar race is the run for best score.

Pittsburgh by 12?

Try again.

We're talking about the motion picture soundtrack. That music that plays in the background of your favorite movies. Those seemingly subliminal messages that tell you something important is about to happen. The fanfare that keeps you on the back of your seat during action scenes.

The music is one aspect of the movie that nobody notices -- until it's missing. Sure, you fill a movie with pop-songs and everyone buys the record. But the soundtrack is more than that.

Strauss' "Also Sprach Zarathustra" is everywhere now after being borrowed for the theme to 2001: A Space Odyssey. Vangelis' Chariots of Fire became synonymous with slow motion, dramatic scenes. And the Jaws theme?

Music predates even "talkie" movies. Back in the silent film day, a film just didn't work without a pianist or other musicians cloaking the silence.

Today soundtrack decisions can be quite complex. Should a series of rock songs be included. A classical score? A new orchestral composition? Or maybe all three.

The choice greatly impacts the movie. What would Star Wars have been like if George Lucas opted for some Bee Gees songs instead of John Williams. Luke Skywalker battles Darth Vader as "Jive Talking" plays.

Luckily Lucas opted for the Williams score. As have many other blockbuster directors. Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, Home Alone and Superman. What would these films have been like without their music? John Williams' name is associated with more blockbusters than any other person: actor, director, producer.



Yet, who stands in line to see Sabrina because of the John Williams soundtrack?

Anyone? Anyone?

Other composers have also carved their niche. Danny Elfman scores the perfect accompaniment for Tim Burton's quirky darkness. Nightmare Before Christmas, Batman and Edward Scissorhands just wouldn't have been the same without Elfman.

Orchestrations aren't for every movie. How about Clueless with Alicia Silverstone roaming around while Bach plays in the background.

As if!

Clueless can compete with Pocahontas for the best song award. After all, Disney movies always dominate the cinematic music awards categories. Last year, Lion King had three of the five Best Song nominations. It won both the score and the song.

It was also the year's best selling album.

This year, my pick goes to Patrick Doyle. He constructed a magnificent score for A Little Princess. By combining Indian rhythms, turn of the century melodies and modern orchestrations helped create a cinematic masterpiece. Unfortunately, the movie failed to fare well at the box office. But, he also scored the critic's child, Sense and Sensibility.

This is Doyle's year.

January 22, 1996