Something a little different this week. Rather than pick ten films to share with you based on cast or theme, I instead present some of the pictures that contain my very favourite musical scores. A film’s music is much more important than some people think, with the composer’s job being to direct the audience’s emotions in the way that the director wishes. I’m a sucker for a sweeping score, so expect a lot of classic nostalgia.
1. Edward Scissorhands (1990) – Composer: Danny Elfman
Arguably Tim Burton’s last truly brilliant film, Edward Scissorhands is magical enough in thematic content, but when you add Danny Elfman’s mesmerising musical accompaniment it reaches a whole other level greatness. I can’t think of another score that so beautifully captures the macabre at the same time as displaying Edward’s soft sensibility.
2. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) – Composer: John Williams
The first of a few mentions for the big daddy of film scoring John Williams, E.T. is as fondly remembered for its spell-binding music as its long fingered little alien. The ‘flying scene’ in particular never fails to get me going.
3. Jurassic Park (1993) – Composer: John Williams
Oh look, it’s John Williams again. The man sure does know how to tug at the heart strings. The theme for Jurassic Park makes you forget about the almost certain death that would come your way and want more than anything to travel there immediately.
4. Titanic (1997) – Composer: James Horner
Love it or hate it, it can’t be denied that Titanic packed a hell of a punch after it’s release way back when. Musically, I’m not talking about Celine Dion and her juggernaut of a song, but rather the work done by James Horner that had me (and you, don’t fight it) in the palm of his hand for what felt like eleven hours of emotionally exhausting cinema. His ‘Hymn To The Ocean’ still gets me.
5. Hook (1991) – Composer: John Williams
John who? Williams? Oh yes, the name rings a bell. Once again he and Spielberg team up to achieve that rare feat of both enriching and destroying childhoods in one fell swoop. Hook was one of my very favourites, but I’ll never forgive them for the death of Rufio, never ever ever.
6. The Godfather (1972) – Composer: Nino Rota
Much more understated than my previous picks but nonetheless powerful. Nino Rota’s gentle ode to the Corleone family is both sinister and pleasant, a trait that pretty much sums up the film’s central characters.
7. Monsters University (2013) – Composer: Randy Newman
A particularly recent entry on the list. Whilst I didn’t enjoy Monsters University as much as others, one aspect of the film that I kept noticing was the beauty of its score. The example piece names ‘Goodbyes’, in particular, showcases the trademark quirky style of Randy Newman mixed with a much more classical and powerful sound that I fall for everytime.
8. Star Wars (1977) – Composer: John Williams
Big J.W. is back, AGAIN. There’s nothing I can say about the Star Wars theme that hasn’t already been said a million times over, so just shut up and listen.
9. The Good, The Bad & The Ugly (1966) – Composer: Ennio Morricone
It is a pretty impressive feat when one composer defines what an entire genre’s style of music sounds like, and for me at least, Ennio Morricone has done that. Whenever I think of a western, my mind immediately travels to the opening thirty seconds of his theme for The Good, The Bad & The Ugly.
10. Jaws (1975) – Composer: John Williams
Yep, you guessed it. There was no other way I was going to be able to end this list other than John bloomin’ Williams. The Jaws score is arguably the biggest and most successful example of a piece of music that has transcended its medium and become the soundtrack not just for the 1975 Spielberg classic but for the fear of the ocean and what it contains in general.
So what have we learned today? Quite simply, that John Williams is the daddy. It was announced not too long ago that he would be scoring the next three Disney made Star Wars films, and it’s a safe bet that his music will be the best thing about them.