Thursday, March 10, 2011

My favorite soundtracks

I often think of  cast recordings as being the "soundtrack" of my life, but I also get a warm feeling when I  hear songs from the 70's as they take me back to my childhood and give me a nice comfortable feeling.  Movie soundtracks are also a go-to "comfort" for me as well and the three soundtracks that are my main comfort fix "go-to's" are Chariots of Fire, Flash Gordon and Star Wars.
All three are very different, one is synthesizer heavy, one is a rock score with songs and one has some of the most sweeping orchestral "themes" every written.  Two of them also happened to have won the Oscar for Best Soundtrack.

Vangelis' Score for Chariots of Fire has a theme that is instantly recognizable, whenever you hear it you can imagine a group of men jogging on a beach, you can smell the sea foam and see the salty water dancing as their feet touch the sand.  The score also has some very haunting music in addition to the main theme.  The addition of the hymn "Jerusalem" sung by a boy's choir and based on a poem by William Blake with music written by Sir Hubert Parry goes completely against the synth score Vangelis composed, but somehow they fit perfectly together and add an emotional end to the film and the score.  Vangelis managed to get inside the mind of each of the film's leads through his music, adding a regal, haunting element that could only be communicated through music and winning the Oscar for his efforts.

George Lucas has said that John Williams' score for his film Star Wars saved the film.  It added the right heft and emotional connection that Lucas said the film needed and when Lucas screened the film before it had music, he said the people who saw it thought it was a major flop.  Fortunately for us, Williams knew just what themes to write and came up with an opening that, like the theme for Chariots of Fire, is instantly recognizable.   The music propels the story forward when it needs to (the track "Ben Kenobi's Death/ Tie Fighter Attack" is a great example of this) but also Williams composed individual themes for the main characters that allowed us to better understand them. A perfect example of that is the track "The Hologram / Binary Sunset," it displays such a sense of longing and determination for Leia and Luke.  With his score for Jaws composed just two years before this, and his scores for Close Encounters, Superman, Raiders of the Lost Ark and ET all composed within the next five years,  Williams created some of the most memorable film music that is instantly recognizable all within just 7 years.  Williams has won five Oscars including ones for Jaws, Star Wars and ET.

If Chariots of Fire is my comfort soundtrack music appetizer, and Star Wars is my main entree, then Flash Gordon is definitely the desert.  The rock group Queen composed several songs and themes with additional music by Howard Blake.  The rock heavy Queen music combined perfectly with the campy nature of the film. And even though the film failed at the box office, the Queen album was a huge seller, certified gold in the US and selling over 600,000 copies.  This was one of the first soundtracks to be composed by a rock band.  "Flash - a ha!"

Amazon link for Chariots of Fire soundtrack cd - Chariots Of Fire

Amazon link for Chariots of Fire on dvd - Chariots of Fire (Two-Disc Special Edition) 

Amazon link for Star Wars trilogy on dvd - Star Wars Trilogy

Amazon link for Star Wars 6 film blu ray set - Star Wars: The Complete Saga (Episodes I-VI) [Blu-ray]

Amazon link for Flash Gordon soundtrack cd - Flash Gordon (Soundtrack)

Amazon link for Flash Gordon on blu ray dvd - Flash Gordon [Blu-ray]

Chariots of Fire- main theme/movie opening -

Star Wars Opening Scene -

Flash Gordon - Opening /Main Titles/ Flash's Theme -

No comments:

Post a Comment