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JOHN WILLIAMS (INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE)

 
 

THE STORY SO FAR:

The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack composed and conducted by John Williams! This collection is all digitally remastered from the original tapes and includes previously unreleased music. Full color CD booklet features rare photographs and new liner notes.

 

 

THE CRITICISM

In The Last Crusade, Williams has lost the magic and sheer enthusiasm of Raiders of the Lost Ark, but has maintained his usual high standard of action writing to such a degree that the score is still entertaining. Williams and Spielberg decided that any extended use of the original march would be a symbolic pushing of the “cheap thrill” button, and thus the only substantial presentation of that theme exists in the customary end credits suite of all the themes from the film. It’s easy to understand why the country was becoming tired of the “Raiders March,” for it had received endless airtime in concert halls and public address systems through the 1980’s.

 

TRACK LIST

 

  1. “Indy’s Very First Adventure”
  2. “The Boat Scene”
  3. “X Marks The Spot”
  4. “Ah, Rats!!!”
  5. “Escape From Venice”
  6. “Journey to Austria”
  7. “Father and Son Reunited”
  8. “The Austrian Way”
  9. “Scherzo For Motorcycle & Orchestra”
  10. “Alarm!”
  11. “No Ticket”
  12. “Keeping Up With The Joneses”
  13. “Brother Of The Cruciform Sword”
  14. “On the Tank”
  15. “Belly Of The Steel Beast”
  16. “The Canyon Of The Crescent Moon”
  17. “The Penitent Man Will Pass”
  18. “The Keeper of the Grail”
  19. “Finale & End Credits”
 
 
 
But with its diminished role in The Last Crusade, also absent is the charming and exuberant element of the music’s impact on the film. By moving further from that addictive flair, the franchise had almost musically recognized that it was tired, a characteristic that wasn’t lost on critics and audiences. To compensate, Williams does try to continue the tradition of putting some humor into the mix, though none of the brighter cues in The Last Crusade can still touch “The Basket Chase” from the original film. Williams marks the early days of Indy’s adventures at the outset of the film with a playful theme that shares all too many elements in rhythm and instrumentation with his obnoxious Ewok music from Return of the Jedi. Later, “No Ticket” is a more successful play on sharp, deliberate string rhythms in a stand-alone piece. A somewhat humorous, but fascinating cue remains “Scherzo For Motorcycle and Orchestra,” perhaps the ultimate chase cue to end all chase cues for the beloved archeologist. Embodying the more formidable Nazi theme for The Last Crusade, this cue is the highlight of the score in its frenzy of action that perfectly merges the sophistication in movement for Henry Jones, the impending danger from the Nazis, and the light-heartedness of Indy’s creative methodology.

The Nazis themselves received a somewhat fragmented identity in Raiders of the Lost Ark, and with The Last Crusade taking audiences into the heart of their country and technology, Williams invents a grand motif in the style of a descending fanfare for their posturing. This theme’s integration into both the scherzo and later cues is remarkably handled and, in many ways, it is the most memorable aspect of the score. The theme for the Grail, or better yet for its mystique, is appropriately ancient in its progression, but is also quite simple, perhaps an attempt by Williams to mirror the appearance of the Grail and its basic representation of goodness. A sub-theme within the mould of the music for the Grail is actually the Henry Jones theme, which is also a smart move by Williams given that Indy’s father is so obsessed with the artifact. Often performed by woodwinds and strings after a statement of the Grail’s theme, Henry’s theme is sympathetic, but never truly engaging, an effective method of extending the separation within the family. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the religious music from The Last Crusade is the lack of consistent use of a choral element. While the choir was an incredibly vital part of Raiders of the Lost Ark‘s “Map Room at Dawn” cue (and other representations of the Ark’s power), Williams allows most of the similarly rendered visuals on screen in this film to pass with only the orchestra.

 
His Grail theme is still effective, but the lack of depth, especially compared to the engaging single choral moment in “The Penitent Man Will Pass,” is puzzling. More so than in the other Indy scores, Williams seems to introduce snippets of motifs in several places that are never fully realized. In doing so, each major cue has its own personality traits, and some are more effective than others. In the middle of “The Canyon of the Crescent Moon,” for instance, Williams utilizes a sudden, soft woodwind solo that is never placed in proper context. Part of this confusion is caused by a general lack of clarity of the Henry Jones material.

 

THE BREAKDOWN

Final Score: 94% – A

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