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.
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.
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.
Final Score: 94% – A