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Comments about the soundtrack for Saving Private Ryan (John Williams)
Filmtracks Sponsored Donated Review

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Filmtracks Sponsored Donated Review   Tuesday, March 11, 2008 (5:26 p.m.) 

(The following donated review by an anonymous contributor was moved by Filmtracks to this comment section in March, 2008)

Saving Private Ryan: (John Williams) The first critique on this page is a disappointing one and it breaks my heart as well, but, I can understand what he or she meant by the soundtrack being rather slow and not emotionally engaging except for the first and last tracks entitled "Hymn to the Fallen." I, however, bought the CD days before I saw the movie, feeling rather boldly that John Williams wouldn't disappoint me, but it did and I was very upset. I was looking forward to hearing the fierce, heart-wrenching tear-tugging performances of the Boston Symphonic Orchestra like on Schindler's List, where the score was so tragically pieced together that there was no need to see the film in order to receive the full emotional spectrum. Then, I saw the film and I understood the reasons of the soundtrack. It was like that there was enough emotion there already in the main texts and it couldn't be obscured with music, therefore, the music was only orchestrated to bridge the courage through the audience that the movie would be over soon and they would be back in their cars, never having to climb out of a shore, or dodge the whining shell of a tank or have to cope with the fact of losing a loved one during a period of trial and tribulation. The music was there soley for the purpose to let everyone close their eyes for a few moments to let the bloodshed try and leave their beings as best as possible before the next one began.

My favorite thing about the soundtrack is the reaccuring theme that is first used in the film after the invasion (same thing with the CD on track three) where the mellow strings arrive just as Captain Miller finishes a shaky drink from his dirty canteen, and with a sand-caked face, he peers over the beachhead with shock-stricken eyes, his sight almost looming over the beach, as he agrees with his friend, the sarge, that it was, in fact, "quite a view." Then, the strings begin to slowly rub away a portion of the pain, almost as if it were being a medic in itself to the audience, letting them realize that it was all over, and even as bad as it was, life will continue, even though, as it proved five minutes later that some lives will not, and that is the price of freedom, which is stressed throughout the movie. The theme where the strings lightly play over the blood-spattered visual of Omaha Beach is a reaccuring theme throughout the movie, usually coming through when the men are speaking of or trying to look for Private James Ryan. The music serves as a definate puncuation after the movie's point had been made. The purpose of the music was not to express emotion, but to heal the audience from the emotion that they were feeling. The music is, yes, usually slow and grieving, however, it states that you must move on and can't stay where you are, so, buck up, padre, cause, there's something around that corner and we can't have you sulking about because it can cost lives.

In my opinion, the soundtrack is a very appropriate soundtrack, although, like the first critic said, I am disappointed that The American President theme wasn't written for the movie because it fits so well, especially when you here the high-pitched strings accenting the melody before the horns arrive as a bomb explodes on screen and Private First Class Reiben yells into the camera as bullets rip into the sand next to him and a dying and dizzied Tom Hanks raises his ACP .45 pistol as a huge stain of blood grows on his flak jacket. But, there are more advantages to John Williams' score, because, it isn't as heavy emotionally, which I think is a major plus, because, it could have been a very dramatic score and people would probably shoot themselves, because, not only is the movie ripping away at the terror and depression in their systems, but (if the music were too cumbersome) people would have hated the movie, because, it would no longer be a story about soldierly humanity, but a crude whimsical impression of WWII, like every Vietnam movie that has ever come out, trying to make everyone believe that nothing ever good, or "decent" happens during the course of warfare, that it is all some insipid prank pulled by the UN and congress.

The audience benefits greatly with this soundtrack, in my own opinion, because, it grieves with you, but it doesn't make you want to grieve more than you should. The frequently arriving Ryan melody, heard in the first few bars in Omaha Beach as well as The Last Battle, is a major calming factor throughout the film, especially at the point where the Captain holds a shaking compass underneath the curious and dubious stares of his men once he learns that Ryan is in the fictional French town of Rommel. My favorite William's soundtrack is still Schindler's List, but, my favorite song of all time by Williams is Hymn to the Fallen, because it defines too well the raw withered feeling that one gets when he or she emerges from the auditorium doors, wiping tears from their eyes in quiet and respectful bereavement. That one song makes the entire album a must-have. ****

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