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Comments about the soundtrack for Saving Private Ryan (John Williams)
Filmtracks Sponsored Donated Review #2

Mike Piazza
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Filmtracks Sponsored Donated Review #2   Tuesday, March 11, 2008 (5:31 p.m.) 

(The following donated review by Mike Piazza was moved by Filmtracks to this comment section in March, 2008)

Saving Private Ryan: (John Williams) This score can be labeled as an album with the John Williams' talent, but only 15 minutes of it. I had not seen the movie, having decided to see it when it came out on video after the rumors of the intensity and raw war-like images were released. I, however, decided to buy the score before my first viewing, for I find it sometimes helps me not only understand the masterpiece of a score but also the hard work that is put in to the placing of the themes I listened to in the film as well. I also bought it, because as Danny Elfman put it, "if there is one thing I really love, it's sad music." Having bought it a week after its release, I had not had time to check for any online reviews to warn me that the score wasn't at all filled with sad or depressing music. Instead of music of sorrow, I got music of peacefulness, which would have been just as good.

As Filmtracks and many others have boldly put, this score is played well with the images on your screen then in your stereo. Yes, in the film the score does support itself mostly because of its place. Williams' music is never heard during action sequences, any depressing sequences any war sequences in general. If you really watched, you would see that most of the music was played when the soldiers were walking from town to town. You might define this music, because of this, as atmospheric, but it doesn't even come off as that on the CD. Unless you are, of course, talking about the atmosphere above our heads, for it then could be considered this, due to it being basically the same thing where every you go. The repetitive nature of the score, and the fact that there is no other theme other then that played in Hymn to the Fallen, makes it for a poor CD experience.

Blame was placed on Spielberg, who is said to have asked Williams for a score that would not overwhelm the already spilling from the glass drama that was created in the film itself. We understand this, and John Williams seemed to as well. He followed Spielberg's instructions to the letter, in fact, at sometimes even calming the ocean of depression the film produced, doing this with the peaceful, subtle music we hear during the hour we assign to listening to this monotonous collection. The main problem is that Williams did nothing but what Spielberg assigned. Yes, Spielberg specifically asked for music that would not engulf the audience. That did not mean Williams couldn't have composed multiple themes for the variety of characters, giving this score a little more color and texture or even hinted that a horrific war was taking place.

As discussed in a previous review, it was Williams' choice, and that it was. It is my opinion that this choice was a poor one. Throughout the score you are anticipating a quenching relief to the agonizingly counterfeit suspense that each note entailed, and the score never broke from its cycle by giving us a cue to change the pace, which appeared to be at a stand-still beginning at track 3. It was Williams's decision to have the score essentially loop the first fifteen minutes of itself for an hour and four minutes.

To sum this up into a conclusive remark: if you liked what you heard in the film, buy the film. The diminutive differences between seeing pictures on the screen and not becomes colossal in the CD. You will hear differently by other reviews, but like every movie if you really, really like the film you will most likely love the score. To the casual viewer, the score will most certainly seem dull and cycling in and of itself. Skip this John Williams masterpiece, because you will be buying the score when you get an upcoming Williams compilation with Hymn to the Fallen included. *

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