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Section Header
Composed, Conducted, and Produced by:
John Williams

French Horn Solos Performed by:
Jim Thatcher

MCA Records

Release Date:
March 20th, 1990

Also See:
A.I. Artificial Intelligence
Stanley & Iris
Home Alone

Audio Clips:
7. Among the Clouds (0:29):
WMA (191K)  MP3 (239K)
Real Audio (168K)

8. Follow Me (0:32):
WMA (211K)  MP3 (269K)
Real Audio (189K)

9. Pete in Heaven (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

10. Saying Goodbye (0:31):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

Regular U.S. release.


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Sales Rank: 73696

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Buy it... only if you are a John Williams completist and appreciate even the composer's most unassuming and mundane efforts.

Avoid it... if you, like most others, are baffled by Williams' inability to conjure any magic, romance, or other spirit for this film's subject matter.

Always: (John Williams) It is rare that either director Steven Spielberg or composer John Williams produces a total failure of a film or score, and even more rare when they do it together. When searching for the bombs in their collaboration, you can quickly identify 1941 and Always atop the list. For Spielberg, it's easy to see how his judgment became clouded when eagerly assembling this film. He had always been fan of the 1944 Spencer Tracy film A Guy Named Joe, in which Tracy is a pilot who is killed during the war and sent back to the world of the living (by Heaven) to inspire a younger pilot. The true tragedy, however, is that the younger pilot then falls in love with the dead pilot's girlfriend and there's nothing Tracy can do about it. The film was one which Spielberg cites as inspiration for him to become a filmmaker, and he was surprised on the set of Jaws to learn that actor Richard Dreyfuss was also a huge fan of the same film (claiming at the time to have seen it 35 times). Many years later, they finally got together to work on a remake of that film, changing the setting from wartime 1940's to 1980's firefighting in Montana. The planes are much the same, elegantly gliding through the smoke of the fires to drop their loads of retardant. It is during one of these runs that Dreyfuss puts out a fire approaching his downed buddy and, in the process of saving that friend's life, crashes himself into the forest. There he encounters an angel who informs him of the task he has ahead of him before he can ascend to Heaven. That angel is none other than an all-white clad Audrey Hepburn, in her final role before cancer would claim her life a couple of years later. Unfortunately, with hokey dialogue, special effects that are so impressive that they are unrealistic, and a complete lack of genuine urgency in the actions of Dreyfuss, Always became a film that had no purpose other than to be a remake. It was uniformally blasted by critics and ignored by audiences.

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On John Williams' part, the maestro really didn't do anything to try to correct that doomed path. His score is unintrusive, uninspired, and uncentered, providing none of the excitement, romance, or magic necessary to elevate the film beyond its mundane confines. It fails on a number of levels, in fact. First, he doesn't capture the essence of flight in Always. Old bomber planes have always had a romantic element to their flight, and Jerry Goldsmith very effectively addressed this emotion in Forever Young a few years later. Williams, however, doesn't evoke any soaring element here, nor does his limited action material in the film stir up any significant amount of excitement. Once the primary character meets his angel, the score takes a back seat in the film, often consisting of only minimalistic contribution from a few meandering woodwinds, piano, and electronic instruments. The only notable exception is the dread-inducing "Rescue Operation," a cue that doesn't feature Williams usual high standard of dissonance in such kinds of writing. Lightly droning electronic chimes, wavering string notes that last minutes, and thematic development that is so miniscule that it goes barely noticed occupies much of the playing time. The music is so soft that you can actually hear a certain amount of studio noise in the latter half of "Seeing Dorinda," including the musicians shuffling around in their seats. For a film with definite supernatural or religious aspects, Always is completely devoid of magic and thus genuine romance. It's difficult to imagine that for Audrey Hepburn's long awaited, and assumed-to-be final return to the screen, Williams was unable to provide her heavenly character with any kind of redeeming musical identity whatsoever. It's also interesting to compare the approach of this score to A.I. Artificial Intelligence a decade later. Both involve the concepts of love, death, commitment, and rebirth, and whereas Williams treats these ideas with great distance in Always, he would pour on the emotional syrup in A.I. with much better results. The album for Always begins with an array of light rock and country songs, followed by a mostly lifeless Williams' score that is as disappointing as any in that great era for the composer. ** Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For John Williams reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.74 (in 69 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.59 (in 337,524 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 2.99 Stars
Smart Average: 3.03 Stars*
***** 64 
**** 70 
*** 72 
** 53 
* 74 
  (View results for all titles)
    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
              to counterbalance fringe voting.
  Marietta -- 10/22/11 (9:50 a.m.)
   Always Soundtrack
  wildone_106 -- 1/8/08 (12:44 p.m.)
   This is not AI. It's ET !!
  Spielboy -- 4/6/07 (8:55 a.m.)
   Always Soundtrack...
  C S Hyland -- 8/3/06 (9:08 a.m.)
   Re: It's not bad!!
  Ryan Franzese -- 4/3/06 (6:47 p.m.)
Read All | Add New Post | Search | Help  

 Track Listings: Total Time: 68:31

• 1. Smoke Gets in your Eyes (2:51)
Perfomed by J.D. Souter
• 2. Boomerang Love (5:19)
Perfomed by Jimmy Buffett
• 3. Cowboy Man (2:51)
Perfomed by Lyle Lovett
• 4. Give me your Heart (3:54)
Perfomed by Denete Hoover and Sherwood Ball
• 5. A Fool in Love (4:09)
Perfomed by Michael Smotherman
• 6. Smoke Gets in your Eyes (2:38)
Perfomed by The Platters
• 7. Among the Clouds (8:34)
• 8. Follow Me (1:14)
• 9. Pete in Heaven (6:41)
• 10. Saying Goodbye (3:13)
• 11. Pete and Dorinda (3:18)
• 12. The Return (2:29)
• 13. The Rescue Operation (5:14)
• 14. Seeing Dorinda (3:33)
• 15. Intimate Conversation (1:26)
• 16. Promise to Hap (2:29)
• 17. The Old Timer's Shack (4:52)
• 18. Dorinda Solo Flight (3:16)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert notes include no extra information about the score.

  All artwork and sound clips from Always are Copyright © 1990, MCA Records. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 6/15/98 and last updated 8/6/06. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 1998-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.