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Minority Report
Composed, Conducted, and Produced by:
John Williams

Principle Vocals by:
Deborah Dietrich

Orchestrated by:
John Neufeld
Conrad Pope

Performed by:
The Hollywood Studio Symphony

Dreamworks Records

Release Date:
June 18th, 2002

Also See:
A.I. Artificial Intelligence

Audio Clips:
5. Spyders (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (243K)
Real Audio (151K)

10. Anderton's Great Escape (0:31):
WMA (193K)  MP3 (238K)
Real Audio (147K)

12. Visions of Anne Lively (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

16. A New Beginning (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (245K)
Real Audio (152K)

Regular U.S. release.


Minority Report
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Sales Rank: 185789

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Buy it... if you have no qualms about John Williams looking for inspiration in the noir scores of yesteryear for a futuristic thriller, even if that technique yields a score less interesting than it could have been.

Avoid it... if you purchase Williams' scores simply for their harmonic resonance, because Minority Report is short on thematic beauty and long on dissonant chasing.

Minority Report: (John Williams) After the crushing critical failure of A.I. Artificial Intelligence the previous year, director Steven Spielberg turned his sights on another futuristic story about humanity, but this time rooted in the film noir genre of old time detective thrillers. Not long into the future, a gifted handful of people can predict when crime is about to happen, allowing police to foil the event before it happens. The plot of Minority Report questions what would happen if one of the lead investigators is himself predicted of committing murder, sending him on a chase that may inevitably cause the murder in the first place. It's a circular examination of fate, destiny, and free will that makes the audience think as much as it had with A.I., but without the horrendous emotional baggage. For Spielberg, the positive response to Minority Report, despite the film's failure to achieve classic status, helped solve some of the ills caused by A.I., though working in the opposite direction was composer John Williams. There was no letdown in sight for Williams at the start of 2002, with sequels for the Star Wars and Harry Potter franchises in the near future and an Indiana Jones score perpetually on the horizon. A standout score for the maestro in the previous five years had indeed been A.I., a work that accentuated the ills of that picture but, in so doing, produced a beautiful listening experience. The half of its length that accompanies the disillusioned vision of a bleak future of technology and humanity serves as a close cousin to Minority Report, for which Williams was asked to compose yet another psychologically complex score about a disturbing future scenario. In most productions, and especially when working with Spielberg, Williams is involved with the project from the very beginning of shooting. In the case of Minority Report, however, Williams was shown the picture after it was nearly completed, allowing him to fully experience the psychology of the chase realized throughout the story. He also composed this score immediately after finishing Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, allowing him little preparation time for the Spielberg film.

In the end, though, Williams managed to produce a well-rounded score for Minority Report, with consistent elements that weave in and out of the score in its entirety. It is a very cohesive score in the sense that it reuses motifs and builds upon instrumentation throughout its length until it finally releases all of its energy at the end. Whether the score will be listenable beyond the confines of the movie for most listeners, however, is another matter. Spielberg has mentioned that Minority Report is a film noir throwback to the kind of suspenseful mysteries for which Bernard Herrmann scored late in the Golden Age of Hollywood. With the disharmony and tumultuous rhythms of Williams' score for this film, you can hear that the composer was attempting to emulate the same kind of unnerving suspense in grand fashion, as Herrmann succeeding in accomplishing time and time again. In fact, the "Spyders" cue is obviously saturated with Herrmann's mannerisms. Functionally speaking, Williams does succeed in producing a solid suspense piece, but Minority Report proves as well that Williams still isn't the master of noir thrill that Herrmann was. Williams' successful suspense scores follow a formula that boils and churns rather than outwardly frighten a listener with layers of dissonance. This is a rather surprising observation to make about Williams, because it's so rare that he fails to accomplish any goal he sets his mind to in the Bronze or Digital Ages. The composer's dominating talents at melody always manage to influence even his darkest of his suspense scores. In A.I., in fact, the operatic moments of thematic expression of love will far outweigh the action cues in most listeners' memories. The same will be so with Minority Report, though the moments of harmony in the later portion of the score are so few that there will be many listeners who will reject it simply for its mostly abrasive nature. The suspense and chase cues may be functional, but compared to Williams' body of work, they're quite unremarkable. Lengthy cues of uneasy string meanderings paint a relatively unhappy picture of America in 2054. A soft, but discomforting tapestry shapes the somewhat more conventional action material from Williams that follows.

The theme that Williams creates for the primary family of characters is touching, though highly restrained. First heard on solo horn at about the three-minute mark in "Minority Report," this idea is expanded upon by piano in short suite format in "Sean's Theme" before understandably providing an eerie ambience in the middle sequence of "Leo Crow... The Confrontation." The intended noir elegance of the theme's rising progressions of hope and redemption hints at the appeal of Williams' other highly personal dramatic themes, and it is allowed to flourish in the final, resolution cue of Minority Report. "That surprises a lot of people," explains Williams about the ending. "We've been in a dark, futuristic mode and then, unexpectedly, there's this lyricism reflecting a sense of innocence and hope." By the time the listener has reached the final cue, he or she has already been introduced to several highly engaging cues that shatter the quiet intensity of the first half of the score. After the suite performance of the theme, the album shifts into its enjoyable action material, exploding with the beginning of "Anderton's Great Escape." Once the chase begins to heat up, so does the rhythmic cohesiveness and volume of Williams' music. Throughout the score, he uses the ethnically awkward vocals of a single female soloist to perform an exotic, two-phrase theme to represent the visions of the "precogs." Sharing characteristics with the composer's theme for Lord Voldemort in the first two Harry Potter scores, this vocalized theme is not as reassuring as related tones had been in A.I., but rather intentionally foreign, adding to the discomforting transformation of America in the latter half of this century. Just like the harmonica that is electronically altered in the sixth track to add even more flavor to the futuristic setting, the vocals are electronically enhanced to create a disturbing, though intriguing sound. "The electronic piece is synched up with the orchestra," Williams states. "So it becomes a kind of loop that's orchestral but also synthesized. It wafts through the film." The "Visions of Anne Lively" cue offers the most explicit use of these vocals, and it is only a pity that Williams did not utilize these elements to an even greater effect.

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Using the vocal and electronic effects as an accent to the orchestral elements is one thing, but building the entire score around them could have made Minority Report into a spectacular work. As it is, Minority Report is a score to appreciate in its parts but, ultimately, it's best placed in the context of the visuals. It lacks the emotional reach or thematic integrity to stand out as a great effort in Williams' remarkable career. No doubt distinguished accompaniment for the film, the score on album stops short of involving the listener until its latter stages, and an entire 45 minutes of technically proficient, but cold material can pass by without the complexity of emotion that we have come to expect from Williams. To the trained ear, the references to Herrmann's work are interesting, if not something of a cliche, though they still work in the film (which should serve as a compliment to Herrmann's style of writing). The fact that the score washes too pleasantly into a positive ending makes the first half all the more disappointing; chalk that one up to Spielberg's need for hopelessly optimistic Hollywood endings. Only a handful of the chase sequences are intriguing enough in their construction (with the incredible "Anderton's Great Escape" leading the way) to play with power outside of the picture. The unfolding "Psychic Truth" is perhaps a redeeming cue in terms of sheer weight and momentum. It is surprising that Williams didn't create more elaborate or, at least, risk-taking scores for these futuristic films. A.I. did make use of instrumentation that he had not employed the same way before, but Minority Report is a comparatively conservative effort that relies on Williams' existing stylistic skills rather than branching off into new territory. This is a shame, because with the talent that Williams displays on a regular basis, and the ruts that he seems to get stuck in when restrained by sequel scores, it's disappointing to hear him miss an opportunity to go off on a wild excursion into the musical unknown. If the film itself is compared to a pre-crime case, then Williams scored the present investigation rather than the time and place at which that crime will eventually take occur. *** 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 338,226 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

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   Re: performer-LSO?
  Kino -- 9/3/08 (7:07 p.m.)
   superb soundtrack album
  venkat -- 11/8/06 (10:16 p.m.)
   Re: About Steven Spielberg notes
  Eric -- 3/12/06 (9:55 p.m.)
   Additional Orchestration
  N.R.Q. -- 2/22/06 (12:09 p.m.)
   all of you guys are totally crazy!!!
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 Track Listings: Total Time: 73:55

• 1. Minority Report (6:29)
• 2. "Can You See?" (2:12)
• 3. Pre-Crime to the Rescue (5:48)
• 4. Sean and Lara (4:46)
• 5. Spyders (4:33)
• 6. The Greenhouse Effect (5:09)
• 7. Eye-Dentiscan (4:48)
• 8. Everybody Runs (3:10)
• 9. Sean's Theme (1:57)
• 10. Anderton's Great Escape (6:47)
• 11. Dr. Eddie and Miss Van Eych (3:08)
• 12. Visions of Anne Lively (3:27)
• 13. Leo Crow... The Confrontation (5:55)
• 14. "Sean" by Agatha (4:59)
• 15. Psychic Truth and Finale (7:10)
• 16. A New Beginning (3:29)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert includes the usual short note from Spielberg, but nothing else about the score or film. The note is as follows:

    "John Williams has done a masterful job in his musical presentation of Minority Report. The plot and story find their roots in the combination of American film noir and the classic "whodunit" mysteries that were so popular in the era of Humphrey Bogart and filmmaker John Huston. John Williams and I have often marveled at the way Bernard Herrmann was able to contribute so much musical suspense to an Alfred Hitchcock picture. So in that tradition of mystery, suspense and film noir, John has fashioned a fast-paced, yet dark portrait of America in the year 2054 when the murder of one human being by another can foretold through the miraculous gifts of three precognitives. Unlike our other collaborations, John's score for Minority Report is not lush with melody; it is nonetheless brilliant in its complexity and forceful in its rhythms. It is the kind of music that will start in your spine and eventually find its way to your heart in the section titled "Sean's Theme." If most of John's scores for my films have been in color, I think of this score as his first one in black and white. But as in most of John's music quite often you don't need the pictures to understand the musical story that John is telling you. After all, John Williams is the greatest musical storyteller the world of movies has ever known."

  All artwork and sound clips from Minority Report are Copyright © 2002, Dreamworks 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 6/14/02 and last updated 1/4/09. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2002-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.