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The Patriot
Composed, Conducted, and Produced by:
John Williams

Violin Solos by:
Mark O'Connor

Orchestrated by:
John Neufeld
Conrad Pope
Mark McKenzie

Hollywood Records

Release Date:
June 27th, 2000

Also See:
Saving Private Ryan
Far and Away
Born on the Fourth of July
Jurassic Park: The Lost World
Legends of the Fall
Air Force One

Audio Clips:
1. The Patriot (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (247K)
Real Audio (153K)

4. To Charleston (0:27):
WMA (172K)  MP3 (212K)
Real Audio (132K)

7. Preparing for Battle (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

8. Ann and Gabriel (0:30):
WMA (193K)  MP3 (238K)
Real Audio (147K)

Regular U.S. release.

  Nominated for an Academy Award.

The Patriot

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Sales Rank: 27746

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Buy it... if John Williams' consistent style of respectful writing for historic Americana settings never loses its grace and heroic appeal for you.

Avoid it... if the predictable stature and style of Williams' music in the genre cannot alone compensate for the rare occasion when the composer reaches back for significant inspiration from his (and others') previous works.

The Patriot: (John Williams) Director Roland Emmerich and producer Dean Devlin loved making monumental disaster films in the 1990's, but they surely didn't intend for their first attempt at a serious, historic topic to be a monumental disaster of a film itself. That was, unfortunately, the fate of The Patriot, an extremely graphically gory depiction of one South Carolina family's fight against the British during the Revolutionary War. For lead actor Mel Gibson, there is no doubt that Braveheart was a template, but unlike the vastly superior earlier film, The Patriot was doomed by an unforgivably trite and poorly paced script. It's difficult to think that a film about such a valiant struggle could be made so insufferably boring, but that's exactly what happened. The production itself was met with criticism before it was even finished, with protests from anti-gun lobbies and groups of historians, both of whom had complaints about the film's depictions. Also discontent were fans of composer David Arnold, who had been the collaborator of Emmerich and Devlin for their blockbuster films Stargate, Independence Day, and Godzilla. The director and producer decided that Arnold's demo for The Patriot did not exude the right feel for the story and, as quickly as that, the popular collaboration came to a lasting conclusion. By luck, the venerable John Williams just happened to be available for the necessary window of time during the post-production of The Patriot, and so for a bit more of a cost (though Arnold commands some hefty fees of his own), Williams was brought on board to provide the film a sure bet of a score. The maestro had successfully tackled several films of historical significance in the American setting, with his work for Amistad and Angela's Ashes both receiving recent Academy Award nominations. The score for The Patriot would net Williams yet another nomination, though that fact remains more likely due to the reality that it was the composer's only score of 2000 and the Academy, which by then always nominated the composer during each year of his productivity, had nothing else from him to choose.

That last point about the Oscar nomination is a bit misleading, however, because The Patriot is a truly fine score. Opinions about it in the film music community range wildly, though, and Williams caused much of this disagreement by writing a score that is extremely derivative of his other works and, thus, utterly predictable. If you assume that Williams would approach this film with the same maturity of stature and keen sense of Americana, then you know exactly what it will sound like before you hear it. The execution of its nobility and heroic aspirations are pure Williams in style. The multitude of themes all point to familiar progressions and the instrumentation is standard in his Americana-ready ensemble. With all this in mind, the quality of The Patriot for any listener will depend on how much respect he or she has for Williams' consistent superiority in even his less inspired incarnations. For most, the score will likely be easy to respect, interesting to the ears at every moment, and a solid experience. The success of The Patriot starts with the continuation of Williams' basic Americana spirit, which was most vibrant in Far and Away, most dramatic in Born of the Fourth of July, and most respectful in Amistad. Flowing string layers, heroic solo trumpets, solemn horns in unison, a lightly tapping snare, and joyously fluttering flutes all exist in the score, with the only notable solo work coming in short contributions on violin in the concert suite and its reprise on album. The mix of all these instruments is extremely vivid in The Patriot, allowing cues like "Ann and Gabriel" to shine despite making use of only harp, harpsichord, and flute (over a barely registering string accompaniment) in its first half. A resounding bass region, especially in a few of the ambitious action cues later in the score, is almost electronic in its depth (and could very well by synthesized early in "Tavington's Trap"). The highest treble contributors, led by the complex flute figures in the concert suites and a few of the stand-off cues, are mixed at a reasonable distance.

Thematically, The Patriot has much to offer. The suite covers the four main ideas in the score, with only one other sub-motif existing later for the primary villain. The biggest detriment of the score for some will be the fact that many of the four themes in the suite are very similar to previous Williams ideas. The first of these, which runs until the 2:45 in "The Patriot," is the most intriguing, using the solo violin and acoustic guitar to convey what is likely the Martin family theme. On the surface, this lovely theme is the most unique in the score, though its rendering does beg for comparisons to James Horner's Legends of the Fall. As the secondary phrases of the theme develop, its more upbeat progressions take on pieces of the theme to Jurassic Park: The Lost World (listen specifically to the closing phrase between 1:30 and 1:35 for this connection). In fact, the slightly exotic twist to some of the chord movements in this theme give it (without the obvious violin flavor) a slight fantasy tilt that could very well accompany a film of that genre. The distant mix of woodwinds in the second minute of the suite act as almost an eerie substitute for a synthetic choir. This theme's only major exploration outside of the suite is a very lengthy and satisfying performance in "Ann and Gabriel," which itself could be considered a concert suite with its gorgeously fluid presentation. The second and third themes for The Patriot are connected to the same general idea of the colonies and war, with the latter serving in the suite as an interlude to the former despite their differing purposes. When the snare and flute figures are introduced at 2:45 into "The Patriot," the "colony theme" follows on respectful lower strings. This theme occupies the next minute in the suite, providing the young country with a noble sense of entitlement. Unfortunately, this theme is so derivative of several others that its effectiveness for film score collectors is questionable. The opening measures of the theme (in fact, the entire first phrase!) are copied directly from the title theme to Amistad, and the rising conclusion to the idea, leading into the third theme, is pulled from Far and Away. This theme's best use in the score itself comes in its own prideful concert arrangement of sorts in the outstanding "The Colonial Cause."

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The third theme in The Patriot is likely the most memorable, heralded by triumphant trumpets at about 3:40 into "The Patriot." The static, repeating structure of this theme also resembles that of Jurassic Park: The Lost World, though its blatantly patriotic tones and a few of the other progressions will remind of Jerry Goldsmith's Air Force One. This theme is obviously the victory motif in the score, and accompanies the heroic actions by members of the Martin family, starting almost immediately at the conclusion of the cue "The Family Farm" and appearing in fragments during crescendos throughout the work. A fourth theme is rarely touched upon in the score, and it is the noble medium-range horn salute at the end of the concert suite. This adapts directly from Saving Private Ryan and is the weakest representation of militaristic stature in The Patriot. A smaller, but effective idea is used to represent the evil Colonel William Tavington, with faint trumpets producing a very creepy and sour, descending motif that is as curiously distant as it is menacing. The remainder of the score has only a few moments of downtime, though it does point to some rare temp track emulation by Williams. Outside of the many references to his prior themes, several cues have surprisingly transparent connections. The last half-minute or so of "The Burning of the Plantation" is a page from David Arnold's style of tragedy, and the last minute of "Susan Speaks" is obviously a pull from Ennio Morricone's "Once Upon a Time in America." The action cues, led by "Tavington's Trap," offer the same frenetic, rhythmic density as Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, with many of the structures and orchestrations surprisingly identical. On the whole, Williams usually doesn't run into problems with temp track opacity, but The Patriot is an exception. There is one very unique use of a tolling bell effect (and not just standard chime banging) in "Redcoats at the Farm and the Death of Thomas" to symbolize imminent death. Could David Arnold have produced the same result? Maybe, but it wouldn't have sounded like an absolutely typical, major-key John Williams score of respectful Americana. And, ultimately, that's what everyone got. **** 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 338,223 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 3.95 Stars
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   FVSR Reviews The Patriot
  Brendan Cochran -- 11/17/14 (10:03 a.m.)
   Re: Battle music in 'The Patriot'
  Maxwell Ritz -- 11/13/13 (4:14 p.m.)
   Gabriel's Letter Music
  Chris Green -- 7/13/10 (12:09 a.m.)
   Brass Section (Hollywood Studio Symphony)
  N.R.Q. -- 4/12/07 (6:18 p.m.)
   Re: Orchestrations
  N.R.Q. -- 3/11/07 (3:31 a.m.)
Read All | Add New Post | Search | Help  

 Track Listings: Total Time: 72:38

• 1. The Patriot (6:39)
• 2. The Family Farm (3:04)
• 3. To Charleston (2:15)
• 4. The Colonial Cause (3:15)
• 5. Redcoats at the Farm and The Death of Thomas (4:59)
• 6. Ann Recruits the Parishoners (3:09)
• 7. Preparing for Battle (5:50)
• 8. Ann and Gabriel (4:35)
• 9. The First Ambush and Remembering the Wilderness (4:00)
• 10. Tavington's Trap (4:10)
• 11. The Burning of the Plantation (4:55)
• 12. Facing the British Lines (3:05)
• 13. The Parish Church Aflame (3:03)
• 14. Susan Speaks (3:17)
• 15. Martin vs. Tavington (3:06)
• 16. Yorktown and the Return Home (5:20)
• 17. The Patriot (reprise) (7:50)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert includes no extra information about the score or film.

  All artwork and sound clips from The Patriot are Copyright © 2000, Hollywood 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 6/30/00 and last updated 6/22/08. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2000-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.