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Composed, Conducted, and Co-Produced by:
Randy Newman

Co-Produced by:
Bruno Coon

Orchestrated by:
Don Davis
Randy Newman

Varèse Sarabande

Release Date:
November 17th, 1998

Also See:
A Bug's Life

Audio Clips:
1. The Pleasantville Theme (0:31):
WMA (193K)  MP3 (238K)
Real Audio (147K)

10. Waking Up (0:30):
WMA (193K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

14. A New Day (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (243K)
Real Audio (151K)

15. Goodbye (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (243K)
Real Audio (151K)

Regular U.S. release. A song compilation was released a month earlier.

  Nominated for an Academy Award.


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Our Price: $27.99
Used Price: $1.83

Sales Rank: 208952

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Buy it... if you appreciate Randy Newman's more serious, dramatic efforts of the 1990's, even if they're spiked with a few trademark jazz and comedy cues.

Avoid it... if the extent of your interest in Newman's work rests firmly in the realm of his comedy scores and song performances.

Pleasantville: (Randy Newman) Writer and director Gary Ross wrote several films of the 1990's that dealt with people adapting to life in the wrong place, whether it be a kid as an adult in Big, an ordinary man as a president in Dave, or two teens stuck in an old television show in Pleasantville. Both the premise and technology of Pleasantville were thought-provoking and entertaining in a way that could deliver a socio-political message while also yielding to a sappy, Hollywood-style storybook ending. In the plot, two 90's teens live in a dysfunctional household, and when a television repairman gives them a special remote for their TV, the two are transported back to the favorite show of the boy. That show is "Pleasantville," a black-and-white sitcom of the 50's in which everything's both perfect and sterile, wholesome and neat. As the characters begin to adapt to their new environment, living each day in the show itself, they begin to help the community in the show evolve into independent thinkers. In so doing, the film reveals its technical marvel: the special effect machine that slowly turns elements of the old show from black-and-white into color. As people, animals, and things make the transition --each with a specific reason-- the film displays brilliant colors and cinematography worthy of awards. Ross turned to veteran composer Randy Newman for Pleasantville, and although the songwriter had just come off of scores like Toy Story and A Bug's Life that had reaffirmed his stereotypical role on Hollywood, fewer people recall that many of the composer's best dramatic scores had already come by 1998. To a degree, Pleasantville was a holdover from the days of The Natural and Avalon, serious scores that still resonate today; Newman's straight dramatic writing since hasn't been able to capture the same level of pure Americana and, more importantly, convincing darkness. What's interesting about Pleasantville is that it bridges the two worlds of Randy Newman, with Ross perhaps calling upon the composer with the 50's music primarily in mind. In the end, Newman would succeed in both the comedy and drama for the film.

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The album opens with the two throwback cues; the opening television theme is innocuous in its big jazz band and light chorale performance (reprised by solo brass ensemble in "The Sweater"). The finale cue, "Let's Go Bowling," is the kind of pure Newmanesque retro-romp that Danny Elfman would borrow from in Meet the Robinsons almost a decade later, from the lazy rhythms to the 'la-la' female vocals. The remaining score is dead serious, ranging from sentimental dramatic themes for small ensembles to bold Western-styles themes for the whole. The title theme for Pleasantville's inner story is introduced in "Real Rain," and its tender piano movements offer a practical application of the location's goodness to the two visiting characters. Newman takes few chances in the score, with some of the darker hues ("Burning the Books" and "Punch") presenting little more than an interesting deviation from the composer's typically upbeat charge. But when he does step forward and insert the score into the forefront of the film, the rewards are outstanding. The Western rhythms of "Bud's a Hero," hailing back to the brass tones of Jerry Goldsmith's works in the genre, are far more convincing, ironically, than Newman's own score for Maverick not long before. He would alter that sound for some more traditional John Philip Sousa style of marching in "Together," a brief nod towards comedy. The other two major pieces are "In the Bath," a self-discovery track that leads a Thomas Newman-styled woodwind rhythm and the light choir to a gorgeous crescendo of almost science-fiction proportions, and "Mural," which is a somewhat transparent but nonetheless enjoyable transfusion of magic from Elfman's finale for Edward Scissorhands (minus the choir). The lengthy "A New Day" cue takes the Western-styled theme and uses the piano and string sections to fuse it with the more weighty, Americana style of the entire score. There are several filler cues that pass without much interest, and those who argue against this score for its short album length need to be aware that not only did a sparse total of 45 minutes of music get recorded for Pleasantville, but the album, at 31 minutes, features its fair share of holes in the middle sections. Even with these slow interludes, Pleasantville has plenty on album to keep you entertained, and the product contains none of the songs that were placed on the separate commercial album. Price Hunt: CD or Download

    Music as Heard in Film: ****
    Music as Heard on CD: ***
    Overall: ***

Bias Check:For Randy Newman reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.06 (in 18 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.04 (in 21,269 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 3.28 Stars
Smart Average: 3.16 Stars*
***** 181 
**** 189 
*** 275 
** 152 
* 76 
  (View results for all titles)
    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
              to counterbalance fringe voting.
   Very moving...
  J. Alán Blankenship -- 11/2/06 (8:39 a.m.)
Read All | Add New Post | Search | Help  

 Track Listings: Total Time: 31:40

• 1. The Pleasantville Theme (1:06)
• 2. Real Rain (4:31)
• 3. Bud's a Hero (1:25)
• 4. In the Bath (2:07)
• 5. Mural (2:05)
• 6. Make-Up (1:39)
• 7. The Art Book (1:22)
• 8. Punch (0:30)
• 9. Together (0:45)
• 10. Waking Up (1:30)
• 11. No Umbrellas (1:05)
• 12. Burning the Books (2:27)
• 13. The Aftermath (2:01)
• 14. A New Day (4:59)
• 15. Goodbye (1:32)
• 16. The Sweater (0:15)
• 17. Let's Go Bowling (1:32)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert notes contain no information about the score. The text font on the back of the packaging is extremely difficult to read.

  All artwork and sound clips from Pleasantville are Copyright © 1998, Varèse Sarabande. 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 2/19/99 and last updated 3/31/07. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 1999-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.