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Composed, Conducted, and Produced by:
Jerry Goldsmith

Orchestrated by:
Alexander Courage

Performed by:
The National Philharmonic Orchestra

Hollywood Records

Release Date:
November 7th, 1995

Also See:
The Edge
Star Trek: Insurrection

Audio Clips:
1. Theme from Powder (0:30):
WMA (195K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

3. Nightmare in the Forest (0:31):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (250K)
Real Audio (155K)

7. Wanna See a Trick? (0:29):
WMA (191K)  MP3 (235K)
Real Audio (146K)

8. Everywhere (0:30):
WMA (195K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

Regular U.S. release, but completely out of print and often found for more than $40 on the secondary market.



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Sales Rank: 194706

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Buy it... if you regularly enjoy the predictable constructs of Jerry Goldsmith's character themes of the 1990's and are attracted to idea of stripping the style to its basics and pouring on the syrup.

Avoid it... if you logically expect this score to create any sense of electricity or magic, for without these elements, Powder remains extremely overrated.

Powder: (Jerry Goldsmith) Stories about young misfits trying to fit into a judgmental school environment are surprisingly common in Hollywood, either because such films appeal well to teenagers or because their makers felt that way themselves when that age. The 1995 entry in the genre, Powder, faced considerable adversity of its own, with reporting of writer/director Victor Salva's past history of child molestation raised and protested during the film's release. On top of the public outcry against the studio for allowing Salva to make the film, Powder also suffered from a sappy, sometimes unbearable plotline that drove the rest of the audiences away. To say that the film was a failure is kind, and Jerry Goldsmith's average though overachieving musical effort is dragged along for the ride. Salva had always been an enormous fan of Goldsmith's career, and was very impressed with the score for Powder (calling it the work of "genius"). Likewise, collectors of the composer's music were generally pleased by the soft and sensitive score, maintaining a strong following over a decade later. As such, the score has a tendency to be vastly overrated by many of these listeners; while the work is lovely in its harmonic appeal, it really breaks little new stylistic ground for the composer. As a very common representative of his 1990's style, Powder is a project for Goldsmith that simply furthered his lengthy pursuit of assignments that involve highly personalized character adversity. Goldsmith's main theme, explored extensively in the arrangement of "Theme from Powder" for the album, is lovingly passionate, simple, and unassuming, and it is adapted in many variations throughout the score.

This title theme's construct is very slow, deliberate, and finishes with a faint hint of Western flavor, with Goldsmith utilizing a slight swing of rhythm used for stereotypical Western music during a series of notes late in the theme (to address, perhaps, the setting in Texas). Other parts of its performances, particularly on strings, foreshadow the title theme for The Edge, especially with a shared progression at the outset of the theme (but obviously the tone is much more subtle here). In the theme's extended treatment in "Theme from Powder," "Steven and the Snow," and "Everywhere," Goldsmith makes it clear that the identity for Powder is one of his least complicated of his career. It has a basic romantic element to it that will pull at the heart strings for any listener, but its string and woodwind construction doesn't consist of enough counterpoint or instrumental variety to make it a noteworthy standout in his career. The idea thus blends into the mass of Goldsmith's 90's character themes without offering anything new to interest a Goldsmith collector, outside of the simple fact that its performances in Powder are melodramatic to a fault. A secondary "discovery motif" at the outset of "Theme from Powder" and better suited for "First Kiss" shares considerable elements with Goldsmith's material for the Ba'ku in Star Trek: Insurrection. Another interesting aspect of Powder is Goldsmith's underemphasized use of his tingling, synthetic effects. These electronics were often employed by the composer to insert a sense of magic into his scores, whether it be on the human level or on a technological one (as in his science-fiction efforts). Goldsmith does insert his trademark, electronic sounds in Powder, but they lack the distinctive edge that was needed to make the magic of this story fly.

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For a movie involving supernatural powers and electricity, there's a distinct lack of energy in this score. This is a shame, because Goldsmith could very easily have put more of an emphasis on his spine-tingling electronics to accent the start of measures or, as he often does, ramble in the background to add another dimension to the music. That personal touch of the supernatural fails in part because Goldsmith's choice of synthesized elements: the same electronic effect that Goldsmith conjured for the opening of the Klingon battle scene in the original Star Trek: The Motion Picture (as heard here at the start of "Spoon Trick and the Trestle." As a listening experience, the score splits itself between two parts. During troubled sequences, such as the lengthy "Nightmare in the Forest" and "Freakshow," the music loses the heart that it established in the major thematic presentations. The other part consists of the slow, melodic string and woodwind cues that carry most of the rest of the underscore. These drawn-out sequences simply connect similar performances of the main theme, which come at regular intervals and never develop into anything more than a weightier statement at the end of "Everywhere." Overall, Goldsmith has written so many memorable character themes that this one fades away. Undoubtedly, Powder is easily listenable, but it doesn't have the magical touch it needs to distinguish itself above and beyond its own simplistic, pretty theme. The immense respect that many Goldsmith collectors have for Powder remains a curious fact, perhaps proving that the key to the heart of any such fan is to take a generic Goldsmith theme, tone back the complications, and pour on the syrup. That may work for some listeners, but if you expect to hear anything remotely electrical in a three-dimensional sense, you'll be disappointed. Don't believe the hype. *** Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For Jerry Goldsmith reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.26 (in 113 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.26 (in 138,506 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 3.38 Stars
Smart Average: 3.3 Stars*
***** 152 
**** 207 
*** 185 
** 95 
* 72 
  (View results for all titles)
    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
              to counterbalance fringe voting.
   Powder Score
  Jose Victoria -- 12/8/06 (8:40 a.m.)
   Sarah Brightman has his song on her album
  jimbob -- 8/18/06 (8:27 p.m.)
   One of his best!
  Reinhard Ende -- 7/12/06 (1:22 p.m.)
   what the hell the reviewer was thinking abo...
  deffunk2000 -- 6/4/06 (2:38 p.m.)
   Only Average? Yeah, right.
  Kram Sacul -- 1/25/06 (1:38 a.m.)
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 Track Listings: Total Time: 35:39

• 1. Theme from Powder (4:32)
• 2. Spoon Trick and the Trestle (2:17)
• 3. Nightmare in the Forest (5:10)
• 4. First Kiss (2:25)
• 5. Steven and the Snow (8:26)
• 6. Freakshow (4:42)
• 7. Wanna See a Trick? (4:01)
• 8. Everywhere (3:54)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert includes a note from director Victor Salva, from which the following excerpt is taken:

    "Incredibly haunting and powerful, while it is full of the musical colors that Jerry does like no one else, it is also unique in tone even among his considerable body of work. All this comes from much more than just his own intrinsic understanding of the film -- which I found impeccable. It comes from more than even his great artistry. It comes, I believe, from his deep, deep love for movies."

  All artwork and sound clips from Powder are Copyright © 1995, 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 6/3/98 and last updated 9/14/08. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 1998-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.