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Comments about the soundtrack for Air Force One (Jerry Goldsmith)

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A Highly Underrated Score
• Posted by: Rebecca   <Send E-Mail>
• Date: Tuesday, June 28, 2011, at 3:33 p.m.
• IP Address:
• Now Playing: Poltergeist by Jerry Goldsmith

It's sad to see so many professional reviewers of film music who have absolutely no clue of what great scoring is truely about.

Unlike most composers who write their music to fit the general genre of the movies they work on, (for example: dull, non-descript main theme for dramas, rolling swashbuckler themes for sea-faring films, etc.) Goldsmith always set out to capture the feel and emotion of the story, in this case, the love of a husband and father for his family, and that same man's duty to protect his country.

The film begins with a strong, driving patriotic theme (a breath of fresh air in an age where American patriotism is looked on with nothing short of scorn), lead by trumpets and supported by the string section of the orchestra, flowing into one of the most beautiful melodies that Goldsmith ever wrote. Carried primarily by the French horns, the song bears a strong resemblance (as the afore stated critic has already noted) to the primary theme from the movie Star Trek: First Contact, though the score is also faintly reminiscant of the middle section of Carol Ann's Theme from the film Poltergeist, and Piper Dreams, from the Omen.

Being an action film, there is a good deal of combat music; the most prominent being the hijacking scene. Holding true to form, Goldsmith set out to capture the emotion of the scene rather than following the example of fellow composer John Williams and focusing on every punch, duck and roll (or bullet) dealt. Heavy bursts from the drums capture the thumping hearts of the ships' pilots as they attempt to land the plane before the terrorists break open the door to the cabin and take control. An early cousin to what would become the main theme for The Mummy two years later can be heard in this section of the music. The force of the music continues to escalate as the plane careens all over the runway, trailing into a soft echo of the French Horns playing Raddick, the lead terrorist's theme, as the plane lifts off just in time to avoid the emergency vehicles parked at the end of the runway.

The movie ends with the president and his family escaping from the doomed Air Force One plane, the president himself barely escaping with his life as he battles with the villain for the last life line to safety. The orchestra gives a short, victorious burst of the main theme as the president is pulled clear of the plane, the strings sliding down to a minor as we look back to see the ship, traitor still trapped onboard, crash into the ocean.
Once again we hear that glorious theme as the president and his family share that final moment of relief, crescendoing into the end credits.

Given the rediculously short amount of time he was given in which to write the music for the film, this piece stands as a monumental testimony to Jerry Goldsmith's abilities as a composer.

Final comment: A short but beautiful score, and the piece that first brought this wonderful composer to my attention, Air Force One remains as one of my all time favorite soundtracks.

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