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Comments about the soundtrack for Saving Private Ryan (John Williams)

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Filmtracks Sponsored Donated Review #4
• Posted by: Christopher Connors   <Send E-Mail>
• Date: Tuesday, March 11, 2008, at 5:39 p.m.
• IP Address:

(The following donated review by Christopher Connors was moved by Filmtracks to this comment section in March, 2008)

Saving Private Ryan: (John Williams) The score for Saving Private Ryan is like no other Williams score to date. It is because of this that many of Williams' stead-fast fans were completely taken back by the simplicity and blandness of Williams' latest work. True, the album is slow and repetitive besides from the title track of "Hymn to the Fallen", but when looked at in terms of the effect it had on the movie, the score becomes one that could not stand along by itself but instead is one hundred percent devoted to supporting the actual film.

Spielberg's goal was to let the movie speak for itself and not have the music create emotion that was already there in raw form; however, the entire movie was not pure emotion. When Williams' score was used, it was phenomenal. The track "Remembering Arlington" is by far the best example of this. The music transformed slabs of white stone into charactures for American soldiers who so bravely gave their lives during the second World War. The French horns and other low brass instruments carried this theme of remembrance throughout the film very well, giving Saving Private Ryan's score an almost supernatural feeling, much like Schindler's List's score. Of course, like those two films, you cannot compare the two soundtracks.

As for repeating themes, after listening dozens of times, I came up with two very weak ones. A broad, sweeping theme whenever Captain Miller (Tom Hanks) remembers or sees general war atrocity as a whole, and another bass line played by trombones and euphoniums whenever Private Ryan (Matt Damon) is mentioned or appears. Whether these themes where intended or not, I cannot validate. The above was purely my opinion. Combining all of the characteristics of the score, I believe that Saving Private Ryan was not as unremarkable as many other film score critics believed.

Many people -- including myself -- have often forgotten that film scores aren't necessarily supposed to stand alone by themselves. The best of them do, but their main intention is to benefit the film they were written for. This was the case with Saving Private Ryan, and in my opinion, it did not make this Williams score any less powerful in terms of emotion. Complexity... yes. Emotion... Williams wouldn't dare. ****

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