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Comments about the soundtrack for Schindler's List (John Williams)

Re: This would be an even better soundtrack if ... [EDITED TWICE]
• Posted by: Soizic   <Send E-Mail>
• Date: Sunday, May 1, 2016, at 5:57 p.m.
• IP Address:
• In Response to: This would be an even better soundtrack if ... (Sherlock)
• Now Playing: Schindler's List
Message Edited: Sunday, May 1, 2016, at 6:08 p.m.
Sunday, May 1, 2016, at 6:25 p.m.

> This would be an even better soundtrack if there are more variations on
> the theme. I am not bashing about this soundtrack. I love this soundtrack.
> It's a very emotional score. But I think John Williams should have
> composed more themes to fit the main characters rather than just one theme
> and a slight variation throughout the whole soundtrack. The main theme
> describes perfectly of the holocaust. But I think this soundtrack would be
> more interesting to listen to if there is a theme for each of the main
> characters.

> If I am the director for this film, this is what I would tell John
> Williams prior to composing the score. Goeth's theme would sound very
> cold, harsh, and chilling. This theme should be accompanied by a female
> vocalist, like 'Revenge' from Legends of the Fall. Whereas Schindler's
> theme would start out very loud to fit his party life at the beginning,
> and then slowly change to a more emotional piece to the end. The original
> theme should be used for the idea of the whole story, illustrating the
> holocaust and the Jews. And then I would ask John Williams to make a theme
> for Helen Hirsch. A very soft, delicate piano piece to describe her
> because she is a soft and delicate character. For Stern, the theme should
> be a variation from the Schindler's theme, since he is his assistant and
> they are both aiming towards a similar goal. But the piano piece for Helen
> Hirsch is highly recommended. It always feels like there is something
> missing in the background whenever I see her.

I have to say I totally disagree with this. Part of the beauty of this film soundtrack is that it doesn't have john williams music throughout unlike starwars.The two leitmotifs, Schindler's list theme (not Schindler's theme) and remembrances (theme of the jews) works just perfectly. What you suggest is called mickey mousing, and that just doesn't work as this isn't that kind of film. Mickey mousing is what you see in cartoons. The music at the beginning of the movie is largely realistic and source diegetic music (part of the film's narrative; part of the internal reality of the film in that the characters can hear it or are actively dancing or performing) and is of the period and of the locality (setting). There are bits of 'Jewish Town' (the second of three pieces from Schindler's list and could be called a Jewish style) that is used in the ghetto scenes. The two main themes 'Remembrances' and Schindler's list theme cannot be labeled as 'Jewish'. They are not and for Mr Williams to try would have been very wrong and would risk being a parody. The main theme has whisps of Ofyn Pripetshok, the traditional folk song accompanying the girl in the red coat., but we need to remember that Schindler was not Jewish so to give him a jewish theme would just be wrong. the main theme is a classical style with a very vague nod to jewish music traditions (the ends of the phrases in the main theme have a sad yiddish lilt and that mirrors Pripetshok, but that is about it.) The same goes for Remembrances, the jew's theme, but here there are fewer Jewish signatures in this theme. To read about the problems of using ethnomusicological cliches to set a sense of location and period in film, have a read of Philip Tagg's Open letter about ‘Black music’, ‘Afro-American’ and ‘European’ music.on his site Philip

Another function of film music is to hint at hidden internal psychological state of a character. Goeth doesn't have a theme because his mental state is linked to his actions and can be seen and his psychopathy is clear. To try and put music to most of what he does in the film risks trivialisation of those actions. Music would distract from it and is more powerful as it is. Have a look at the end violent scene in 'Taxi Driver'. 'No music' can be as powerful in amplifying drama.Helena Hirst does have a theme, though it may not be clear. She is Jewish and in the camp. Their leitmotif is "remembrances" (as i already pinted out)
There is alot to film scoring and in my opinion the scoring and use of stock music in this film is near perfect, unlike many of the films mr williams is associated with. I hope this have been informative. :-)

Comments in this Thread:     Expand >>
  • This would be an even better soundtrack if ...  (3230 views)
       Sherlock - Thursday, May 22, 2008, at 11:50 p.m.
    •      Re: This would be an even better soundtrack if ... [EDITED TWICE]  (1068 views)    We're Here
         Soizic - Sunday, May 1, 2016, at 5:57 p.m.

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