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Far and Away
Album Cover Art
1992 MCA
2020 La-La Land
Album 2 Cover Art
Composed, Conducted, and Produced by:

Orchestrated by:
Alexander Courage
Bobby Muzingo
John Neufeld

Special Performances by:
The Chieftains
Labels Icon
MCA Records
(May 26th, 1992)

La-La Land Records
(March 13th, 2020)
Availability Icon
The 1992 MCA album was a regular U.S. release. The 2020 La-La Land album is limited to 3,500 copies and available initially for $30 through soundtrack specialty outlets.
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   Availability | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Audio & Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... if you're passionate about highly lyrical and gorgeously melodic scores, especially if they can make a splash with some boldly orchestral adventure along the way.

Avoid it... if other composers' incorporation of uilleann pipes, pan flutes, penny whistles, and The Chieftains into less applicable settings has poisoned you to even the best that John Williams can muster with those elements.
Review Icon
WRITTEN 9/24/96, REVISED 3/21/21
Far and Away: (John Williams) In an age when few films were shot in the expansive 70mm format, Ron Howard's Far and Away was a welcome return to the glorious cinematography of Hollywood's great epics of yesteryear. When combined with the expansive score by John Williams, the 1992 film was seen as an engaging and beautiful visual and aural experience. Unfortunately, audiences also had to contend with a contrived script and unconvincing performances by lovebirds Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. It may look and sound great, but Far and Away doesn't make much practical sense for the era, moving in predictable narrative directions built seemingly only for convenient Hollywood endings. The two leads come from different classes in Ireland but flee together to America out of convenience, meandering their separate ways once there but reuniting in an unlikely coincidence to participate as reconciled lovers in the Oklahoma land races of 1893. They strike luck at a fertile location along a river and all is too wonderful. None of these problems seemed to have bothered Williams, whose first collaboration with Howard proved to be among the best that the director would ever have, even considering the multiple classics that resulted from Howard's work with James Horner, including Willow and Apollo 13. Williams had explored darker stylistic territory in the late 1980's, writing several inconsistent, intimate scores that were worlds away from his monumental fantasy and adventure works earlier in the decade. With 1991's Hook, however, came a rediscovery of Williams' more exciting action work, and Far and Away similarly rolled to the top of film music's quality charts the following year. The film provided the composer with an opportunity to write for several genres at once; the story obviously has a significant Irish tilt, and Williams embellishes upon the ethnic elements with substantial beauty of authenticity in that realm.

More intriguingly, Far and Away also represented one of the first Western scores in a long time for Williams, whose endeavors in the genre during 1970's were often more unusual in tone than the straight forward kind of frontier adventure that you hear in this film. Finally, this period in Williams' career wasn't complete without the application of a spirited scherzo to elevate the perceived classicism of the score in a few parts. The shifting of the narrative from Ireland to Oklahoma allowed the composer to explore both locales' themes in expected instrumental colors, and while the score excels in these stereotypical but beautifully executed expressions, some of the best moments merge the two styles during their inevitable transition. It was typical for the composer to collaborate with a soloist or noteworthy group to perform for his scores in the 1990's, and the idea to approach The Chieftains came from Howard, who had heard the group perform years earlier and noted that they were per chance appearing with the Boston Pops at the time Howard sought to engage Williams for Far and Away. Unlike prior and subsequent appearances by the group in film scores, including James Newton Howard's The Water Horse, Williams' incorporation of the group here is both relevant to the topic of the film and integrated with his orchestral ensemble in the score proper. That group is also joined by uilleann pipes, pan flutes, and penny whistle for the more lyrical ethnic passages, sometimes courtesy of Horner's usual performers, and Williams also taps brief synthesizer augmentation at times, heard most prominently at the outset of "Leaving Home." Aside from handling both the ethnic and adventure genres with outstanding precision, Far and Away is an overwhelmingly successful score because of Williams' abnormally keen knack for generating several enticing themes for various situations in his works. The work has no less than three major themes and an equal number of supporting motifs, each majestic in their application to the ensemble and solo woodwind performances. Some, in fact, could rival the recorder solos in Schindler's List.

Ratings Icon
Average: 4.09 Stars
***** 2,455 5 Stars
**** 1,032 4 Stars
*** 552 3 Stars
** 338 2 Stars
* 256 1 Stars
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Read All Start New Thread Search Comments
Just revisited this classic
thw - March 21, 2009, at 9:12 p.m.
1 comment  (2005 views)
love it
David Lounsberry - November 19, 2008, at 10:32 a.m.
1 comment  (2171 views)
Excellent score
Sheridan - September 24, 2006, at 6:12 a.m.
1 comment  (2916 views)
Nick - August 3, 2006, at 12:26 a.m.
1 comment  (2872 views)
enya on soundtrack
bryan - October 6, 2004, at 11:25 p.m.
1 comment  (4423 views)
Burning the Manor House (Track #5)   Expand >>
John - August 27, 2004, at 3:01 p.m.
2 comments  (4232 views)
Newest: November 18, 2008, at 9:40 p.m. by

Track Listings Icon
Audio Samples   ▼
1992 MCA Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 67:12
• 1. County Galway, June 1892 (1:55)
• 2. The Fighting Donellys* (2:18)
• 3. Joe Sr.'s Passing/The Duel Scene (4:41)
• 4. Leaving Home (1:55)
• 5. Burning the Manor House (2:43)
• 6. Blowing Off Steam (1:31)
• 7. Fighting for Dough* (2:02)
• 8. Am I Beautiful? (3:38)
• 9. The Big Match (5:56)
• 10. Inside the Mansion (4:24)
• 11. Shannon is Shot (4:06)
• 12. Joseph's Dream (3:08)
• 13. The Reunion (3:50)
• 14. Oklahoma Territory (2:12)
• 15. The Land Race (4:56)
• 16. Settling with Steven/The Race to the River (4:08)
• 17. Joseph and Shannon (3:14)
• 18. Book of Days - performed by Enya (2:53)
• 19. End Credits* (6:35)
* featuring The Chieftains
2020 La-La Land Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 110:07

Notes Icon
The insert of the 1992 MCA album contains a note from the co-producer and screenwriter of the film regarding the inspiring location of the production and, to a lesser extent, the score. That of the 2020 La-La Land album contains extensive information about the film, score, and album release, including a list of performers.
Copyright © 1996-2021, Filmtracks Publications. All rights reserved.
The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten
or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from Far and Away are Copyright © 1992, 2020, MCA Records, La-La Land Records and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 9/24/96 and last updated 3/21/21.
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