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The River
(1984)
Album Cover Art
1991 Varèse
2020 Intrada
Album 2 Cover Art
Composed, Conducted, and Produced by:

Orchestrated by:
Herbert W. Spencer

Notable Solos by:
Warren Luening
Tommy Tedesco
James Walker
Labels Icon
LABELS & RELEASE DATES
Varèse Sarabande
(1991)

Intrada Records
(May 4th, 2020)
Availability Icon
ALBUM AVAILABILITY
The 1991 Varèse album was a regular U.S. release, but it fell completely out of print and became difficult to find. The 2020 Intrada album is limited to an unknown quantity and available initially for $22 through soundtrack specialty outlets.
Awards
AWARDS
Nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe.
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ALSO SEE





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Availability | Awards | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Audio & Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... if you have grown weary of John Williams' space operas and high adventure style of the 1980's and seek a change of pace with one of the composer's most heartfelt and organic works of pure Americana.

Avoid it... if you have absolutely no tolerance for the moderate use of contemporary rhythms and percussion in parts of the score, as The River is somewhat dated in these regards.
Review Icon
EDITORIAL REVIEW
FILMTRACKS TRAFFIC RANK: #1,600
WRITTEN 8/13/09, REVISED 4/13/21
Williams
Williams
The River: (John Williams) Due to the politics and economics of the era, there was a flurry of films in the early 1980's that dealt with dramatic representations of the hardship of the American farmer. Largely because The River arrived last in this series in 1984, audiences weren't particularly sympathetic to it. The quality of the film, despite poor critical response, is quite decent, setting aside the awkwardness of Sissy Spacek and Mel Gibson as the leading couple fighting to save their farm from both a regularly flooding river and a hydroelectric developer played brilliantly by Scott Glenn. Director Mark Rydell once again turns his attention on the mundane but important aspects of rural America in The River, tackling the subject of farming from both the perspectives of money and natural disaster. Gibson, while not known widely at the time, has always remained the weak link in an otherwise precise depiction of contemporary Tennessee lifestyles, his Appalachian accent never convincing. Helping counter his miscasting is composer John Williams, who was once again inspired by Rydell to convey a convincing sense of Americana that few modern composers could accomplish. Williams' work for Rydell had included several portraits of America prior to the composer's space opera revolution, including The Reivers and The Cowboys, and while The River obviously exists in a different generation and addresses more realistic, everyday subject matter for many audiences, Williams does not miss the chance to emphasize the farmland along with the people. The success of The River as a score is owed to Williams' ability to capture the pastoral elements of the landscape and a simple lifestyle in both the broader scope of expansive melodrama that listeners have come to expect from him and, more importantly, in the more confined atmosphere of personal, heartfelt struggles. Throughout the picture, Williams' score offsets the film's muted colors and ominous storm clouds with a surprisingly upbeat spirit of perseverance and respect for the land. It is as organic in texture as the composer has perhaps ever been, and the maestro supplies an abundance of themes to express this emotional range.


Ratings Icon
VIEWER RATINGS
222 TOTAL VOTES
Average: 3.17 Stars
***** 42 5 Stars
**** 51 4 Stars
*** 58 3 Stars
** 45 2 Stars
* 26 1 Stars
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COMMENTS
1 TOTAL COMMENTS
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Masterpiece
Max - July 30, 2010, at 10:45 a.m.
1 comment  (1443 views)
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Track Listings Icon
TRACK LISTINGS AND AUDIO
Audio Samples   ▼
1991 Varèse Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 37:05
1. The River (4:30)
2. Growing Up (2:53)
3. The Pony Ride (3:16)
4. Love Theme From The River (4:54)
5. The Ancestral Home (4:31)
6. Rain Clouds Gather (3:07)
7. From Farm to Factory (2:44)
8. Back From Town (3:40)
9. Tractor Scene (2:18)
10. A Family Meeting (2:39)
11. Young Friends Farewell (2:39)
2020 Intrada Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 79:14

Notes Icon
NOTES AND QUOTES
The insert of the 1991 Varèse album includes a short note about the score and film. That of the 2020 Intrada product contains extensive details about both.
Copyright © 2009-2021, Filmtracks Publications. All rights reserved.
The reviews and other textual content contained on the filmtracks.com 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 The River are Copyright © 1991, 2020, Varèse Sarabande, Intrada Records and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 8/13/09 and last updated 4/13/21.
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