Sunday, November 19, 2017

Composing Greatness: #25. John Williams - "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" (1989)

Scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Welcome to Composing Greatness: a column dedicated to exploring the work of film composers. This will specifically focus on the films that earned them Oscar nominations while exploring what makes it so special. This will be broken down into a look at the overall style, interesting moments within the composition, and what made the score worth nominating in the first place. This will also include various subcategories where I will rank the themes of each film along with any time that the composer actually wins. This is a column meant to explore a side of film that doesn't get enough credit while hopefully introducing audiences to an enriched view of more prolific composers' work. This will only cover scores/songs that are compiled in an easily accessible format (so no extended scores will be considered). Join me every Sunday as I cover these talents that if you don't know by name, you recognize by sound.

Series Composer: John Williams
Entry: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
Collaborators (If Available): N/A
Nomination: Best Music, Original Score
Did He Win: No

Other Nominees:
-The Little Mermaid  (Alan Menken) *winner
-The Fabulous Baker Boys (Dave Grusin)
-Field of Dreams (James Horner)
-Born on the Fourth of July (John Williams)

Additional Information

This is to help provide perspective of where each composer is in their Oscar-nominated life as it related to the current entry.

Oscar Nomination: 26
Oscar Wins: 4

Track List

1. "End Credits (Raiders March)" (Listen here)

NOTE: Due to issues finding an entire available score for the movie, I am unable to properly assess it. As a result, I will be reviewing only the end credits. If you are able to find a public version of this score, please let me know and I will redo the entire column.

Exploring the Music
The area of the column where I will explore the music in as much detail as I see fit for each entry.

Theme Exploration:
"End Credits (Raiders March)"

Once again, it's difficult to really assess the score for this movie, as the resources weren't readily available. Of course, there's John Williams' iconic motif that plays halfway through the track. It's so upbeat and gets you moving. It's impossible to ignore. Everything around it is also top notch material, as it reflects a more sweeping and beautiful side of the composer. It has the awe that we've come to expect from his work with Steven Spielberg. It's playful, sweet, and everything that a great Williams score should have. I especially love how it builds to a thrilling and more engaging melody in the final stretch, capturing a new and lively sense of adventure. 

Did This Deserve an Oscar Nomination?:

As I've mentioned countless times before, I have a dislike of movie scores that borrow even partially from previous work. Much like with the Star Wars films, the Indiana Jones scores have moments of brilliance that are undeniable. I can't argue that the work here is bad. In fact, it's really fun in all of the right ways. But entirely original it is not. We've heard him use that "Raiders March" motif a few times by now. It still works, but there isn't much to suggest that it's original. With that said, it's a fun blockbuster score, and one that holds its own alongside the other Indiana Jones scores. Williams has four Oscars and over 20 nominations by this point. He was even nominated elsewhere this year for the superior Born on the Fourth of July. Does he really need this nomination? I think not.

Up Next: Home Alone (1990) for Best Music, Original Score/Best Music, Original Song

Best Theme

A ranking of all themes composed by John Williams.

1. "Flying"- E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) 
2. "The Raiders March" - Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
3. "Main Theme (Theme From 'Jaws')" - Jaws (1975)
4. "Theme From 'Superman'" - Jaws (1978) 
5. "Prologue/Tradition" - Fiddler on the Roof (1971)
6. "Main Title and Mountain Visions" - Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
7. "Theme From Born on the Fourth of July" - Born on the Fourth of July (1989)
8. "The Dances of Witches" - The Witches of Eastwick (1987)
9. "Track 01" - The River (1984)
10. "Main Title/The Ice Planet/Hoth" - Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
11. "Main Title" - The Towering Inferno (1974)
12. "Main Title/Rebel Blockade/Runner Medley" - Star Wars (1977)
13. "Wednesday Special (Main Theme)" - Cinderella Liberty (1973)
14. "Suo Gan" - Empire of the Sun (1987)
15. "Main Title/First Introduction/The Winton Flyer" - The Reivers (1969)
16. "Finale and End Credits"- Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
17. "River Song"- Tom Sawyer (1973)
18. "Where Did My Childhood Go?" - Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969)
19. "Theme from 'Valley of the Dolls'"/"Theme from 'Valley of the Dolls' - Reprise" - Valley of the Dolls (1967)
20. "End Credits (Raiders March)" - Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
21. "Main Title (The Story Continues)" - Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi  (1983)
22. "Opening Titles" - The Poseidon Adventure (1972)
23. "Main Theme" - The Accidental Tourist (1988)
24. "In Search of Unicorns" - Images (1972)

Best Song

A ranking of all Oscar-nominated songs composed by John Williams.

1. "Nice to Be Around" - Cinderella Liberty (1973)
2. "If We Were in Love" - Yes, Giorgio (1983)

Best Winner

A ranking of all winners composed by John Williams.

1. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) for Best Music, Original Score
2. Jaws (1975) for Best Music, Original Dramatic Score
3. Fiddler on the Roof (1971) for Best Music, Scoring Adaptation and Original Song Score
4. Star Wars (1977) for Best Music, Original Dramatic Score

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