Sunday, March 18, 2018

Composing Greatness: #36. John Williams - "The Patriot" (2000)

Scene from The Patriot
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: The Patriot (2000)
Collaborators (If Available): N/A
Nomination: Best Original Score
Did He Win: No

Other Nominees:
-Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Tan Dun)*winner
-Chocolat (Rachel Portman)
-Gladiator (Hans Zimmer)
-Malena (Ennio Morricone)

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: 39
Oscar Wins: 5

Track List

1. "The Patriot"
2. "The Family Farm"
3. "To Charleston"
4. "The Colonial Cause"
5. "Redcoats at the Farm, the Death of Thomas"
6. "Ann Recruits the Parishoners"
7. "Preparing for Battle"
8. "Ann and Gabriel"
9. "The First Ambush, Remembering the Wilderness"
10. "Tavington's Trap"
11. "The Burning of the Plantation"
12. "Facing the British Lines"
13. "The Parish Church"
14. "Susan Speaks"
15. "Martin vs. Tavington"
16. "Yorktown and Return Home"
17. "The Patriot Reprise"

Note: Listen to here.

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:
"The Patriot"

I think this is about as focused as this overall score gets, and even then it's all about the building and changes within it. For the brief moment that there's a violin, it introduces something elegant and pure before building up with Revolutionary War motifs that are grandiose in all the ways that John Williams can't help but be. It's not exactly his greatest work, as it echoes themes from his better films. Even then, his secret weapon is found in the way that the music builds, creating a deeper emotion that's hard to ignore. It's powerful stuff, and even the lesser Williams is pretty good. If anything is wrong with this track, it's that it implies how all over the place the rest of the music inevitably is. Unlike other times, that's kind of a bad thing here. 

Interesting Standout:
"Tavington's Trap"

Here is a point where a drama, set during the Revolutionary War, becomes a bit baffling for John Williams. Where he's known to elegantly string every style together in a flawless tapestry, here he jumps from the sweet and simple tones to something faster and, frankly, not even from this movie. This is one of a few times where the music forgoes the Revolutionary War themes and goes all out for something ribald, fast, and arguably out of Star Wars (maybe the George Lucas prequels were on his mind?). There's no better example than here, where the music speeds through what sounds like planes shooting at each other while getting to the Death Star. It's good, but it's so out of place sonically that it's hard to really get into. Maybe if Star Wars didn't exist, this would be fine. However, I still believe it contradicts the heart of the other music too much to even be that effective. 

Best Moment:
"Preparing for Battle"

The music here is best when John Williams goes for the marching drums and the horns blaring triumphantly a battle cry of freedom. Here it manages to connect the quieter moments to the intense ones to come. It has yet to become an insanely discordant score and still has some heart in the 18th century. It's the type of music that captures the mood beautifully, making one want to see the heroes succeed. It's preparation music at its finest, and it does so with a somber tone that's still fitting with the more elegant passages of this score. It also doesn't help that the quiter moments are, in some ways, too similar to stand out from each other. Still, Williams does every bit justice there and makes it at least enjoyably sentimental. 

Did This Deserve an Oscar Nomination?:

It is difficult to really knock this score, which would be considered very good in anyone else's hands. But for John Williams, who is now 39 Oscar nominations deep, it can't help but be compared to his finest moments, which are much, much better than this. It's not an exceptional score and is actually all over the place tonally. However, it's still good enough to qualify as an effective score. It makes for a decent ride through motifs he's done better both in dramas, and in fantasy films like Star Wars. I wish that I could love this score, but it's one of the most middle of the road hits that he's made that still has some endearing merit behind it. 

Up Next: A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001) for Best Original Score

Best Theme

A ranking of all themes composed by John Williams.

1. "Flying"- E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
2. "Theme from Schindler's List" - Schindler's List (1993) 
3. "The Raiders March" - Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
4. "Main Theme (Theme From 'Jaws')" - Jaws (1975)
5. "Theme From 'Superman'" - Superman (1978) 
6. "Prologue/Tradition" - Fiddler on the Roof (1971)
7. "Theme from JFK" - JFK (1991)
8. "Main Title and Mountain Visions" - Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
9. "Theme From Born on the Fourth of July" - Born on the Fourth of July (1989)
10. "Hymns of the Fallen" - Saving Private Ryan (1998)
11. "Sleepers at Wilkinson" - Sleepers (1996)
12. "The Dances of Witches" - The Witches of Eastwick (1987)
13. "Dry your Tears, Afrika" - Amistad (1997)
14. "Track 01" - The River (1984)
15. "Theme from Angela's Ashes" - Angela's Ashes (1999)
16. "Main Title/The Ice Planet/Hoth" - Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
17. "Main Title" - The Towering Inferno (1974)
18. "Main Title/Rebel Blockade/Runner Medley" - Star Wars (1977)
19. "Wednesday Special (Main Theme)" - Cinderella Liberty (1973)
20. "Suo Gan" - Empire of the Sun (1987)
21. "Main Title/First Introduction/The Winton Flyer" - The Reivers (1969)
22. "Finale and End Credits"- Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
23. "River Song"- Tom Sawyer (1973)
24. "The Patriot" - The Patriot (2000)
25. "Where Did My Childhood Go?" - Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969)
26. "Theme from 'Valley of the Dolls'"/"Theme from 'Valley of the Dolls' - Reprise" - Valley of the Dolls (1967)
27. "End Credits (Raiders March)" - Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
28. "Home Alone Theme" - Home Alone (1990)
29. "Main Title (The Story Continues)" - Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi  (1983)
30. "Main Title... The White House Gate" - Nixon (1995)
31. "Opening Titles" - The Poseidon Adventure (1972)
32. "Main Theme" - The Accidental Tourist (1988)
33. "In Search of Unicorns" - Images (1972)

Best Song

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

1. "Somewhere in My Memory" - Home Alone (1990)
2. "Nice to Be Around" - Cinderella Liberty (1973)
3. "When You're Alone" - Hook (1991)
4. "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. Schindler's List (1993) for Best Music, Original Score
3. Jaws (1975) for Best Music, Original Dramatic Score
4. Fiddler on the Roof (1971) for Best Music, Scoring Adaptation and Original Song Score
5. Star Wars (1977) for Best Music, Original Dramatic Score

No comments:

Post a Comment