Sunday, June 10, 2018

Composing Greatness: #43. John Williams - "The Adventures of Tintin" (2011)

Scene from The Adventures of Tintin
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 Adventures of Tintin (2011)
Collaborators (If Available): N/A
Nomination: Best Original Score
Did He Win: No

Other Nominees:
-The Artist (Ludovic Bource)*winner
-Hugo (Howard Shore)
-Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Alberto Iglesias)
-War Horse (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: 46
Oscar Wins: 5

Track List

1. "The Adventures of Tintin"
2. "Snowy's Theme"
3. "The Secret of the Scrolls"
4. "Introducing the Thompsons and Snowy's Chase"
5. "Marlinspike Hall"
6. "Escape from the Karaboudjan"
7. "Sir Francis and the Unicorn"
8. "Captain Haddok Takes the Oars"
9. "Red Rackam's Curse and the Treasure"
10. "Capturing Mr. Silk"
11. "The Flight to Bagghar"
12. "The Milanese Nightingale"
13. "Presenting Blanca Castafiore"
14. "The Pursuit of the Falcon"
15. "The Captain's Counsel"
16. "The Clash of the Cranes"
17. "The Return to Marlinspike Hall and Finale"
18. "The Adventure Continues"

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 Adventures of Tintin"

The one thing that should be noted about this score is that John Williams clearly was going through a lot of his greatest hits. In this case, he opens with a great callback to his jazzier scores, of which perfectly capture the espionage angle by which the character will get involved with. Even when he's borrowing from himself, there's a strong sense of fun and originality to what he does that makes the music pop with life. The album as a whole features some of his stronger motifs from this late in his career. However, this is one of the few that also doesn't just sound like a direct lift of something we've heard him do before, whether it be from Jurassic Park, Star Wars, or even Harry Potter.

Interesting Standout:
"Presenting Blanca Castafiore"

The album is a bit too manic and all over the place to really have one piece stand out. However, what is clearly different is the music for the opera scene. It would get points for merely being a track with singing on it. However, it's one of the few John Williams scores to also feature the sound of props from the movie. Yes, the glass shatters as the opera singer sings a bit too high. It's also fun to hear him do a waltz in between all of this manic action. As a whole, it's odd because it doesn't flow with the other tracks all that well. Even then, it's the perfect set up for the next motif in the song directly following it.

Best Moment:
"The Adventure Continues"

If there's bound to be one track that is remembered from this movie, it's John Williams' closing track where he brings back the motif from the pirate flashbacks. Here he gives the jaunty sea melodies an extra life with aggressive strings and a bombast that shoots across the entire track. Even the fade-out and return has a cleverness to it that makes it the quintessential fun track. While yes, there's many motifs on here that are fun, this is the only one that's likely to be considered great or even evidence that the master composer still has a vitality to him. 

Did This Deserve an Oscar Nomination?:

As much as the back half gets overwhelming and doesn't feel as interesting, this is John Williams doing his greatest hits in a fun and inventive form. While there's entire motifs that sound ripped from Jurassic Park, Harry Potter, and Star Wars, he still knows how to compose a tune that gets the listener engaged. It also helps that "The Adventure Continues" is one of his greatest tracks, regardless of soundtrack. It's interesting to note that this was his first score in three years, and that it was his first for an animated movie. Nothing about his score really says animated, but I think that's what makes it stand out more. It's the perfect adventure theme for audiences young and not too familiar with the standards that Williams and Steven Spielberg pulled from to make this film work.

Up Next: War Horse (2011) 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. "Prologue" - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001)
10. "Sayuri's Theme" - Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)
11. "Theme From Born on the Fourth of July" - Born on the Fourth of July (1989)
12. "Hymns of the Fallen" - Saving Private Ryan (1998)
13. "Cybertronics" - A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)
14. "Munich, 1972" - Munich (2005)
15. "Sleepers at Wilkinson" - Sleepers (1996)
16. "The Dances of Witches" - The Witches of Eastwick (1987)
17. "The Adventures of Tintin" - The Adventures of Tintin (2011)
18. "Dry your Tears, Afrika" - Amistad (1997)
19. "Track 01" - The River (1984)
20. "Theme from Angela's Ashes" - Angela's Ashes (1999)
21. "Main Title/The Ice Planet/Hoth" - Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
22. "Catch Me If You Can" - Catch Me If You Can (2002)
23. "Main Title" - The Towering Inferno (1974)
24. "Main Title/Rebel Blockade/Runner Medley" - Star Wars (1977)
25. "Wednesday Special (Main Theme)" - Cinderella Liberty (1973)
26. "Lumos!" - Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2003)
27. "Suo Gan" - Empire of the Sun (1987)
28. "Main Title/First Introduction/The Winton Flyer" - The Reivers (1969)
29. "Finale and End Credits"- Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
30. "River Song"- Tom Sawyer (1973)
31. "The Patriot" - The Patriot (2000)
32. "Where Did My Childhood Go?" - Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969)
33. "Theme from 'Valley of the Dolls'"/"Theme from 'Valley of the Dolls' - Reprise" - Valley of the Dolls (1967)
34. "End Credits (Raiders March)" - Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
35. "Home Alone Theme" - Home Alone (1990)
36. "Main Title (The Story Continues)" - Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi  (1983)
37. "Main Title... The White House Gate" - Nixon (1995)
38. "Opening Titles" - The Poseidon Adventure (1972)
39. "Main Theme" - The Accidental Tourist (1988)
40. "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

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