Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thursday Token Themes

Welcome a new weekly feature here at Movies With Abe. I’m a hugely enthusiastic fan of film scores, and music is far too often an element of cinema that goes unrecognized. Therefore I present a platform for a look – or rather, a listen – to some fantastic film scores. I’ll be selecting a composer and one or more of their film scores for your listening pleasure, embedded from YouTube.

This week’s featured composer is John Powell, who earned his first Oscar nomination this year for the thunderous score to “How to Train Your Dragon.” What’s interesting about that composition (“Test Drive”) is that it stands in stark contrast to a number of his previous themes, starting out loud, strong, and celebrator rather than building from a subtle start. Take his first motion picture theme – “Face/Off” – which begins as a cool, smooth anthem and then gets considerably more intense right around the 3:40 mark as events in the film guide it to do so (more specifically, John Travolta being told not to “play chicken with the damn plane”). Consider also Powell’s affecting scores set to films based on real-life events, the heartbreaking “The End” track from “United 93” and “Testify” from this past year’s “Fair Game.” Both tracks in particular help to solidify and strengthen their films’ respective tones, and both go almost unnoticed as they simply serve to support the drama of the film. What I would term as my favorite and most identifiable Powell theme, however, is the music written for “The Bourne Supremacy.” Many will identify it as being from the third film in the series, but it was actually composed for the far superior second film and then re-used in “The Bourne Ultimatum.” The best track, “To the Roof,” starts off moody and then picks up and goes all out right around the 2:45 mark.

How to Train Your Dragon (2010)

Face/Off (1997)

United 93 (2006)

Fair Game (2010)

The Bourne Supremacy (2004)

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