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Alex Apr 11, 2008

Well, the latest Indiana Jones soundtrack by John Williams apparently has a May 20th release date.  Amazon has it up for preorder for $9.98 ( … B00171MNM4), and the track list has some intriguing (but spoiler-laden) titles.

I don't know how I feel about the movie yet -- I really want to like it but I don't know if I'll be able to -- but I'm cautiously optimistic about the music.  The soundtrack from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is one of my all-time favorite movie soundtracks, so if this one is even half as good I'll be satisfied.  Really, Last Crusade was perfect in that it had distinct (and brilliant) themes for just about everything in the movie.  Even the action music -- like the motorcycle chase and the Venetian boat chase -- was all amazingly melodic and memorable instead of typical Hollywood cacophonous orchestra with crazy percussion.  That movie was the pinnacle for Williams, and maybe for all of film music.

On the other hand, it's true that Jurassic Park was the last score by Williams to really blow me away.  He's had some great cues here and there since then, but not a full score like so many of his earlier projects.  Even the recent Star Wars prequels that I had high hopes for just didn't do anything for me other than a couple of themes.  But really, if any franchise can bring back the John Williams of the 1980s, I think it's Indiana Jones.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

Wanderer Apr 11, 2008

Raiders of the Lost Ark is widely considered the best Indiana Jones score (and one of the best Williams ever wrote). I'm not expecting anything close to that level of quality... but Williams rarely lets me down. I'm eagerly anticipating the music (and cautiously optimistic with the movie).

Angela Apr 12, 2008

Unlike the two of you, I think I'm perhaps being OVERLY optimistic about the new Indy, both film and music. I'm literally checking every day for any newly announced tidbit.

Alex, I concur; The Last Crusade was far and away my favorite of the three original Indy scores.  It's combines the best of Williams whimsy, memorable themes, and series-setting adventurous overtones. The thematic material is particularly strong here; I love the "Scherzo For Motorcycle And Orchestra" theme as well as the holy grail/Jones Sr. motif and the new theme for the Nazis.  And.... Der Koniggratzer. :)

Raiders of The Lost Ark is no slouch, either.  I enjoy Marion's Theme, and am hoping Williams will bring it back for the new one.  And the Temple of Doom actually has one of my most favorite Indy-related themes in the entire series, and that's the "Slave Children's Crusade."

Anyway, I'm excited as hell for the Crystal Skull soundtrack.  Who isn't?  A new Indy score in a 21st century Williams suit; I'm primed.


Right, and lemme just peg this other thread early on, so we don't have potential confusion later over film discussion and music discussion:

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of The Crystal Skull film discussion thread: … hp?id=3400

Qui-Gon Joe Apr 12, 2008

I admit also finding Williams' post-Jurassic Park stuff not to be as good as what he did in the 80s.  I'm still pumped about him doing a new Indiana Jones score, though.  Am I the only one here who likes the Temple of Doom soundtrack best of the three, though (did they ever release a CD in the US?  I was just looking at my Japanese copy wondering that yesterday).

TerraEpon Apr 12, 2008

Angela wrote:

Anyway, I'm excited as hell for the Crystal Skull soundtrack.  Who isn't?  A new Indy score in a 21st century Williams suit; I'm primed.

Not to mention, it should be a nice long CD.


Angela May 1, 2008

Looks like the very first review of the soundtrack is up online.  Translated into English from Alexandre Poncet's original French writing: … 7&Itemid=1

Some notes in particular from the review:

The Raiders March is, of course, back, "which is put through every possible and imaginable tonality, denying sometimes the melody, but keeping only the recognizable rhythm."  Irina's Theme is described as being "melancholic, noble and threatening, evoking an ambitious and tragic Russia."  Marion's theme appears to be making a return, though it's implied that it will be built and expanded upon.  The theme of the Crystal Skull is said to share a similar leitmotif to the original's Ark theme, though Poncet feels it's the weakest of all the themes in the series.

It seems that the first half of the soundtrack is thematically strong, while the second half falls into darker territory, with much of the Crystal Skull theme being utilized.  The Finale end credits is ten minutes long, right on par to the amazing ending of The Last Crusade.

The site also has brief midi notations of a handful of themes for listen, but seriously..... you'd do the music no justice if you decide to make these your first listen of the score.  Resist!

Alex May 7, 2008

That soundtrack article was an interesting read, not to mention charmingly stilted as well.  I couldn't bring myself to listen to the MIDI mockups, but fortunately Amazon posted previews on their MP3 section today ( … B00193EGNY).  They’re pretty short clips -- probably 30 seconds each -- but it makes for a nice teaser.  Less than two weeks left!

Angela May 8, 2008

Alex wrote:

I couldn't bring myself to listen to the MIDI mockups, but fortunately Amazon posted previews on their MP3 section today ( … B00193EGNY).  They’re pretty short clips -- probably 30 seconds each -- but it makes for a nice teaser.  Less than two weeks left!

The samples are sounding pretty excellent.  The Adventures of Mutt sounds it's going to be a fun piece, and I'm digging the new Raiders March reprisal in Journey To Akator.  But it's most wonderful hearing Marion's Theme again, which is spotted in Finale.

Wanderer May 8, 2008

As usual with 30-second samples, this was just a teaser. I did like some of the less atmospheric clips though, like "Ants!" and of course the reprise of Marion's theme.

Man, it's gonna be nice to see Marion again. wink

Angela May 20, 2008

At long last, the soundtrack is here.  I really wanted to wait to write a more fleshed-out review AFTER seeing the film, but I can't resist throwing in my quick two or three cents from what I've heard so far. 

From the clear and distinguished use of themes to the overall sonic mastery of both performance and recording, I'd say we've got a winner on our hands.  The moods contrast heavily between unrelenting dark and adventurous lightheartedness; if the score is any indication, film writer David Koepp may have nailed it right by stating that Crystal Skull reaches a balanced ground between Temple of Doom and The Last Crusade. 

The new Raiders March is actually hardly new at all; it's a pitch-perfect adaptation of the Raiders of the Lost Ark End Credits, right down to the arrangement of Marion's Theme and reprisal of the track's finale.  The performance is spot-on, but it's disappointing that Williams didn't try and do anything new or innovative here.  Points for nostalgia, though; I got the same sweet vibe I experienced with Star Wars Episode III's revival of the SW Main Titles and Leia's Theme in the "A New Hope and End Credits" track.

Call of the Crystal is the first of several dark pieces, introducing both the Crystal Skull motif as well as Irina's.  The complete opposite plays off of the jubilantly revved-up "The Adventures of Mutt" - the deftly coordinated speed of the strings and brass here is just awe-inspiring, a true testament to the London Symphony Orchestra's incredible talent.  Irina's Theme swings back to dark; "threatening," as Poncet's review states - yet exotic, almost seducing, making it strangely addicting to listen to.  I really can't wait to see how her character clicks in the film.  The Journey To Akator is the biggest surprise; in addition to some spirited throwbacks to the Raiders March, we've got an unexpected segue into that Peruvian piece that Poncet mentioned.  This is sure to throw any long-time listeners for a loop, but its celebratory mood is a welcome change of pace from all the orchestral bombast, and has me extremely curious to see what the sequence is about.  (I wonder if this is where Williams is using the much talked about "continuum" instrument?)

The Jungle Chase, the hugely-lauded action piece in the film, has plenty going on musically.  It's an exciting conglomeration of the film's principle themes, including Irina's, Mutt's and the Raiders March.  (Hearing Irina here in full battle mode, in particular, is serious fun.)  The Finale serves as the concert suite of the score, bringing every theme together in a nice, tight package.  (With Marion's Theme, it is curious to note that other than here and the first track, you never really hear her theme throughout the rest of the score, save for what I *think* is a brief and fairly unsettling version heard in Orellana's Cradle.  I'm venturing a guess that this was a conscious choice for the CD release, and that we'll likely hear more variations in the film itself.)  Williams does something new for the final statement of the Raiders March, adding new harmonic flourishes, and finishing it with a brand new spin on the finale.

The rest of the score dwells on the atmospheric and ambient, something I'll probably grow a fonder appreciation of after seeing the film in context - but overall, the soundtrack as a whole is pretty excellent.  It's still too soon for me to say if it'll reach the greatness that is The Last Crusade, but it's undoubtedly a worthy and befitting entry in the musical series.

Wanderer May 20, 2008

I'm *really* split on this score. To no one's surprise, it's 00s Williams' take on an 80s franchise. This has good and bad elements. First, the good:

Williams does a good job integrating his Indy theme into the score. At times, it feels at odds with his modern sound but I don't think that can be helped. On the other hand, his Marion theme is oddly missing from the bulk of the score, just popping up in a concert suite and what is likely the final scene of the film (leading into the end credits).

I LOVE "Call of the Crystal." Terrific, dark, brooding. A lot of its material is reprised in "Temple Ruins and the Secret Revealed", which sounds like the climax of the film, Williams doing his best "WE'RE ALL DOOMED!" chaos. I was reminded of the Dementors material from Azkaban. Note the final tortured rendition of Irina's theme at the very end, where Cate Blanchett's character probably meets her fate. Or not. I remain unspoiled. wink

I'm not nearly as thrilled with the action music. It's not that it's bad... it's just that we've heard it done so many times by this composer that there's nothing new to offer (aside from Ants! which is actually pretty exciting). I think "The Jungle Chase" would actually be a lot of fun if it weren't so obviously edited to death (take a listen to 1:56). They say the actual jungle chase is twice as long in the film and based on this cue, I believe it.

Cues like "Oxley's Dilemma" and "Orellana's Cradle" are appropriately brooding but not necessarily all that interesting on album. They remind me a lot of similar cues from WotW. I'll wait to pass judgment until I hear them in context. Unfortunately, early reports are saying that the music is brutally undermixed in the film and not terribly effective. I blame George Lucas.

I don't think this is a 5-star Williams effort... but it still easily eclipses what's generally churned out for film these days. I'm going to be very sad when he passes on.

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