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Incanus

Amistad Complete Score Break Down

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I think Amistad is a very interesting and quite a unique entry in Williams' ouvre and a slightly overlooked collaboration with Steven Spielberg. After watching the film a few times I ended up compiling a complete track list of the music and since we do not have an official cue list from any source (sheet music or otherwise) I made up my own track titles for the music, sometimes refering to the OST for help. Here is the cue/track list for the complete score as heard in the film and below a track list with notes which also notes how the music corresponds to the OST. Any comments and observations and revision suggestions are welcome.

Track List:

1. Dream Works Logo (0:20)

2. Main Title (0:22)

3. July, 1839 (1:51)

a) The Africans Take Over (0:54)

b) Cinque Under the Stars (1:29)

4. The Capture of La Amistad and Cinque – The Africans Are Led to the Prison (4:09)

5. Africans in their Cell (0:22)

6. The Senate – Mr. Tappan and Mr. Joadson Meets John Quincy Adams (5:05)

7. Baldwin, the Professor and Joadson Visit the Prison (2:18)

8. Baldwin Meets Cinque (1:22)

9. Map Drawing/Afrika! – La Amistad Inspected – Chains (5:29)

10. Mr. Joadson Appeals to Adams (4:56)

11. Searching for an Interpreter (1:09)

12. Cinque’s Memories of Home / Cinque’s Story of the Lion / The Other Lion (5:15)

13. Sierra Leone and the Capture of Cinque / Lomboko Slave Fortress (4:32)

14. Crossing the Atlantic / Feeding / Drowning of the Slaves (2:49)

15. Havana, Cuba / Slaves Renamed (2:06)

16. Middle Passage – Court Room Scene – “Give Us Free!” (5:48)

17. Cinque and Africans Wait for the Verdict (0:30)

18. Judge’s Conscience, Yamba Explains the Bible (3:36)

19. Walking to Hear the Verdict (1:00)

20. The Africans Celebrate / Cinque’s Frustration (Source Music Drums) (3:21)

21. Baldwin Writes to Mr. Adams (1:56)

22. Cinque’s Questions (2:02)

23. Cinque Meets Adams – The African Violet – Ancestors (5:01)

24. Adams’ Summation Part 1 (6:58)

25. Adam’s Summation Part 2 / Ancestral Help (2:53)

26. The Supreme Court Verdict / Goodbyes (4:41)

27. Liberation of Lomboko (2:12)

28. Going Home (2:02)

29. End Credits Part 1: Dry Your Tears Afrika (4:18)

30. End Credits Part 2: The Long Road to Justice (3:16)

Approximate Total Running Time: 94 minutes

 

 

Notes on the Chronological Film Score

1. Dream Works Logo (0:20)

2. Main Title (0:22) (OST Track 1, 0:00-0:22)

The opening credits music might be the original composition for the scene or tracked from track 1, with Pamela Dillard humming the first phrase of Cinque’s Theme.

3. July, 1839 (4:01) (Track 8)

Williams’ original composition for these scenes went unused for the most part. In the film the sequence can be divided in:

a) The Africans Take Over (0:22) (Tracked)

Another case of tracking from track 1 opening. This music underscores the African slaves on the ship after taking over.

This is followed by a short section from OST track 8 (1:38-2:10) (0:32)

b) Cinque Under the Stars (1:29) (Tracked)

Here the choral music is taken from track 6 Middle Passage (0:58-2:27) as we see Cinque changing course of the ship and navigating by the stars.

It can be surmised that OST track 8 (July, 1839) is the original version Williams composed for these two scenes (of which 1:38-2:10 used in the film) and it lines up quite well with them but especially the ending with the chanting male choir might have been too strong for the Cinque navigating under the stars scene. Williams’ original approach was eerie, frightening and rather grimly determined but the later tracked music suggests that Spielberg wanted to emphasize the spiritual aspect of the character here.

4. The Capture of La Amistad and Cinque – The Africans Are Led to the Prison (4:09)

(OST Track 2, 0:14-2:22 + 2:01 unreleased)

Track 2 (3:39): Only approximately 2:08 of the piece was used, the rest is more or less dialed out.

The opening 14 seconds of chanting are dialed out, the music starting with the percussion as the Africans hurry back to the ship as American Navy vessel approaches. After Cinque is captured the music is cut short (at 2:22 on the OST). The mix of the OST track 2 sounds slightly different from the film counterpart.

An alternate was used in the film for the Africans arriving at the prison (2:01 in length) featuring a forlorn light choir and some atmospheric scoring reminiscent in places of the original version found on the OST. The final piece is longer than the OST version by about 30 seconds.

5. Africans in their Cell (0:22) (Track 1, 0:00-0:22)

Another case of tracking Pamela Dillard’s humming of Cinque’s Theme from OST track 1.

6. The Senate – Mr. Tappan and Mr. Joadson Meets John Quincy Adams (5:05)

(Track 9, 0:00-3:47 + 1:18 unreleased music).

The music opens as Baldwin says goodbye to Tappan and Joadson and we transition to the Senate.

On the OST the music under the dialogue in the Senate garden between Mr.Adams and the two abolitionists is shortened (0:00-3:47) and continues for a little over a minute in the film.

7. Baldwin, the Professor and Joadson Visit the Prison (2:18) (Unreleased)

Lightly percussive piece slightly similar in style to the Cinque’s Memories of Home but with a low male choir quietly humming and chanting. Underscores the linguistic difficulties between the Africans and the trio of Americans.

8. Baldwin Meets Cinque (1:22) (Unreleased)

Delicate oboe, harp and strings cue for the scene where Baldwin meets Cinque for the first time.

9. Map Drawing/Afrika! – La Amistad Inspected – Chains (5:29) (Track 10, 0:00-1:58, unreleased 15 seconds which goes to track 10, 1:58-end.)

15 seconds of sustained dark low strings is missing from the middle section when Joadson peers into the dark cargo hold for the first time.

10. Mr. Joadson Appeals to Adams (4:56) (Unreleased 1:29 + track 9, 3:47-end.)

The opening 1:29 is missing from the OST as Adams talks to Joadson in the plant room. The music continues on the OST as the pair steps inside and Adams questions Joadson and the defence counsel’s methods of presenting the Africans, reminding him to find out their story.

11. Searching for an Interpreter (1:09) (Unreleased)

12. Cinque’s Memories of Home / Cinque’s Story of the Lion / The Other Lion (5:15) (Unreleased)

The whole sequence where Baldwin talks to Cinque in the prison is unreleased.

Track 5 is most likely an alternate / early version of the opening section of the piece.

crossfades to

13. Sierra Leone and the Capture of Cinque / Lomboko Slave Fortress (4:32) (Partially unreleased)

The music for the capture of Cinque is unreleased (2:29) and is followed by what sounds like tracked music from track 3 (approximately 1:36-end) which is repeated in places to cover the length of the scene.

14. Crossing the Atlantic / Feeding / Drowning of the Slaves (2:49) (Track 3?/unreleased)

The film version is shorter than track 3 and differs in editing and has alternate passages.

15. Havana, Cuba / Slaves Renamed (2:06) (Unreleased)

Sounds like the opening 1:05 is partially tracked from track 2 (~0:20-1:20), the rest is unreleased.

16. Middle Passage – Court Room Scene – “Give Us Free!” (5:48) (OST track 6)

The piece is looped in places to cover the scene in its entirety and there are drum overlays to accentuate some cuts but the OST version reflects most likely Williams’ original intention.

17. Cinque and Africans Wait for the Verdict (0:30) (Unreleased)

A short light percussion piece to add suspence for this short scene.

18. Judge’s Conscience, Yamba Explains the Bible (3:36) (Unreleased)

This is basically a long development of Cinque’s theme. OST track 4 (Cinque’s Theme)

might be either an alternate although it runs more than 30 seconds longer than the film version or it could be just a pure concert reworking of the music in this scene. It shares a number of passages with the film version.

19. Walking to Hear the Verdict (1:00) (Unreleased)

20. The Africans Celebrate / Cinque’s Frustration (Source Music Drums) (3:21) (Unreleased)

21. Baldwin Writes to Mr. Adams (1:56)

(Track 11, 0:00-1:56)

Missing a clean ending on the OST.

22. Cinque’s Questions (2:02) (Unreleased)

23. Cinque Meets Adams – The African Violet – Ancestors (5:01) (Unreleased)

24. Adams’ Summation Part 1 (6:58) (Partially unreleased)

(Track 12 0:00-1:37 + 5:21 of unreleased material)

Most of Adams’ summation is unreleased.

25. Adam’s Summation Part 2 / Ancestral Help (2:53) (1:35 unreleased + 1:18 of Track 12 (1:38-end))

26. The Supreme Court Verdict / Goodbyes (4:41) (Unreleased)

27. Liberation of Lomboko (2:12)

(Track 11, 1:56-end). Missing a clean opening on the OST.

28. Going Home (2:02) (Track 13)

OST contains the complete composition.

29. End Credits Part 1: Dry Your Tears Afrika (4:18) (Track 1)

Again the OST has the complete piece.

30. End Credits Part 2: The Long Road to Justice (3:16) (Track 7)

A concert suite of John Quincy Adams Theme.

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I only listened to the OST once. I didn't really like it, but i said the same with Empire of the Sun, and now i love that score (expect a complete score breakdown of it soon!). So i think i'll listen to Amistad again.

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It's a good score and the african elements were new to Williams oeuvre, but whenever the inspirational americana mode is activated, the whole thing drops dead (in the movie). There are only so much eloquent quotations from the american constitution one can take in tandem with LINCOLN PORTRAIT playing in the backgound.

Spielberg rises to the occasion in the slave scenes and it could have been brilliant without the usual white-massa-saviour crap. He touches this subject in a short scene with McConaughy when the slaves make fun of him. It would have been wonderful if the whole movie would have stayed with them, as it IS about losing home and identity.

There is one swell of kitschy chorus in the GIVE US FREE scene where people in the cinema started to laugh derisively....and they were right.

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The African part is certainly the strongest, but the Americana stuff is still nice. Still, I like how it interacts with the rest of the score. The first dose of Americana feels wildly out of place, but JW slowly merges it with the African material, thematically and instrumentally, which is an interesting approach I think.

Thanks for the analysis, Incanus!

Also, here's an interesting review by Doug Adams:

http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/articles/1997/23_Dec---Amistad_DA.asp

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Doug Adams puts it quite succintly. I mostly agree with him on these different aspects of the score and he has infact made some great observations and interpretations of the music and its message.

If there is something dramatically a bit unsound in the score it is the overuse of the Americana music in dialogue scenes. I was, even though a huge fan of this type of writing from Williams, forced to admit that it dilutes the power of the dialogue (or monologues) in the court room scenes somewhat and more careful and sparse spotting would have been welcome. And I think the only overt misstep in the score is indeed "Give Us Free!" scene since it is in itself dramatically maudling and the music doesn't really help to sell it, quite the opposite. It might work on the album but it doesn't resonate positively in the film. To Williams' credit I have to say the underscore of that scene before the outburst of Dry Your Tears Afrika is excellent and ratchets the tension appropriately.

Otherwise I think Amistad is a very interesting and beautiful score, the African choral, soloist and the percussion writing being indeed the highlight along with a few Americana passages with Tim Morrison and James Thatcher as soloists. And the Americana in Amistad is the beginning of a relatively long period during which Williams was called upon to write and answered to some of his film scoring assignments with such music, the subject matter of the movies in the late 90's and early 2000's demanding similar Americana approach. Closest equivalents in his scores before Amistad for this type of scoring are the three Oliver Stone films where both the noble brass solos and elegiac string writing appear prominently.

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I've always been disappointed that Cinque didn't shoot lightning out of his fingertips.

Also he didn't have a red cape and a spandex suit with a big C, or should it be S, on the chest.

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