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Thor

The Patriot (John Williams)

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This has gotten a lot of flack for being 'autopilot' Williams, and to a certain extent, I can understand what people mean (the main theme being surprisingly similar to the AMISTAD theme, for example). But damn, it's good writing. It was a passion project for Williams, since he wanted to do fife-and-drums music and other modes of music of the era -- so it cannot have been totally bereft of inspiration. I also really like the film, but then I'm a big Emmerich fan to begin with. I love Mel Gibson in this mode -- raw, emotional, rugged, intense.

 

The only drawback with it is that it prevented more collaborations with David Arnold. Emmerich's post-Arnold scores have certainly not been the same, even if several of the films themselves have been good.

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I love the main theme (most of the themes actually) and around half an hour of the rest. The rest of it doesn't do much for me.

 

Susan Speaks has been a particular highlight for me since my early soundtrack days. I definitely wouldn't say the score is autopilot, rather that most of it is rather average, with some moments of genius.

 

Never paid any attention to the film. I think Emmerich was a bit of a knob for deciding Arnold wasn't good enough to do this.

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18 hours ago, Richard Penna said:

Not even giving his career-long collaborator a chance?

 

And then to Kloser... oh dear.

 

I got quite a shock when I read that Emmerich considered Kloser for The Patriot when he axed Arnold. Was he just after someone who he felt comfortable communicating with? It seems Devlin was always the one talking about the music in DVD commentaries and Emmerich would just go silent about it.

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I just love the rustic beginning of the theme with guitar and Mark O'Connor's fiddle. It was a real nice surprise for me when I realized a couple of years ago we shared an interest in seedy nut jobs/scammers/fraudsters: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/japan/11188226/Violin-teacher-Suzuki-is-the-biggest-fraud-in-music-history-says-expert.html

 

I got in touch and helped him a little with his research. It was surreal messaging to the guy whose fiddle I had enjoyed for some 15 years without having a clue who he was.

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10 hours ago, Stefancos said:

Arnold at his best is more fun than Williams somewhat on auto-pilot. even though Williams is the better composer.

 

 Pretty much any composer is more fun at their best than Williams on autopilot. I wouldn't consider The Patriot autopilot though - it's just got some less interesting sections.

 

I've long considered the ultimate autopilot JW to be AotC. I think just about anyone would've had some more fun and given us a more memorable score.

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Has there ever been a recording of the concert version of The Patriot theme?  I remember seeing the Boston Pops play it on TV during a July 4th concert the year the movie came out, but I don't think I've heard it since.  It's quite different from the OST track, it's more of a medley of bits and pieces from the score, with the fiddle theme appearing in the middle of the piece, between the brassy themes.  The 6-CD City of Prague box set doesn't having anything from The Patriot, and they usually record everything...I was wondering if there is another version floating around somewhere.  I'd be curious to hear it again (although I think the OST version works perfectly as a concert version; I especially like the version with the fife-and-drum conclusion). 

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1 hour ago, Richard Penna said:

 

 Pretty much any composer is more fun at their best than Williams on autopilot. I wouldn't consider The Patriot autopilot though - it's just got some less interesting sections.

 

I've long considered the ultimate autopilot JW to be AotC. I think just about anyone would've had some more fun and given us a more memorable score.

 

Any composer? Really?

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I agree that we shouldn't be making judgements about the composer's creative process, however I think sometimes you can get a feeling that the composer felt less inspired by a project. I wouldn't say The Patriot is one of those cases - I just don't find his lower key material very interesting.

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Is The Patriot really Williams on autopilot? I'm not saying it's great or anything, but you can trace the evolution of later music back to this one. Revenge of the Sith and The Force Awakens, for instance, (because you all know those) feature Williams in Patriot mode. If that was autopilot, what the hell does that make those?

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The long-lined gentle theme that opens the album, especially the violin rendition, is absolute gold and worth the price of the album alone. Otherwise, I feel Williams' score sounded a bit dated at that time when historical epics like Braveheart or Gladiator (to which The Patriot was often compared) made a more 'feminine' and vulnerable sound the norm. Willams went for bombast and a more traditional, heroic approach which in the end hurt the film more than it did good. One of my least played Williams soundtracks...

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42 minutes ago, Incanus said:

Mark O'Connor's fiddling is a highlight in The Patriot suite and his talents and the rustic Americana colouration might have actually benefitted the whole score.

 

Absolutely..!

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I've always found this a highly evocative section of music, another JW example of music married with visuals so perfectly you can't imagine anything else accompanying it:

 

And I always found this recurring motif to be very haunting and memorable, certainly unlike many other scores he's written:

 

Williams clearly found inspiration from the film to write such music; not sure I've ever understood the 'autopilot' criticism. The Book Thief feels a lot more 'autopilot' than his writing here.

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2 hours ago, crumbs said:

Williams clearly found inspiration from the film to write such music; not sure I've ever understood the 'autopilot' criticism. The Book Thief feels a lot more 'autopilot' than his writing here.

 

Oh, certainly agree there. While I do think it has many 'autopilot' Americana elements (and the theme bearing a lazy resemblance to AMISTAD), it is a million times more enjoyable than THE BOOK THIEF, which is -- IMO -- one of the weakest scores JW has ever written. Which is quite surprising, because in this case, too, he was the one who sought out the assignment after having loved the book.

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5 minutes ago, Thor said:

it is a million times more enjoyable than THE BOOK THIEF, which is -- IMO -- one of the weakest scores JW has ever written.

 

You'll piss off Hornist again!

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On ‎3‎/‎26‎/‎2017 at 0:14 PM, Richard Penna said:

Not even giving his career-long collaborator a chance?

 

Didn't Arnold write demos that they rejected?  I wasn't under the impression that they went right to Williams.

 

Regardless, the autopilot criticism is ridiculous.  While nothing groundbreaking occurred in the score, the music doesn't strike me as a composer who had a lack of inspiration.  A lot of care was still put into the score.  Autopilot means someone is just going through the motions.  That is not the case, the constant use of the word is a bit obnoxious.

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2 minutes ago, nightscape94 said:

Didn't Arnold write demos that they rejected?  I wasn't under the impression that they went right to Williams.

 

That is correct. They only changed to Williams when they heard he was interested.

 

2 minutes ago, nightscape94 said:

 

Regardless, the autopilot criticism is ridiculous.  While nothing groundbreaking occurred in the score, the music doesn't strike me as a composer who had a lack of inspiration.  A lot of care was still put into the score.  Autopilot means someone is just going through the motions.  That is not the case, the constant use of the word is a bit obnoxious.

 

As someone who quite likes this score, I understand your sentiment. I'm also open to other words that would describe it better. But regardless of how inspired or not JW was, the overall impression or the way it comes off, is that of something competent that draws a bit on Williams' "back catalogue" of gimmicks and tricks.

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6 minutes ago, nightscape94 said:

 

Didn't Arnold write demos that they rejected?  I wasn't under the impression that they went right to Williams.

 

Regardless, the autopilot criticism is ridiculous.  While nothing groundbreaking occurred in the score, the music doesn't strike me as a composer who had a lack of inspiration.  A lot of care was still put into the score.  Autopilot means someone is just going through the motions.  That is not the case, the constant use of the word is a bit obnoxious.

 

Well...that's just like...your opinion, man!

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1 minute ago, Thor said:

As someone who quite likes this score, I understand your sentiment. I'm also open to other words that would describe it better..

 

My complaint about the word usage was not directed toward you at all.  Oddly, I only really see that word used almost exclusively when it comes to just this score.  As everyone has continued to espouse the idea and propagate it, it slowly seems to have become fact or widely accepted.

 

But your comments about it being accused of this label are correct.

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It sounded like Williams on autopilot the first time I heard it. After a run of very interesting scores like Sleepers, Seven Years, Nixon, The Phantom Menace etc it was very much back to basics.

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While THE PATRIOT wouldn't scrape into my all-time JW top 50, it is, however, a solid piece of work. I'll agree with Nightie; it's nothing special, but still light years ahead of what was passing for film music, at that time.

 

1 hour ago, Thor said:

...it's is a million times more enjoyable than THE BOOK THIEF, which is -- IMO -- one of the weakest scores JW has ever written.

 

A fair comment, but, hands up, who thought that THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST was a stone cold classic, when they first heard it?

Sometimes, scores can "creep up' on you. TAT did, and maybe, THE PATRIOT will, one day.

I'd rather JW at his worst, than some composers, at their best.

 

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It sounds more like people are just upset more with the genre of music than anything to do with it being generic.  Do people get this upset when they listen to any of his fanfares, e.g. Liberty Fanfare, Olympic Fanfare, Olympic Spirit, etc?  It's a genre that he can access, but if he wrote another next week would it be autopilot by default simply for that reason?

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I think that you are mistaking personal preference, with objective comment. I can't tell you exactly why THE PATRIOT doesn't really do it for me. All I know is that the score just doesn't do it for me.

For example: most people would prefer LEGEND, over LINK, even there was only six months between their composition.

Not me. I'll take LINK, and tell LEGEND to f-off. But that's just me. LINK has a feel, a vibe that LEGEND does not have, even though it is by far the more accomplished score. 

Similarly, THE PATRIOT, while being a well-crafted piece of work, is, for me, less than the sum of it's parts.

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I'm not mistaking anything, the people accusing it of autopilot are. 

 

I think people simply have a tolerance of how much of one type of Williams they can handle, and anything over the limit is then accused of genericism, which speaks nothing about the quality of the music itself.

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9 minutes ago, Richard said:

For example: most people would prefer LEGEND, over LINK,

 

I like both!  Sure, I guess I "prefer" Legend, but they satisfy in incredibly different ways.  I love Link because it makes me think of Fall.  Without fail, I put that OST on and I'm transported to a world of chilly evenings, colorful foliage, and jack-o-lanterns sitting on porches.  Such an effective "Halloween-y" score.

 

I've never seen the movie and I don't want to, I prefer the images the music sparks in my imagination.

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41 minutes ago, nightscape94 said:

I think people simply have a tolerance of how much of one type of Williams they can handle, and anything over the limit is then accused of genericism, which speaks nothing about the quality of the music itself.

 

Though that sounds like out of the relativist '100 reasons why JW can't suck' rulebook. The quality of the music, at least in part, is defined by its value within a larger repertoire, at least if you want to critically discuss it (not just fanblaze it). So it's only fair to admit that however well written it might be, it also suffers from too much familiarity (in several departments). It's a shoddy movie, anyway...

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