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Is John Williams' Amistad generally underrated?


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Sorry to hear it. It stands as a towering beacon of the 90s in my book. The 'Enya'-style parts, the love theme, the action music -- and the variations thereof. It added to the stupendous, visceral feel of 'being there' and a string of 'mini movies', typical of Cameron. I don't care diddly-squat if the Celine Dion-performed song version of theme is a cheeseball of gigantic proportions; there is so much else to this score.  I must have seen the film some 15 times over the years. Whenever it's on the telly, I can't escape it. I'm instantly drawn in.

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I feel like this score doesn't get enough love. Hopefully it will be re-evaluated once Mike has the chance to expand it; the OST leaves a lot to be desired (and is vastly incomplete). With only a hand

1994-1999 is the only period I almost lost faith in Williams

Williams did write a full end credits suite for the film. The first half is "Opening End Credit", released on the OST as "Abandoned In The Woods", and the second half is "Vocal End Credit", released a

Yeah, the Celine Dion song is pretty bad, not a fan either, although that song made Horner go rich.

 

I guess my favorite part of the score is this theme that unfortunately went unused on the movie. 

 

 

Going back to Williams and Amistad, I can't compare it with Titanic because I haven't listened to Amistad in years. But I'd love to see the opinions of other JWFanners on the subject matter.

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The song itself would be alright for what it is, it's the way it's sung that makes it hard to bear. All the Enyaish synth/choir stuff is really hard to stand, too (I'll take the Enya original any day, thank you). The score is 50% solid Horner drama/tension scoring and 50% cheap saccharine noodling. Amistad (of which I'm a big fan) isn't the kind of score I'd necessarily give specific awards to, but it's easily more worthy than Titanic.

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7 minutes ago, Thor said:

I love that 'cheap saccharine noodling'. Nobody does it better than Horner.

 

Enya does. ;) 

 

7 minutes ago, Thor said:

Hey Marian, remember our hotel meeting with Horner back in '13?

 

How could I not?

 

DSC_8619_v1.JPG

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12 minutes ago, GerateWohl said:

If you don't like THAT song, what do you think about "For Always" from A.I.?

 

I don't care about For Always either, though it's not as annoying to me as Celine's song.

 

Williams should've written an end title suite that would be better than this song. The same goes for Horner.

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For Always wasn't used in the end credits of AI. It doesn't appear in the film at all. It's just an album bonus. 

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Williams did write a full end credits suite for the film. The first half is "Opening End Credit", released on the OST as "Abandoned In The Woods", and the second half is "Vocal End Credit", released as "Where Dreams Are Born" 

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30 minutes ago, Edmilson said:

 

I don't care about For Always either, though it's not as annoying to me as Celine's song.

 

Williams should've written an end title suite that would be better than this song. The same goes for Horner.

For Always does not work as a song. The melody might be ok played by any instrument, but not sung by a voice with these awful lyrics. I mean, doesn't there exist a style guide that forbids the usage of the word "eternity" in song lyrics? That is what I appreciate about "My Heart will go on". You might not like it, but this is a song. It is musicaly simple enough with a melody supposed to be sung by a human voice. 

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6 hours ago, Thor said:

 

Definitely not. I think AMISTAD is a wonderful score (especially on album), and I think the film is vastly underrated. Probably seen it some 7-8 times. But TITANIC is a bonafide masterpiece - both film and score - and deserved every award it got.

 

Hosting the concert here in Oslo that played the theme (with choir) was a privilege, even if it took place while everyone else was in Vienna to see the man himself live.

 

Whoa, I'm finding myself largely agreeing with a Thor post! :lol: Although I haven't seen Amistad, I do really like the score, particularly "Dry Your Tears, Afrika". But Titanic...I wouldn't necessarily describe it as a masterpiece, but I do find it incredibly moving (both score and film) and it has a tendency to linger in my soul for a while after listening or watching. It's overplayed, overblown, overstuffed, and oversynthed, and I love it.

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3 hours ago, Edmilson said:

To be honest, My Heart Will Go On is not even the worst song based on a Horner score.

 

Josh Groban's song for the end titles of Troy is an abomination.

I agree. There is also this... song from Mask of Zorro. Even worse. In the 90s (I am not sure if it started with The Crow) it was quite common to have a title song for a movie written and performed by a famous pop group. The song was promoted as the title song, but it only appeared at the beginning of the end credits. I think of U2 and Smashing Pumkins for Joel Schumaker's Batman movies or The Cure for Judge Dredd. Titanic seems to have motivated film composers to write these "title songs" themselves based on one of their main themes. Not a good idea to my mind.

Hard  to say what role Alan Menken played in all of this, because he proved that a good songwriter can also write successful film scores based on his songs.

1 hour ago, Datameister said:

 

Whoa, I'm finding myself largely agreeing with a Thor post! :lol: Although I haven't seen Amistad, I do really like the score, particularly "Dry Your Tears, Afrika". But Titanic...I wouldn't necessarily describe it as a masterpiece, but I do find it incredibly moving (both score and film) and it has a tendency to linger in my soul for a while after listening or watching. It's overplayed, overblown, overstuffed, and oversynthed, and I love it.

My problem with "Dry your tears, Africa" is not with the actually beautiful music. The lyrics are related to the story told in the film about that small group of african slaves getting freed a little bit over the top. The little success is not necessarily reason enough to stop crying. But it might be a misinterpretation by me.

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I never listen to any of the songs on Horner soundtracks except....MIGHTY JOE YOUNG.." Tree Song" is incredible!

Maybe his finest achievement.

On 2/5/2008 at 9:33 AM, Ollie said:

bowdown

He be crazy!

On 2/5/2008 at 12:49 PM, Hellgi said:

Wow... man... Amistad better than E.T. and Jaws??? That's pretty far-fetched.

But it's not " better" than ALWAYS. Spielberg's MASTER piece.

 

😎

10 hours ago, Thor said:

 

Sorry to hear it. Goes to show how different we are, I suppose.

 

As I've said elsewhere, my "drought" period is from 2008 onwards.

Except for the brilliant WAR HORSE...yeah.

You don't like WH?😳

8 hours ago, Edmilson said:

Yeah, the Celine Dion song is pretty bad, not a fan either, although that song made Horner go rich.

 

I guess my favorite part of the score is this theme that unfortunately went unused on the movie. 

 

 

Going back to Williams and Amistad, I can't compare it with Titanic because I haven't listened to Amistad in years. But I'd love to see the opinions of other JWFanners on the subject matter.

Unused? The specific cue perhaps.

But, aren't themes contained within

all present in other cues, aren't they?

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5 minutes ago, Edmilson said:

 

Nope. Every cue that used this theme went unused in the final cut of the movie, which is a shame, it's a very touching theme.

Wow!

So, the themes appear on more than one track on the album; but NOT in the actual film.

?

Well, at least we have it on CD.

Like the " Ballroom dance" from WOE.

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I have to admit that, much though I enjoy Dry Your Tears, Afrika, it's not Williams' most effective incorporation of ethnic elements to one of his scores. It always felt like African gestures added on top of standard Williams rather than a more organic mixture of styles, not nearly as effective as, say Rosewood, Memoirs of a Geisha or Far & Away, for example. I'm sure it's heretical but, having become reacquainted with The Power of One recently, I think Hans Zimmer could have contributed a pretty effective score to (at least parts of) Amistad.

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33 minutes ago, Tom Guernsey said:

I have to admit that, much though I enjoy Dry Your Tears, Afrika, it's not Williams' most effective incorporation of ethnic elements to one of his scores. It always felt like African gestures added on top of standard Williams rather than a more organic mixture of styles, not nearly as effective as, say Rosewood, Memoirs of a Geisha or Far & Away, for example.

 

Quite possible, but it's still a good Williams theme, gets some wonderful variations (Middle Passage!), plus there's Cinque's theme and all the Americana stuff.

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“Long Road to Justice” is too seldom brought up.  It stands as proud equal to the concert pieces from Ryan and Lincoln in my book.  It makes a wonderful companion to the trumpet version of “With Malice Toward None.”

 

I love Amistad and eagerly await its inevitable LLL release

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9 minutes ago, Marian Schedenig said:

 

Quite possible, but it's still a good Williams theme, gets some wonderful variations (Middle Passage!), plus there's Cinque's theme and all the Americana stuff.

 

Oh absolutely, it's a good score but I guess it's quite a talky film so in common with some of the other posters, I find some of it a bit on the slow side, lovely though it is. However, I will definitely be getting it out for another listen soon!

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4 hours ago, Tom Guernsey said:

I have to admit that, much though I enjoy Dry Your Tears, Afrika, it's not Williams' most effective incorporation of ethnic elements to one of his scores. It always felt like African gestures added on top of standard Williams rather ....I'm sure it's heretical but, having become reacquainted with The Power of One recently, I think Hans Zimmer could have contributed a pretty effective score to (at least parts of) Amistad.

Not " heretical" at all! African flavored music music in his DNA.

It's one of his areas of musical expertise.

JW is not a specialist in ' world music's, so it's no disgrace if he falls short in that area. I've often felt that Goldsmith ' ethnic' cores fall short also.

 

 

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2 hours ago, bruce marshall said:

Not " heretical" at all! African flavored music music in his DNA.

It's one of his areas of musical expertise.

JW is not a specialist in ' world music's, so it's no disgrace if he falls short in that area. I've often felt that Goldsmith ' ethnic' cores fall short also.

 

 

Zimmer definitely has a great affinity for African music. I think Jerry did some pretty good ethnomusicology in his time, although I think he had a better feel for Chinese/Japanese sounds than African. Both The Ghost and the Darkness and Congo both feel a tad clunky, good though they are, not a patch on Mulan for example. I’m sure it’s not more authentic but the integration is better to my ears.

 

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On 10/3/2020 at 6:01 PM, King Mark said:

for me the time between Jurassic Park and Phantom Menace was like a walk through the desert

 For me too!! 

On 10/3/2020 at 5:58 PM, Thor said:

 

It's my favourite period of Williams ever (although I would include the first four years as well). EVERYTHING he did in the 90s is pure gold. The one I like the least is SABRINA, but even that is wonderful.

 

Really? I just watched Sabrina and was surprised how good it was, more timeless that I remembered. Funny that I basically disagree everything you say. 

 

 

 

As for Amistad, it is what it is, decent with the film, shouldn't be performed live that song I mean. 

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On 10/3/2020 at 7:30 AM, crumbs said:

I feel like this score doesn't get enough love. Hopefully it will be re-evaluated once Mike has the chance to expand it; the OST leaves a lot to be desired (and is vastly incomplete). With only a handful of non-Disney, pre-2005 Spielberg/Williams scores left, I'm hopeful they can tackle it soon.

Brian Martell and I give this score a lot of love on The Baton. Here's the link to it if you haven't heard the episode. We play music only heard on the original CD release, though I agree there is a lot of good music left off.

;

 

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Ah yes, this was the height of JW's "reprise" era, putting the main theme at the beginning and end of the OST.  So annoying!  I know it probably made for a better "listening experience" but in my mind it prevented more music from appearing on the OSTs.

 

-1993 Schindler's List

-1997 SYIT

-1997 Amistad

-1998 SPR

-1999 Angela's Ashes

-2000 The Patriot

-2002 CMIYC

-2005 Geisha

 

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Despite the "(Reprise)" titling, the first track on the Schindler's List OST is a film cue (20M4 Placing The Stones) while the final track is a cue recorded for the end credits.  But yea, absolutely fits in spirit.

 

All the middle ones you mentioned he literally put the same recording on the album twice, once at the beginning and once at the end.  Same with Witches of Eastwick, too. 

 

Or going back to 70s, the Star Wars and Superman LPs began and ended with the main title cue segueing into the end title cue in the first track, and the final cue of the film segueing into the end title cue again in the last track.  1941 had an edit of the end credits to open the album, and the full end credits to end the album - Raiders did this the other way around.

 

Also don't forget Rosewood from 1997.  Minority Report is the same also - the opening track "Minority Report" is the full end credits; the closing track "A New Beginning" is the second half of the same end credits recording, with a loop added.

 

CMIYC and Geisha are not actually the same music appearing twice on the CD, luckily.

 

It's a practice I truly don't like at all.  Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan especially to me are just ruined by hearing those "big" cues up front instead of at the end.

 

I must prefer a natural build and build and build to get to the payoffs.  Not just unleashing them to start.

 

EDIT: He did it on HOME ALONE, too; "Somewhere In My Memory" is the End Credits recording with a new intro

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I obviously disagree completely (there's no surprise). I love this aspect of Williams' album presentations. They are great overtures that take me directly into the musical universe I'm about to explore.

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Sometimes it works , like in MR.

Morricone did the same thing with UNTOUCHABLES but I program it to start with " Main Titles"

OUTIW works much better with the non- chrono LP opening.

57 minutes ago, ATXHusker said:

Ah yes, this was the height of JW's "reprise" era, putting the main theme at the beginning and end of the OST.  So annoying!  I know it probably made for a better "listening experience" but in my mind it prevented more music from appearing on the OSTs.

 

-1993 Schindler's List

-1997 SYIT

-1997 Amistad

-1998 SPR

-1999 Angela's Ashes

-2000 The Patriot

-2002 CMIYC

-2005 Geisha

 

JFK

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53 minutes ago, ATXHusker said:


Well it says reprise on the last track but it’s different length than the prologue 

 

They both contain the same end credits xue, the opening track just has the main title attached first

 

https://www.jwfan.com/forums/index.php?/topic/32176-john-williams-oliver-stone-scores-wont-be-sold-as-a-box-set/&tab=comments#comment-1720731

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