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The Book Thief (2013) - New Williams film score!

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it's hard to take the lastest review seriously after looking at some of Mr. Southhall's other reviews, He's fast with praise for some of the really weak scores that John has created and gives ridiculously low ratings to his masterpieces. I definitely give little credibility to his reviews.

He used to be better and wittier. His latest reviews are rushed and kind of... I don't know... impersonal?

Karol

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it's hard to take the lastest review seriously after looking at some of Mr. Southhall's other reviews, He's fast with praise for some of the really weak scores that John has created and gives ridiculously low ratings to his masterpieces. I definitely give little credibility to his reviews.

He used to be better and wittier. His latest reviews are rushed and kind of... I don't know... impersonal?

Karol

Yes I have been detecting the same feeling for a while now.

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I enjoyed your review, Mikko. The score has been growing on me. I agree that similarities to previous soundtracks, especially Stepmom and Angela's Ashes, are mostly superficial. After 5+ listenings The Book Thief sounds quite distinctive to me. Charming and elegant. By any means a masterpiece and not as sophisticated as the scores form the 90s, but nevertheless a very pleasant entry in composer's portfolio.

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Some more random thoughts after listening to half the score...

I think the 30 sec clips show the score in a much better light than the actual tracks.... the "snow fight" is a good example... 1 minute long, seriously??

String writing is very, very similar to Angelas Ashes... contary motion back and foward in steps...

IMHO mixing is artificial and not realistic in the "Snow Fight" cue... What was Shawn Murphy thinking?.. scrap the reverb all together and let the players and scoring stage speak!!

Book burning sounds like something JW could write in half an hour. Some of it is the same chord that was in Minority report has e.g. pulsing cluster dischords.

The main theme is good IMHO but could still do with more variations and development.

Maybe he didn't find the film that inspiring to write for?

Even the key change at 2:30 on track 22 just sounds like a composer who's running out of ideas.

Sorry about the negative post but I want to be honest.....when there is so little great film scores being produced thesedays. I realise that because of the film topic the music might take the backseat.

Now I'm off to listening to some of Klaus Badelt......

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First I would like to say that this score is amazing. Mr. Williams wrote a beautiful score for this movie.

But I don't know if anyone noticed anything wrong with the article, but Mikko wrote, but also for the fact that it is the first non-Steven Spielberg project he has composed for since 2005. Did he forget that Mr. Williams wrote the music for War Horse (2011) and Lincoln (2012)? Anyone have a comment on this?

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As far as my experience is what Desplat, it is that he usually writes mono-thematic scores. Or maybe with 2 themes at best. And I found his skill as a crafter of melodies middling at best.

So in that regard Book Thief is far from a Desplat score, the themes are many and many are strong. The main theme has grown on me. It is quite distinct.

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For sure Williams can compose better than Desplat, but that doens't change the overall impression


I just saw a commercial for The Book Thief.

They're using orchestral music, but not JW's score.. something more bombastic

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Now I'm off to listening to some of Klaus Badelt......

ROTFLMAO A good one. (Y)

Great score, that.

Bit off topic.... but I wasn't feeling too well earlier in the week and just listening to that cheered me up; well, that and some JW of course ;) .... and Alan Silvestri. Badelt is a seriously gifted and underrated composer and the fact that he is mainly scoring foreign films further illustrates that Hollywood is turning away from memorable thematic scores. It's a shame that either they can't see the value in memorability or are so in control of the picture that they don't want music to interfere. Either way, we all know what happens to unmemorable scoring..... it won't stand the test of time.

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Interesting that Williams used French horn only brass section for this one.

Karol

Good, intimate choice.

I've been listening to this whole week daily and now will rank it higher than WarHorse and Lincoln, which both I do love. Even if

Lincoln had brilliant trumpet solos (an instant love by me as a trumpet player).

Also posting to keep this alive, Hobbit thread has 271 pages. Cool.

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Never warmed up to Lincoln. It's too... hagiographic for my tastes and doesn't offer much shading. It has a few good tracks, though.

The Book Thief is a total opposite. Subtle work, really.

Karol

I have warmed up to Lincoln over past months more than I initially expected. I listen to it quite a lot these days.

As for The Book Thief, it took me 2 or 3 times to dig into that score, but I must say every time I listen to it now I find it more satisfying. While most people seem to focus on its (often superficial) resemblance to Angela's Ashes or Stepmom and call it boring or uninspired, I concentrate more on what's new and unique about it. After all it's full of highlights (One Small Fact, New Parents and a New Home, Learning to Read, Visitor at Himmel St. and Finale to name a few). By no means I find it boring - it moves me a lot and I believe JW put his heart into it (even more than his mind, given it's not the most musically original of his works).

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Bit off topic.... but I wasn't feeling too well earlier in the week and just listening to that cheered me up; well, that and some JW of course ;) .... and Alan Silvestri. Badelt is a seriously gifted and underrated composer and the fact that he is mainly scoring foreign films further illustrates that Hollywood is turning away from memorable thematic scores. It's a shame that either they can't see the value in memorability or are so in control of the picture that they don't want music to interfere. Either way, we all know what happens to unmemorable scoring..... it won't stand the test of time.

I figured he works exclusively in Europe because Pirates blew his name up, and then ZImmer came out and took the credit. They must have had some sort of falling out/every Hollywood studio would have just wanted him to copy Zimmer's sound, so he removed himself from the system. He's probably the best example of a Zimmer apprentice showcasing his own voice. It's just most of the others never get a chance to.

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Never warmed up to Lincoln. It's too... hagiographic for my tastes and doesn't offer much shading. It has a few good tracks, though.

The Book Thief is a total opposite. Subtle work, really.

Karol

I have warmed up to Lincoln over past months more than I initially expected. I listen to it quite a lot these days.

As for The Book Thief, it took me 2 or 3 times to dig into that score, but I must say every time I listen to it now I find it more satisfying. While most people seem to focus on its (often superficial) resemblance to Angela's Ashes or Stepmom and call it boring or uninspired, I concentrate more on what's new and unique about it. After all it's full of highlights (One Small Fact, New Parents and a New Home, Learning to Read, Visitor at Himmel St. and Finale to name a few). By no means I find it boring - it moves me a lot and I believe JW put his heart into it (even more than his mind, given it's not the most musically original of his works).

To be perfectly honest, TBT is not any more original/unoriginal than Harry Potter, The Terminal, Indiana Jones 4, Lincoln, War Horse or The Adventures of Tintin. As Jeff Bond pointed out on FSM forum "what is a music by John Williams that we never heard?". His skill lies not so much in freshness and originality, but in superb skill and craftsmanship that is still unmatched in this business. Was he ever an innovator and a knight of avant garde in film music? Criticising Williams for being conservative seems rather... pointless.

As I said in the other thread, I can understand why some (or even most) people find it underwhelming, but this is exactly the type of music I wanted from him. But, at the same time, it's kind of sad people seem to be losing interest.

Karol

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The piano solo that begins at 54 seconds in the Finale and lasts through the end is one of the loveliest things Williams has written in some years. It is so gorgeous and so aching. It is the work of a very mature artist, the kind of music you really don't hear in movies these days.

I would say it is probably my second favorite score of the year after The Wind Rises which I think is a masterpiece level score by Hisashi.

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I must say for now, the album structure is a bit off-putting. Too many short tracks that don't have much flow from one to the other. Usually Williams is very good at taking the time to link cues together into longer tracks, plus write and record additional material not needed for the film to enhance the album experience, but I don't think he had the time to do so in this case, and I think it shows.

Exactly, I don't think he had the time to do make a proper album-presentation. And I don't think the movie had a budget big enough for any album-suites.

Actually I think we're lucky having so much extra stuff in our Williams albums. That's one of the advantages of scoring a Steven Spielberg production.

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Usually Williams is very good at taking the time to link cues together into longer tracks, plus write and record additional material not needed for the film to enhance the album experience, but I don't think he had the time to do so in this case, and I think it shows

Very good point.

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The piano solo that begins at 54 seconds in the Finale and lasts through the end is one of the loveliest things Williams has written in some years. It is so gorgeous and so aching. It is the work of a very mature artist, the kind of music you really don't hear in movies these days.

(Y)

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Usually Williams is very good at taking the time to link cues together into longer tracks, plus write and record additional material not needed for the film to enhance the album experience, but I don't think he had the time to do so in this case, and I think it shows

Very good point.

He might hear expanded concert versions one of his concerts. He's expanded many themes in the past few years .The Lincoln ones are awesome

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Just listened to the score once through. My first impressions are that the score is lovely, well written and performed, but not terribly lasting. I don't anticipate listening to this score often or with any serious frequency. It'll be something I put on every few years perhaps. By comparison, and of his more recent output, War Horse and The Adventures of Tintin made an immediate impact and I listened to them continuously.

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The direct correlation between the number of people calling any given score "a very mature work" and my personal "Meh-Factor" for the given score is astounding.

I can only imagine myself listening to The Book Thief repeatedly in the cases of feeling lonely or slightly depressed. I listened to War Horse the other day again, which is another level for me.

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Let's hope you get depressed very soon then. ;)

But don't worry, most people don't like it. This place is becoming HSFan these days and Williams is passé already, it would seem...

Karol - who gave it another spin earlier today.

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The direct correlation between the number of people calling any given score "a very mature work" and my personal "Meh-Factor" for the given score is astounding.

Because you are so young. Meh.

But don't worry, most people don't like it. This place is becoming HSFan these days and Williams is passé already, it would seem...

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Let's hope you get depressed very soon then. ;)

But don't worry, most people don't like it. This place is becoming HSFan these days and Williams is passé already, it would seem...

Karol - who gave it another spin earlier today.

I never said I didn't like it. It's lovely. But, like others pointed out, it's somewhat forgettable in a Desplat sort of way.

The direct correlation between the number of people calling any given score "a very mature work" and my personal "Meh-Factor" for the given score is astounding.

Because you are so young. Meh.

Young? I'm a year shy of reaching the big 3.

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Let's hope you get depressed very soon then. ;)

But don't worry, most people don't like it. This place is becoming HSFan these days and Williams is passé already, it would seem...

Karol - who gave it another spin earlier today.

Don't worry Karol. There will always be few of us easily duped JW fans here who fall for this kind of regurgitated material from the Maestro. ;)

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Desplat is too derivative of Philip Glass for my liking.

I'd say Desplat has a more interesting take on this sort of stuff. Especially in some stuff from The Painted Veil. Amazing stuff.

Glass is not that rewarding to explore in the long run, I found. A prisoner of his own style almost. But I do give him credit - he's a signature composer, for better or worse. I do like some of his stuff.

He is. I don't understand the negative comparisons. Stuff like Fantastic Mr. Fox and The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button are miles ahead of this.

I'm not sure if better. Apart from some superficial similarities Desplat and Williams are apples and oranges to me. And yes, these scores are both great.

Karol

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The direct correlation between the number of people calling any given score "a very mature work" and my personal "Meh-Factor" for the given score is astounding.

Yeah I can relate to that. It seems the more mature a Williams score is described to be, the less interesting I find it.

Exactly, I don't think he had the time to do make a proper album-presentation. And I don't think the movie had a budget big enough for any album-suites.

Actually I think we're lucky having so much extra stuff in our Williams albums. That's one of the advantages of scoring a Steven Spielberg production.

What about the final track? Granted, it's probably for the end credits, but it's still a suite. And surely recording some album pieces is just the same as the score being 10 minutes longer.

I think it's more likely that Williams just didn't have the time. Maybe he also didn't feel as strongly that this score needed 'arranging'.

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Desplat is too derivative of Philip Glass for my liking.

I'd say Desplat has a more interesting take on this sort of stuff. Especially in some stuff from The Painted Veil. Amazing stuff.

Glass is not that rewarding to explore in the long run, I found. A prisoner of his own style almost. But I do give him credit - he's a signature composer, for better or worse. I do like some of his stuff.

Desplat, as obviously skilled as he is, often leaves me kind of cold. But The Painted Veil is very much one of the exceptions to that. Zero Dark Thirty was also engaging.

And not to go too far off track, but have you tried Glass' symphonies? There's much more to him than his most well known 70's phase would suggest. Particularly in his most recent ones.

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And not to go too far off track, but have you tried Glass' symphonies? There's much more to him than his most well known 70's phase would suggest. Particularly in his most recent ones.

I've tried his symphonies, even went to the premier of his latest one at the BBC Proms this summer (only because it was on the program with pieces by Frank Zappa and Conlon Noncarrow) - but they all utterly bore me. Glass's form and technique works best for opera and the human voice, but in the context of a symphony his anaemic orchestration and come sopra abuse is exposed in the raw.

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Well said, GreyPilgrim. I just picked up Deathly Hallows Part I second-hand after giving it a second chance on Spotify, and while I enjoy it, I know exactly what you mean about being left cold. DH1 is a cold, menacing film for much of its duration, and Desplat captures that perfectly, so it works. I've also got Rise of the Guardians, which is uncharacteristically melodic for him, but even so, has a little of the Desplat chill. Other than that, I could only pony up for a couple of pleasant tracks from The King's Speech, Mr. Fox, and DH2. As someone pointed out higher up on this thread, he's so melodically weak (again, most of the time) that he rarely rises above atmosphere to really engage the emotions.

I'm sure people have counter-examples, and I've never heard Girl With a Pearl Earring, but that's my two cents.

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Girl with a Pearl Earring is a lovely, small score, in character perhaps not that different from Book Thief :) There are no big setpieces and immediately iconic cues, but lots of intricate, well crafted passages for small ensembles or solo instruments (the most memorable and touching for me being the cello and flute duo of Griet's theme, which is the antithesis of "melodically weak").

But don't worry, most people don't like it. This place is becoming HSFan these days and Williams is passé already, it would seem...

Karol - who gave it another spin earlier today.

For a score like The Book Thief It's hard to compete with The Hobbit on matters of epicness and awe, which mostly dominate the general perception ;)

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