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Kingdom of the Crystal Skull retrospective


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Hi everyone, first time poster here!

I'm writing an academic paper on how Williams approaches scoring gender, and using KoCS as my main case study. 

Wondering what everyone's thoughts are on how it sits within the canon of the Indy scores? Personally, I enjoy Irina's theme but its presentation of her as some femme fatale style figure seems somewhat reductive(?). Especially when compared to Dr. Schneider in Crusade! The Crystal Skull motifs are very hypnotic, but don't compare to the Ark or Grail theme. 

The variations of the theme when linked to Mutt are interesting, it seems as if the music was trying to tee him up to take over from Ford. 

And the callbacks to Marion's theme and the father/son theme were welcome additions, I think JW stuck a nice balance between nostalgia and making something new. 

Any insights, or links to Williams talking about the score would be much appreciated! :) 

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Hi ConorPower,

 

just some thoughts on your words.

I would not consider Irina a femme fatale, since it is not her aim at all to be attractive to men.

She is just a villain, by the way the first villain in an Indy movie getting its own theme. She is cool showing almost no emotion. That is reflected in her theme.

 

the Grail and the Ark themes have references religious movies from the fifties like The Ten Commandments, The Rope, King of Kings etc. The Crystal Scull motiv has its root in 1940s/50s science fiction movies like "The Day the Earth Stood still" or "This Island Earth". So, of course its tone is musically different. And it is related to the subject of the movie.

2 hours ago, ConorPower said:

I think JW stuck a nice balance between nostalgia and making something new. 

I would completely subscribe that.

 

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Thanks @GerateWohl must check out some of those religious themes from the 50s.

 

I agree that Irina isn't a femme fatale but Williams definitely sought to score her like one. I've a quote: 

 

"Cate Blanchett as Irina Spalko she presented, to me, an opportunity to create a sexy film noir – if you like – theme to accompany a femme fatale from, maybe, the movies of the 1940s where you would here a slithering saxophone and certain harmonic progressions that would depict this dark side of sensuality and power and its uses and so on. She’s very sensual. She’s very powerful. And she’s depicted musically with this theme that is  — if you like to say —  an homage to the great film villainesses of the 1940s." (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6g3EgmxWzao)

 

Her theme definitely fits this idea of a noir-style character, but I'm not sure if it acutely depicts Irina herself, who as you say "She is cool showing almost no emotion" . The theme, especially when it first appears is rather sensual and sly, but it does become more villainous during "The Jungle Chase" sequence. 

 

The way Williams talked about (to me) sounded like he wanted it to represent the power Irina could have over him.

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To me from about 1:02 to about 1:48 is a terrific example of a femme fatale moment. It’s just the perfect combination of sexy yet wary/wondering/slightly dischordant. 
 

I know Williams described Spalko and wrote her theme as such. But I feel as an audience we needed to see something along the same lines as this scene in Last Crusade. Not that she had to be a love interest for Indy per say. Buy she needed to be mystifyingly irresistible to him perhaps. But she defiantly needed to be more alluring/mysterious/appealing to the audience rather than the strange Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon that Spielberg directed Blanchette to play. I think Williams was trying to cover that up and score the character he wished was presented. 
 

The more menacing/militaristic renditions of Spalkos theme feel are better representations of this character. 

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@WampaRat ooh you're right that's a great little moment!

Agree with you 100%, if that's the route Spielberg wanted to go down we need to see some more mystery. The music just doesn't seem to fit with who she is otherwise.

The brass iterations in The Jungle Chase are the best - but all too short.

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The approach Williams took for Irina really isn't that different from Indy if you think about it: the music is bright and heroic, which are not traits you'd really give to the character, particularly in Raiders. However, the theme perfectly encapsulates the experience they (Spielberg and Williams) wanted to give to the audience, and there are multiple times where Indy personifies this feeling of adventure and heroic feats...if adventure has a name?

 

Irina?...Williams was just trying to find something to latch onto, 'cause there are practically no instances outside of the opening sequence,  as said above, where she displays any sense of seduction, nor does the film capture that tone at all. Plus, Williams found her sexy.

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4 hours ago, crumbs said:

 

He sure did! 

 

 

I think there's a longer video where he actually introduces the piece and why all those clips accompany it, but I can't find it. 

 

That concert version of the theme is SO good!

 

Always wished he would have done one for the Russian's theme as well.

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15 hours ago, Muad'Dib said:

Always wished he would have done one for the Russian's theme as well.

 

It's a very fun secondary theme for sure. Williams always pulls something out of his hat for villains in the Indy scores.

 

I'm not sure anything will ever top the Nazi march from TLC though.

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21 hours ago, Falstaft said:

I'm sure you know her work already, but in case not, check out Grace Edgar's dissertation on music & gender in action film scores. 

 

@Falstaft I'm not familiar with Edgar's work actually - so thanks so much for the recommendation. I can't seem to access her dissertation here - but will try and contact her and see if she's willing to share. 

 

Looking at the concert performances is a great idea! Thank you so much 

 

21 hours ago, crumbs said:

He sure did! 

@crumbs What a find!! Thank you so much - this will be a great help :) 

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On 5/11/2021 at 9:29 AM, Falstaft said:

 

I'm sure you know her work already, but in case not, check out Grace Edgar's dissertation on music & gender in action film scores.

 

Yes.

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