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Music Review: Various Artists – 100 Great Film Themes — Take 2

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Ever since sound has graced cinema, it has become an important aspect of movies as we know them. The themes and motifs brought to life by the composers and performers are an integral part of the film, signaling characters and key moments in movies.

It's hard to imagine film, particularly commercial blockbusters, these days without the important part of sound — and more importantly, themes and music. In fact, the modern-day blockbuster came about thanks to such themes and motifs. Jaws, Star Wars, ET, 007, et al., are just a few examples.

Silva Screen's collection of 6 CDs comprises of some of the best of such themes that span a period of 70 years. That's a lot of music from cinema. Just reading the track list gives you a retrospective look at modern cinema itself. From blockbusters, film noir, science fiction, fantasy, comedy and musicals — these are 100 tracks that define cinema as we know it.

We have some of the best — if not finest — musical scores ever to grace the silver screen. In fact, if you even look at just the composers mentioned on the cover, it'll give you some perspective on how broad and yet concise this collection is. All the heavyweights are there; namely, Alan Silvestri, Hans Zimmer, Jerry Goldsmith, James Horner, and John Williams of course. Also there are lesser known, yet equally popular composers, such as Mark Isham, Basil Poledouris, and Michael Kamen.

The album does miss out on quite a few notable tracks, most notably Also Sprach Zarathustra (the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey) by Richard Strauss, The Back to The Future score by Alan Silvestri, "The Star Trek Motion Picture Theme" by Jerry Goldsmith, "Pretty Woman" (Pretty Woman) by Roy Orbison, The Day The Earth Stood Still Theme by Bernard Herrmann, Gladiator Score by Hans Zimmer or the Indiana Jones Theme by John Williams. And I'm pretty sure there are more of them, though to be fair, most of the themes I've mentioned are science fiction themes and the collection is fair and balanced with every genre across a period of 70 years.

There's also something else that I noticed, as the collection progressed, the scale of music, the atmosphere it creates, slowly decreases over a period of time. For example, take the Imperial March theme. Just listening to it makes you imagine Darth Vader storming after you. Compare that to "War" (Avatar) and you'll hear what I'm talking about. The modern score fails to attach itself to movies, to characters, to create that atmosphere whereby the viewer/listener can let go of themselves in the movie. The most notable exceptions of modern scores are from the film noir genre, which lend themselves tremendously to their visual counterparts of storytelling. Examples would be the chilling scores of Moon, 28 Days Later, and Sunshine

Finally, is it all worth it? I would have to say, definitely yes. It might miss out on some scores and themes, but the collection that it does present is most certainly worth the buy.

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About Khaver Siddiqi

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz Alan Kurtz

    Roy Orbinson? My kingdom for a proofreader!

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/khaver-siddiqi/ Khaver Siddiqi

    Yikes! Thanks for that!

  • Rick

    “The album does miss out on quite a few notable tracks, most notably Also Sprach Zarathustra (the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey) by Richard Strauss, The Back to The Future score by Alan Silvestri, “The Star Trek Motion Picture Theme” by Jerry Goldsmith, “Pretty Woman” (Pretty Woman) by Roy Orbison, The Day The Earth Stood Still Theme by Bernard Herrmann, Gladiator Score by Hans Zimmer or the Indiana Jones Theme by John William@

    – Most of these are on the first volume!