Indiana Jones

Composer John Williams returns with another classic Indie soundtrack 

After 19 years of waiting the man with the fedora and whip is back in what has been described by some critics as the movie event of the summer.

For hardcore fans of the Indiana Jones series it's a welcome return for one of the silver screen’s greatest heroes and marks the homecoming of the Lucas/Spielberg partnership.

At the outset, Spielberg had said that he could only make another Indiana Jones movie if he had three things at hand.

John WilliamsThe first was Harrison Ford, the second artist Drew Struzan (whose paintings have appeared on every official Indiana Jones poster since the beginning) and the third was, of course, long time musical collaborator John Williams. 

For three decades Williams’s music has underscored almost every Spielberg film including the Oscar-winning Jaws and Schindler’s List. The composer's return to Indiana Jones marks his first film score in two years, and was certainly worth the wait.

The opening track, 'Raiders March', is a great new recording of the original theme. This is no modern re-invention. There is no change of orchestration. It’s the untainted original, just the way we like it - vintage Indy action. 

With Williams on form, the music keeps up well with the film's ferocious pace. 'The Call of the Crystal' is perhaps the most important cue on the soundtrack in terms of tone, a dark orchestration which attempts to embody the central subject of the film. 

There are nods to film-noir here, very much in the style of Jerry Goldsmith’s masterpiece Basic Instinct. Finally the track opens out into a lush string passage reminiscent of much of the Nazi music on Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

This soundtrack, however, utilises new themes including 'Irina’s Theme', first played by muted horns and cor anglais - a strong theme for Cate Blanchett’s character, tinted with melancholy.

Complimenting the brooding, dark music is the more light-hearted element to the Indy films, of which in Cate Blanchettthe past Williams's music has played a huge factor. 'The Adventures of Mutt' is a vibrant homage to the Golden Age classics of Korngold and the era of Errol Flynn.

In the film itself, Shia LaBeouf’s performance as Jones’s sidekick is believable and both share an onscreen presence which Williams has reacted to strongly on the soundtrack. He offers up some of the most exciting music in the movie in relation to LaBeouf, full of energy with some great brass and woodwind flourishes. This is matched by 'A Whirl Through Academe', which recalls Williams’s boat-chase music in Last Crusade.

Other high points are 'The Jungle Chase', deriving in part from Last Crusade’s tank-chase through the desert, as well as the rhythmically charged 'Grave Robbers' sequence. 

The end credits track, 'Finale', weaves together all the film’s main themes, and at last Williams begins to play with the 'Raider’s March', elaborately decorating it with a fantastic fanfare finish.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull delivers everything you would want from a John Williams’s soundtrack, and certainly one underscoring an Indiana Jones adventure. 

The film is a nostalgic trip back to the original films, but one with an eye to the future. Who's to say Spielberg and Williams won't be back for more?  

Graeme Stewart


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