killing time

Killing Time: December 4, 2014 “What’s Happened to Movie Scores?”

I’m behind.  I know I’m behind.  Granted, I have an excellent reason, but columns haven’t been regular and I’ve got reviews that are back-logged and need to go up.  I have days when I’m able to function, but a great deal of the time I’m still in a very difficult place.  I am, though, making an effort to get KT rolling back on schedule.  My current headquarters is in the Great Lakes region so I’m going to have to ski my way to some of these winter movies, but I’m going to do my best to keep things up to standard.

That being said, I have a question: has there been a really good movie score in all of 2014?  Movie music is a passion of mine and I pay particular attention to it when I view films and, even in films I’ve loved, the scores have been average.  If I had to do our Renaissance Film Awards today, I don’t know how I’d come up with five scores to nominate.  If I’ve missed one, or if you have one to make a case for, by all means do, but in the weakest film year I’ve ever experienced, there also has been a drought of strong film music.

The movie doesn’t have to be good for it to have a good score.  Some of the worst movies I’ve seen have had gorgeous scores.  Take two pirate films: Cutthroat Island by John Debney and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End by Hans Zimmer.  Awful movies.  Movies I’d score 1.0 or less, but behind the bad film was an amazing and gorgeous musical framework.

The greatest moments in cinematic history have music worthy of them.  Can you imagine Elliot and ET biking through the sky without John Williams’ iconic score accompanying them?  The director usually has a working relationship with a composer or chooses the one used for the film.  This year, established director/composer pairings have fallen short.  I would point to Interstellar’s planetarium music score by Hans Zimmer, who has partnered with Christopher Nolan for some of the best scores in recent years, but Nolan wouldn’t let him see the script.  The composer needs to be as involved with the film as anyone else in post-production.  They need to work side-by-side with the director.  That’s how you get pairings like Spielberg and Williams; Nolan and Zimmer; Alfred Hitchcock and Bernard Herrmann; etc.

3 thoughts on “Killing Time: December 4, 2014 “What’s Happened to Movie Scores?””

  1. Interstellar had it’s moments, but yes, it wasn’t as good as his scores for the Batman trilogy (especially the Dark Knight and Dark Knight Rises.)

    I’d still say Zimmer is the man. John Williams will always be *the* man, but given his age, he’s not scoring as much as he used to. Zimmer is scoring consistently and, right now, I don’t think there’s anyone who can combine drama, emotion and even psychology into a score like him.

    And I still say Like A Dog Chasing Cars (from The Dark Knight) is a perfect example of movie music – it has all the above and more 🙂


    1. Couldn’t agree more. Forgive me for doubting the maestro, but I’m even a little worried about the Episode VII score because his last few outings have been pretty underwhelming. I blame Nolan for Interstellar’s lackluster score, not Zimmer. How are you supposed to get into the emotion of the film when you don’t even know what you’re scoring?

      Liked by 1 person

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