Amistad Sneak Peek
Compiled by Lukas Kendall
We're all pretty psyched about any new John Williams score, especially
one for a Spielberg film. Here's an early look and listen at AMISTAD from
intrepid reader W. David Lichty at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I saw a trade screening of Amistad yesterday morning. The music
is really quite nice - at times powerful, at others pretty. Naturally,
Williams incorporates African rhythm and voice, and he does so as well
as this same was done by other composers in The Color Purple, Congo, and
the various Lion King projects. Actually, the vocal stuff is marvelously
worked in throughout the whole score. Often the sound of one voice is used
as if it was the featured instrument in a given orchestrated moment. At
other times, the music is straightforward Williams, circa the late '70s,
specifically the type of music used to underscore calm or pleasant moments
in the Jaws films. I forget how peaceful his music can be when things slow
down. There is plenty of this in the film.
Unfortunately, the music occasionally seems misused (or misplaced,
perhaps. This was an advance screening). Music works best in films when
it conveys a character's emotional state, or the tone of a scene or moment.
It works less well as a direct cue to the audience about how to feel about
what is taking place on screen. IMHO, of course. I fear the latter happens
a few times (the only specific I recall involves a conversation between
the abolishionists [one being M. Freeman] and John Quincy Adams [A. Hopkins]).
I cannot compare Amistad to Seven Years in Tibet, as I've not heard
that music, but an Oscar nod, while not necessarily a given, would not
be unlikely for this score.
As far as the movie goes, it's no Schindler's List, but it doesn't
seem to try to be. Schindler's List could easily be said to be about the
Holocaust itself. Amistad is not about slavery itself in that same way,
but is about the interesting circumstances surrounding this specific incident
in that area of history. The first half had some distracting elements in
it for me, such as a few slight "unveilings" (introductions)
of each of the famous actors in the film, and some rather obvious comparisons
of inept, if well-meaning white folk with the witty, human nature wise
African victims. These distractions really are pretty minor, but they are
The second half leaves these elements behind completely, letting
the Africans become more human and personal, as well as letting the whites
step up to that same level, without compromising the issues behind the
film, and it remains thoroughly engaging from that point forward. All told,
the movie as a whole is pretty darn good.
Thanks David! Some quick other news:
A few of you probably went to the record store looking for some new
Varese releases... well, L.A. Confidential (Goldsmith score album),
Man Who Knew Too Little and Mad City have been bumped to
next Tuesday, the 25th. Xena and Hercules did come out. There's
this boss photo on the back of the Xena package with the two leads
of the series together in a hot tub. (Woody Allen: "Don't forget love
between two women - my favorite.")
Finally, go to Andy's
Aisle Seat, there should be his latest column up. If not, d'oh!
That's it for today. Short but very interesting. See you tomorrow!