Collaborations between movie directors and composers often bring forth beautiful and at times magnificent things. There are many composer/director pairings that are often referred to by critics and collectors alike, Leone and Morricone, Jarre and Lean, Herrmann and Hitchcock and Rota and Fellini are prime examples but probably the most prolific, notable and familiar collaborative process has been between film maker Steven Speilberg and composer John Williams. We all remember JAWS, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, JURRASIC PARK, 1941, SHINDLERS LIST etc and their memorable scenes that were supported by a superlative John Williams score. One movie however that I for one always seem to overlook is EMPIRE OF THE SUN, and for the life of me I don’t know why, I enjoyed the movie a lot and John Williams soundtrack underlined and enhanced the images wonderfully. That is why I am pleased that La La Land records have seen fit to re-issue the soundtrack and as a double compact disc have included a lot more music than was previously released. Disc 1 containing a full presentation of the film score, including never-before-released music, whilst Disc 2 includes a selection of alternate cues and additional music.This is in my opinion one of the composers most accomplished works for film, it is brimming with themes and musical passages that are pure Williams and has sweeping strident strings that glide and meander throughout the score creating melodic and exuberant themes that are lush romantic and expansive. It also includes more than its fair share of dramatic scoring the composer bringing to the fore brass and pounding percussion to relay a nervous and tense atmosphere infusing a sense of real terror and fear into the proceedings. The choral work is also some of the composer’s best and combined with lavish and sweeping strings and triumphant sounding brass punctuated by percussion is breathtaking and highly emotive and is especially effective within track number 14 CADILLAC OF THE SKYS. The score also has to it a heartfelt, luxurious and soulful side that can be heard to a greater degree in track number 16, THE RETURN TO THE CITY, which is a combination of poignant composition, ethnic sounding passages and also a dark and ominous presence. Within the score we can hear glimpses of Williams score that were written previous to EMPIRE OF THE SUN and also it gave us an insight as to what we could expect from the composer in future assignments, but overall this is a text book John Williams work that should never be overlooked or ignored. Presented superbly by La La Land with their normal high quality booklet with informative notes courtesy of Mike Matessino which are illustrated by a collection of 19 stills from the movie. A magnificent work by the master of movie music John Williams that has been re-released in an expanded edition by one of the most prestigious film music specialist record labels. It goes without saying that this is a release that you MUST add to your collection. Strident, melodic, anthem like and above all glorious.
EMPIRE OF THE SUN.