John Williams

Saving Private Ryan [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]

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Saving Private Ryan was an unexpected masterstroke from Steven Spielberg -- a powerful, brutal film that didn't flinch in depicting the violence in World War II, managing to be an anti-war film that was also pro-war. Even though it contained a dose of Spielberg's traditional sentimentality, it remained a complex, layered film marred by only one thing -- John Williams' unexpectedly ineffective and inappropriate score. True, Williams had less room in the film than usual -- many scenes, particularly the battle sequences, were designed to play without music -- but when he did have the opportunity to underscore the action, he overplayed his cards, which had the effect of adding sentiment where it was unnecessary. Furthermore, Williams' score doesn't contain any memorable themes. It was written to provide emotional color -- regardless of whether that color was appropriate or not -- which means it's not particularly engaging on its own. And that makes for a real oddity -- the soundtrack to one of the most emotionally wrenching films of the late '90s is curiously bloodless and unengaging.

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