A to Z Challenge: R (John Williams’ film scores)

*Read John Williams’ biography here

The River
This was a 1984 drama directed by Mark Rydell. The film is based on the true story of farmers who unknowingly took on positions as strikebreakers at a steel mill after their crops were destroyed by rain. The husband and wife are played by Mel Gibson and Sissy Spacek.

The movie was nominated for an Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Original Score, losing both to A Passage to India.

The theme to this movie is far superior to the movie itself which did not do very well (I haven’t seen it, but even Mel Gibson admits he shouldn’t have been cast, ironic when you consider he fought to get the role).

The River starts with a bubbly, jaunty main theme with some beautiful soloist work from the flute. It then moves into a love theme featuring trumpets. This has a real blues feel to it. The theme finishes with an extended flute solo.

I like the music, particularly the main theme (opening) which I find to be quite happy music. When you take into account this was filmed in the early 80s it has a very contemporary feel to it. What do you think, has it held up over time?

10 comments on “A to Z Challenge: R (John Williams’ film scores)

  1. I haven’t heard of this film and I’m afraid Mel Gibson lost me when he did that drunken anti-Semitic tirade, but the music sounds good. Dear me, John Williams, one of the great film composers of all time, has been nominated umpteen times, but hardly ever won, even for his best-known scores! A. It like Richard Burton, who was nominated for a lot of Oscars, but never won during his lifetime, that I know of, though they may have felt guilty after his death and given him one then.

    • I know! It’s surprising how few awards he has received when you consider some of the music he has created.

  2. Never heard of this one, but it’s a classic John Williams theme. Mary and I have a theory that a good movie or TV show needs to have a good theme, and this is one.

    • I am in complete agreement with you and Mary on that. I think the music can make or break a movie or TV show. I have listened to movies I only thought were okay more than once, just to hear the music.

  3. The movie didn’t make much of an impression. I don’t remember it, and I was aware of movies in 1984.

  4. Haven’t seen the music but quite like the music, you’re right there’s a happy feel to it!

  5. I agree that the music sounds happy, which really puts it at odds with that picture!

    • I thought that too, Jenny. The movie looks like a tragic drama but the music…go figure!

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