Release date (US): January 28th, generic 2013
Running time: 58:54 minutes
Composer: John Williams
John Williams is a composer who needs no introduction. His reputation as one of the most admired and in demand film composers precedes him and over the years we’ve come to recognise what it is about his compositions that moves us so. Invariably, it’s his ability to make us feel a certain emotion at any given moment during a film, as well as his gift for creating these unforgettable signature themes we hear and instantly recall the films.
This is undoubtedly true when we think of Jaws (1975), Star Wars (1977), Superman (1978), Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981), E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Schindler’s List (1993), and Jurassic Park (1994), just to name as a few of the many films which he’s scored, and which also incidentally rank high on the list of films loved throughout the movie-going world.
His latest score sees him teaming up once again with Steven Spielberg, this time for a film about the 16th President of the United States. Lincoln is a historical epic, and fittingly, its music needed to be scored by a master craftsman.
Opening with The People’s House, a piece which begins quietly with woodwind instruments and then builds to a grand introduction; we know we’re in John Williams territory in those first few minutes. We get a sense that what we’re about to experience should be regarded and treated with deep respect. From there it takes us to The Purpose of the Amendment, continuing that feeling of reverence as the orchestra lifts and builds gently, giving way toward the end, only to pull on our emotions in the final minutes in the way William’s pieces usually do.
It’s a change of pace with Getting Out The Vote, a lively 19th century inspired track. It’s a bit giddy; departing from the sobriety of the first two pieces. The fifth track, The Blue and Grey is what really made me fall in love here. For those who think Williams’ scores are just orchestral pieces that all sound very similar, they’ve never really taken the time to listen to pieces like this where he displays his versatility in a way that’s very much reminiscent to some of the masters of music history. The piece is played on piano, stripped of all the obvious grandeur we know from the past themes, it’s only halfway through that the other instruments enter, and even then it’s a sombre and yet cinematic moment on the soundtrack.
With Call to Muster And Battle Cry Of Freedom we get a taste of the battle with the military drums and marching band as the Chicago Symphony Chorus lend their voices to create a feeling of anticipation and instil within us the idea that change is about to come. The Southern Delegation And The Dream brings a lot of atmosphere; a tense and eerie feeling of what awaits. A string arrangement is also used here to convey this.
1. The People’s House
2. The Purpose of the Amendment
3. Getting Out the Vote
4. The American Process
5. The Blue and Grey
6. “With Malice Toward None”
7. Call to Muster and Battle Cry Of Freedom
8. The Southern Delegation and the Dream
9. Father and Son
10. The Race to the House
11. Equality Under the Law
12. Freedom’s Call
14. Remembering Willie
15. Appomattox, April 9, 1865
16. The Peterson House and Finale
17. “With Malice Toward None” Piano Solo
The Race To The House is another track that has a strong 19th century feel to it, but it’s much more uplifting than what we heard before and very robust. Instruments such as the fiddle and mandolin are used to create something you could easily dance along to, whiskey in hand and pipe in mouth, of course. Freedom’s Call was also a piece I enjoyed, it’s a rousing track from which we can hear the lush string arrangements, something I never get tired of listening to and something that Williams has always done so well throughout his illustrious career.
Making our way toward the end there’s The Peterson House And Finale, a symphonic piece with beautifully orchestrated harmonies that moves and entertains at the same time, but it’s the closing number, “With Malice Toward None” Piano Solo that took my breath away on this soundtrack. As much as I loved The Blue and Grey, it’s this one that really stands out, although they are deceptively similar. It’s on this you can hear how Williams’ style has matured over the years; the melodies are far more complex and the layers much denser, while Lincoln seems like a simpler affair from the outset due to the time period it’s set in.
What I felt was missing on this soundtrack was perhaps the very thing I’d become so used to in my favourite selections of his work – that one grand theme that would make me recall the film. It’s not to be found here, at least not in any obvious ways and if you listen close enough you will hear there are signature themes peppered throughout the collection. It’s a much stronger score than War Horse (2011) and The Adventures of Tintin and I’m sure it will sit well in many fans’ collections, along with their favourites, just as it will in mine.
The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is a composer and music producer with a philosophy degree. Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and World Cinema, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.
You can find his music on Soundcloud .