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Saving Private Ryan: Music From The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
John Williams
Saving Private Ryan: Music From The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Genres: Pop, Soundtracks
  •  Track Listings (10) - Disc #1

What appears on screen during the World War II movie Saving Private Ryan suggests that director Steven Spielberg has studied the hyperviolence of Quentin Tarantino, John Woo, and Stanley Kubrick (think Full Metal Jacket). ...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: John Williams
Title: Saving Private Ryan: Music From The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 3
Label: Dreamworks
Original Release Date: 7/21/1998
Release Date: 7/21/1998
Album Type: Soundtrack
Genres: Pop, Soundtracks
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 600445004627

Synopsis essential recording
What appears on screen during the World War II movie Saving Private Ryan suggests that director Steven Spielberg has studied the hyperviolence of Quentin Tarantino, John Woo, and Stanley Kubrick (think Full Metal Jacket). What you hear, however, assures that Spielberg still collects Norman Rockwell paintings. Composed by Spielberg's long-time musical companion, John Williams, Ryan denies the pair's penchant for ebullience in favor of funereal grace. Rather than mirror the visual kinetics, Williams lends the gunfire a tone-poem aura. Oliver Stone's Platoon makes the best comparison; remember how Barber's Adagio for Strings accompanied its most bloody moments? Williams later worked with Stone on JFK and Nixon, providing scores so somber, they qualified as morose. They remain two of his best, and Saving Private Ryan shares their restraint. --Marc Weidenbaum

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CD Reviews

Restraint rather than fireworks serves Williams well here
Alex Diaz-Granados | Miami, FL United States | 04/21/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"John Williams' score for Saving Private Ryan, Steven Spielberg's searing World War II drama about eight U.S. soldiers ordered to rescue a paratrooper whose three brothers lost their lives in combat, follows the simple-is-better-than-operatic format that made his music for 1993's Schindler's List powerful and effective.Considering that most of Williams' film scores tend to be very bombastic and energetic (his Star Wars and Indiana Jones music tends to follow the Wagner/Korngold tradition of big orchestras and action-oriented cues), it's refreshing to hear this very prolific (and much-imitated) composer use orchestral restraint where he might have been tempted to utilize strident and Sousa-like marches, as is common in most war movies, especially movies about World War II.But starting with the reverent-yet-mournful "Hymn to the Fallen" (a piece that is not heard till the End Credits, but is nevertheless an apt start to this album), Williams utilizes musical motifs to highlight the different aspects of the Normandy invasion as experienced by Capt. John Miller (Tom Hanks) and the seven GIs who have been assigned to retrieve Pvt. James Ryan (Matt Damon) from the small airhead held by the 101 Airborne Division on the Cotentin Peninsula in the days following the D-Day landings. This beautiful yet haunting piece sets the proper tone for this album, and is reprised at the end. (Careful listeners will note that this arrangement is not used in the film, however. Williams and Spielberg use a longer version of this music that also incorporates the "Omaha Beach Theme.")Besides the "Hymn to the Fallen" (a piece which has become a staple of Memorial Day concerts since 1999) there is the equally solemn "Revisiting Normandy," which serves as the film's "Main Title" and is heard as underscore to the scene in the Omaha Beach cemetery where the old WWII vet -- who will later be revealed as Damon's character's older self -- is making his way to the beautifully maintained "last resting place" of several thousand Americans who gave their lives in France in 1944. The trumpet solos by Tim Morrison and Thomas Rolfs, in addition to horn soloist Gus Sebring's performance, convey the mixture of gratitude and sadness most of us -- including director Spielberg and lead actor Hanks -- felt about the actions taken by the men who fought and suffered so much pain and death to liberate Europe from German occupation.The one motif that dominates the film's score is heard for the first time in the now famous "letters" sequence, where Williams introduces the theme labeled "Omaha Beach," starting from when Capt. Miller tells Sgt. Horvath (Tom Sizemore) that he sees "quite a view" as he looks down on the invasion fleet and the debris of the initial landings earlier that morning of June 6. It starts as a powerful yet mournful theme, and then segues to a more restrained theme-and-variations tone as the scene shifts first to the War Department in Washington, D.C. as we see the many secretaries and typists working on countless notification letters about fallen GIs. It swells to a tragic crescendo when the Army sedan pulls up to the Ryan farmhouse in rural Iowa and Mrs. Ryan gets all three telegrams informing that three of her sons have given their lives in "the altar of freedom."Even in action cues such as track 9 ("The Last Battle") Williams avoids the expected rah-rah type of overture that he is associated with for other Spielberg films. Instead, there is a sense of suspense and impending loss to the music, reminding us that Saving Private Ryan is not meant to merely entertain us for thrills and chills, but to honor the men and women of the Greatest Generations, both the survivors who came home, and those who did not.Williams conducts the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus with his usual golden touch. This is one of his most mature works and is a fitting musical tribute to the citizen soldiers who saved the world in its darkest days."
The most powerful music I've heard for a motion picture
Chek Yang Foo | Singapore | 12/27/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"After having listened to quite a bit of film music over the last decade, the singularly most moving film music I've heard for a motion picture- and not just from Williams' discography but from any film music composer- is for Saving Private Ryan. Steven Spielberg's gritty monumental film demonstrates personal honour, unmitigated courage, and selfless endeavour; and William's "Hymn To the Fallen" in this soundtrack mourn supreme sacrifice, but yet salute resolute heroism. The score here has been highly praised on the Amazon customer reviews; and I'm glad to add my vote with the other supporters here too of this magnificent music-making. I'd add however that I found not just the Hymn inspiring; but the second last track, "The Last Battle" (heard just after Captain John Miller is wounded and takes on the last Panzer tank, and lasts all the way until the modern day visitation back to the cemetery), worked equally as well. In fact, aside from the Hymn, and the "Han Solo and Princess Leia" theme from the closing moments of The Empire Strikes Back, there hasn't been another cue from any motion picture that has so powerfully brought back the emotions I felt when watching the motion picture on the big screen. I was just reading a film critic's review of this score, and William's work here was described as one where apart from the Hymn, otherwise had no recognisable theme, or suspense; ultimately leading to an slow, boring listening experience. Truth to tell, when one compares the score for Saving Private Ryan (SPR) to other Williams' works, particularly that of the Star Wars and Indiana Jones trilogies, there is indeed a marked lesser use of strong, bold themes to personify an event or a person; the Imperial March, or Yoda's theme from the Star Wars trilogy being examples of such "theme-based" music. Directors like Steven Spielberg and George Lucas may have made Williams' music a very central compliment to their motion pictures before, but the absence of this music style did not make the SPR score ultimately any less moving for me. Yes, the music is often subdued, quiet and slow. But does this make it any less effective? This score worked for me not because I could listen to it in isolation and be moved. It was, in fact, a deeply touching- almost religious- experience when listening to it because it effectively brought back vivid memories of the great emotional burden I felt when seeing the countless brave young men make the ultimate sacrifice for their country during the war. And that for myself, is the very purpose of film music; to make me recall, and to feel again the passion of a motion picture. For myself, the most powerful film score I've ever heard."
Saving Private Ryan...A John William's classic!
Joseph Payne | 05/15/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Saving Private Ryan. Written in July 1998, Saving Private Ryan is known as one of more peaceful scores of John Williams. Much different then much of the music that John Williams has written, this score depicts the beaches of Omaha well. The main score of the soundtrack, "Hymn to the Fallen", is a piece that starts with quiet drums of war in the background, before the Tanglewood choir joins the music, making it a track that makes you want to think back at the beaches at Normandy, and all the fallen men. (I won't blame you if you cry while listening to this one!) Very little of the music on Saving Private Ryan is tense. Most of the other tracks have the main theme mixed into them. You wouldn't think that a war movie such as Saving Private Ryan would have a peaceful soundtrack, while most World War II movies have very tense soundtracks. This score is probably what brings the movie out so well, since it is not your average World War II score. If you enjoy quiet and slow music, (or if you like soundtracks such as Rudy or Glory) this is just the soundtrack for you. This score also reminds me of "Empire of the Sun" in many ways, since it is also based on World War II, and has the same John William's style. Overall, this is a great soundtrack."