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Munich, The John Williams Score That Surprised Me

For me, and I think for most people of my generation, John Williams is known as being the king of big orchestral symphonies. For example, his scores for films including Star Wars, Jurassic Park and E.T. However, I think Williams is at his best when scoring intimate emotional films, Schindler's list comes to mid as one of his greats.

Williams shows that brilliant style of emotive writing here with Munich. The first cue opens with the powerful wailing vocals of Lisbeth Scott in an almost Lisa Gerrard style. It's incredibly emotive and draws you straight into the feelings surrounding the events that we are seeing. The next standout part for me is the deep percussive rhythm which drive the action scenes and crops up every now and then throughout the film. The percussion doesn't really sound like the sort of thing I'd expect from Williams. It clearly shows that in this film Williams is pushing himself and going further than what he is usually comfortable writing. At first glance the opening vocal melody, deep percussion and use of stings had lead me to believe this was not even a Williams score. After recently watching Spy Game I almost came to think It may have been composed by Harry Gregson-Williams. This shows in most of his films from 2005, and I think it might go down as one of the most creative years of his career. Spielberg, the director of Munich and Williams' previous film War Of The Worlds, describes 2005 as Williams' 'red letter year' when some of his most prolific scores were written.

I think however with this score Williams really brings back the strength of his piano writing, something he gave us a lot more of in his earlier days. He was however a pianist for Fox Studios at the start of his career. In some of the strongest parts of the film the orchestra is only there to support and enrich the piano. I think this lends really nicely to way the group in the film operates. They are meant to be a surgical, precise element focused on their role, which relates to the intimacy of the piano. However they are inconsistent and rash at times which is shown with the rushed detuned feel from the piano.

I think the most important part of this film is in fact its heart. Williams has clearly put a lot of effort into making sure this is evident. It is extremely powerful while managing to stay intimate which keeps you on edge and constantly involved in the plot. I think this is what makes Munich such an engaging film and defiantly worth the watch.

Standout Tracks:

Munich, 1972

The Attack At Olympic Village

A Prayer For Peace


Encounter In London And Bomb Malfunctions

Discovering Hans

Thoughts Of Home

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