Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal SkullConcord Records (CRE-30825-02)
Released: May 20, 2008
Formats: CD, Digital (78 min)
Review: Indiana Jones: The Soundtracks Collection
4.5 / 5 Stars
Legacy sets of scores for pop-culture behemoths have become de rigueur of late. Earlier this year, there was the stellar set of Superman scores from Film Score Monthly. Before Superman, there was the remarkable Lord of the Rings sets of complete scores. Finally, the granddaddy of these sets was the various releases of the original Star Wars trilogy. Looking at this quick list, I think you\'ll notice two things. First, most of them involve John Williams in some way, and second, there is a legacy price attached to the recordings in all cases.
The recent release of \"Indiana Jones: The Soundtracks Collection\" fits into this pattern easily by bringing together much loved scores by John Williams that have struck the public\'s fancy in ways not often seen in film music circles. But this release also breaks the pattern in one important way – it lists for half the price of the Star Wars sets and fully one third the Superman and one fourth all the Lord of the Rings. Why the low price? The title gives you the best hint – this is a collection of the soundtracks, not the complete scores. Although many of the tracks have not been available before, many have, including the disc containing Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, making for an uneven, though enjoyable release.
Raiders of the Lost Ark has been served well on previous releases, but nothing can compare to the excellent remastering this new set boasts. Raiders has never sounded so clean and since there is little new in the set (most of the music having appeared on prior releases), the sound quality is the reason to invest in this first disc. Only three short cues have been added and they add little to the overall flow of the music. Instead, in a strange move, the best new Raiders music is on the fifth, bonus disc. There you will find \"Uncovering the Ark,\" a haunting exploration of the Ark theme.
Temple of Doom has recently become one of the most explored Indiana Jones scores in academic literature, a strange phenomenon considering that of the four movies, its music has been the least available on recording before now. Listening to this wonderful disc, easily the best of the set, it is easy to see why people love to discuss this score above the others. It features Williams playing with non-Western sources in ways he rarely did before or has since and using hints of Indiana\'s theme to musically track the character\'s narrative arc to, literally, hell and back. Just listen to just one of the eleven new cues, \"Indy and the Villagers.\" Williams builds up his choir to incredible tension and dissonance before dissolving the structure into his new Indy theme, accurately showing Indiana Jones in a new land, pushing through unimaginable dangers to find himself anew.
Last Crusade has been the most easily available low these many years, and this set adds six new cues to the lineup. Yet, this disc also features my largest quibble with the entire set. The movie\'s most impressive set piece both visually and musically is the tank sequence, a sequence frustratingly cut in earlier releases (restored here with the addition of \"On the Tank\") that is presented out of order. The entire sequence is a virtuoso mingling of action and sound that is not given its due with music from the middle coming first in track order. Once again, the best new track is presented on the bonus disc, with the climatic \"Wrong Choice, Right Choice\" featuring the dissonant death by drinking of the film\'s main villain and Indiana\'s selection of the carpenter\'s cup leading to salvation for himself and his father. In this cue, the grail theme is given its most glorious treatment with full orchestra and choir and is truly a highlight.
Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is added for completeness as the release is identical to the one from earlier this year. Instead, I want to quickly return to the bonus fifth disc. Besides the extra cues that were not integrated with the scores, producer Laurent Bouzereau has pieced together a narrative discussion of the scores for these movies from interviews conducted with director Spielberg, producer Lucas, and composer Williams. Although a bit awkward in its transitions among the three, the interview is an engaging seventeen minutes that reveals how deeply and easily they collaborated to create these iconic movies.
With slick packaging and boasting superior sound, \"Indiana Jones: The Soundtracks Collection\" is a must have for fans of John Williams and these movies. While we might wish for every second of music Williams composed, in sound quality and music quality and price this collection is currently without equal. It is highly recommended.
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