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  • Writer's pictureValerie A. Higgs

Movie Scores

As I have mentioned before, I am a musician. So movie scores are very important to me. A score can make or break a movie for me. I can tell if I am going to like a movie just by listening to the opening theme.

One of my favorite composers of all time is, of course, John Williams (that's a no-brainer). I believe that his score for Schindler's List is his best.

I listen to scores a lot, and am planning on exploring some of the earlier works of Max Steiner, and those others who have set the standard for score writing. I am currently also deliberately running across women composers, since they are still not as represented in the movie score composing world.

Once in a while, a score really gets to me.

Currently, I am a huge fan of Tom Holkenborg (aka Junkie XL), and the score that got on my radar was Mad Max: Fury Road.

I'm going to backtrack a moment.

I saw the original Mel Gibson movies back in the day - well, I saw The Road Warrior and Mad Max, but not in order. I never got to the Thunderdome movie with Tina Turner. I was only vaguely interested in the first two movies and didn't have it in me to watch the third.

However, when I saw the trailer for Mad Max: Fury Road, I knew I HAD to see the movie. It looked too crazy to miss. And I loved it.

What did I love about it? Charlize. The plot. Tom Hardy's updated version of Mad Max. The frenetic camera work. The stunts. The War Boys. Immortan Joe's crazy mask. The editing. The nutty traveling band with the guitarist.

And the score.

The score gutted me.

I had to download the score immediately. I love practically every second. My favorite cuts are "Many Mothers" and "Storm is Coming."

Re "Storm is Coming": ever since I first heard Basil Poledouris' score for Conan the Barbarian score when I was a kid, I have been a sucker for brass and strings.

Interestingly, the first time I ran out to pick up a score immediately after watching a movie was after Thanksgiving 1998 when I first heard Hans Zimmer's score for Gladiator.

Upon further investigation, I discovered that Tom Holkenborg was mentored by Hans Zimmer. That seemed completely appropriate!

(Also, fun fact: the crazy guitarist in the movie providing Immortan Joe and the War Boys their real life soundtrack is Tom Holkenborg.)

Mad Max: Fury Road came on television this past weekend, and the music affected me so strongly this go 'round that I started crying. And then coincidentally, 60 Minutes did a story on Hans Zimmer the next night. I so strongly identify with his comment about how he is in love with music.

Sometime this season I might do a special podcast episode about scores and soundtracks, but if you want to listen to some of the stuff I love, here is a link to my Spotify Playlist, My Cinematic Bucket List: My Favorite Scores:

Let me know what you love to listen to!

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