By: Oberst Von Berauscht
The Western genre has by tradition been accompanied by great music; whether fully orchestrated or with more unconventional scores, the music in these films embody the spirit of Americana…
The Magnificent Seven
Written by: Elmer Bernstein
The most copied piece of music in Western history, it effectively established a formula that was followed by every traditional Western film score to follow. And it is beautiful, setting the tone for the lively adventure in every moment. The main theme is full of adventure and excitement, every bit as much as the film itself offers.
Written by: John Williams
It is perhaps fitting that this film features a score from Steven Spielberg’s constant collaborator, as this classic John Wayne western combines the whimsy of a coming-of-age story with the gritty reality of life on the open range. Even more interesting is that this movie came before his work with Spielberg, hinting very much at the sort of films they’d both work on so often in the late 70s-80s.
The Assassination of Jesse James
Written by: Nick Cave and Warren Ellis
Robert Ford thought his killing of Jesse James would make him wealthy and more importantly, respected. Instead of this, the murder made him a pariah, a cold-blooded murderer, even more of an outcast than he’d been previously. It also made him a hunted man, by every man with a loaded gun and an empty brain trying to make a name for himself. The tragedy of betrayal and poetry of suffering is conveyed clearly through this beautiful score. Nick Cave and Warren Ellis’ piece runs completely against the grain of typical Western themes. There is no hint of impending action, or of great epic deeds, but rather of sadness.
How the West Was Won
Written By: Alfred Newman
Everything about this movie is bigger, with a cast featuring dozens of celebrities, thousands of extras, and a story spanning nearly 100 years of history. The movie was even shot using Cinerama, a process wich required the use of three 35mm cameras mounted next to each other to create a viewing angle of 146 degrees. To this day, no other process created has resulted in a wider screen viewing experience. Even when played in theaters, unless the screen was specially built and curved correctly the picture would appear slightly distorted.
Yeah, this was pretty awesome
Unfortunately the film itself suffered from an overblown and incredibly pretentious story, which attempts to follow a single family over generations of Western expansion.
With that said, the Technical accomplishment of the cinematography, and Alfred Newman’s amazingly epic score make the film an essential part of film history. But only if you get a chance to watch it in the proper theatrical setting, as television does not do the format justice.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Written by: Ennio Morricone
To be perfectly honest, I actually prefer the overall score he did for Once Upon a Time in the West. But if my favorite Western film scores of all time list allowed repeat composers, then 1-5 would all be Morricone scores, and that wouldn’t be as fun to read. The score for TGTBATU on the other hand is perhaps the most imitated, parodied and respected in Morrcone’s catalog. Prior to the “Dollars” trilogy, Western films scores were mostly based around orchestral arrangements. This score features electric guitars, sound effects, and chanting voices. It was the influence of this score, and the scores he did for A Fistful of Dollars and For a few Dollars More, which influenced a generation of filmmakers to change the way they scored movies. And if that main theme doesn’t convince you, please stay for “Ecstasy of Gold”, the single most epic thing in the history of epic things…
What other Western movie themes do you like?
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