Mental Flotsam, Mental Jetsam

Because the only thing that beats going crazy is going crazy with somebody else

Monday, November 06, 2006

Probably Reading Too Much Into It, But Still

I've been spending a fair amount of time listening to the soundtrack from Superman Returns, as well as the score to the first movie. John Ottman wrote the new music for the sequel, and of course John Williams composed the original work.

It's worth mentioning that one of Bryan Singer's provisos for directing the latest blockbuster was that he could revisit the original theme music. I'm glad he did. I love this stuff.

There are notable differences, however. Both soundtracks have their individual strengths.

John Ottman managed to 'punch up' the original opening theme simply by adding a few heartbeats of 'Dun da da. Dun da da Dun da da' before kicking into the theme itself. It's not unlike those final clacks at the top of the roller coaster before you start racing through it.

The other thing I realized about the original theme is why it's so thrilling. Not just because it's one of Williams' masterpieces. No: The theme is a hymn. Fanfare for the man in blue.

"Look, here he comes. That's him coming, now. He's so great. Watch him save the day." 'BAH ba Baaaaah...'

For whatever reason, Williams never composed a theme for Lex Luthor. The March of the Villians is pure Otis. It's fun, it's memorable, it's got a beat you can, well, march to; but it can hardly be taken seriously. Ottman finally provided Luthor with his own theme. It doesn't have a name, it doesn't get its own song in the soundtrack. It's a theme that recurs, throughout.

It indidiously creeps in for the scene in which Lex steals into the Fortress of Solitude. Later on, it's a full-blown fanfare of its own, after the Kryptonite Island appears. Something I didn't notice until only listening to the music, was the brilliant use of Lex's Theme against Superman's. As the caped wonder flies toward the island, we hear Lex's theme loud and clear. Then Superman's theme comes back even louder to drown it out.

The other difference best worth mentioning is the love song, aka "Can You Read My Mind". In Superman Returns, we never hear the theme in its entirety. Nor should we, given that Lois and Supes can't make it work. We know it'll never happen for them, now; and the music reflects it. In the original score, the love theme is braver, more indulgent, not to mention longer-- Perfect for a couple of crazy kids with their whole lives ahead of 'em, with no foreseeable obstacles to falling madly in love. Simpler times...

Draw whatever you like from it. The music from both is just marvelous. That's all.


  • At 4:30 PM, Anonymous Kyleen said…

    I don't think it's overly-analytical at all, but then, I find music analysis fascinating. I suppose I'll have to see the movie and listen to the score now -- I'm intrigued.

  • At 1:12 PM, Blogger Lando Da Pimp said…

    I love Ottman's Soundtrack. When I first popped it in and heard Williams score I knew right away that I would love the film. It is a shame that Williams never was able to explore a soundtrack for the Reeve sequels.


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