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Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Independence Day
Music by David Arnold
La-La Land Records LLLCD 1113 (US)
Disc 1 - 22 Tracks 65:31 mins Disc 2 20 Tracks 63:34 mins

It's not often I can feel thoroughly spoilt by what's come my way but, after yesterday's review of the timeless classic score by Dimitri Tiomkin for The Alamo, today I can turn my attention to a modern classic, David Arnold's score for 1996's Independence Day, Emmerich and Devlin's blockbuster alien invasion movie, which may today have it's critics, but which was a huge box office success at the time and remains a great popcorn movie that I'm not ashamed to say is still one of my favourite good time watches.
Enterprising label La-la Land Records were of course responsible for bringing us the much requested score for composer David Arnold's last collaboration with Emmerich and Devlin, Godzilla, a film that sadly just didn't quite work. That score was given a deluxe double CD presentation and now, I'm very pleased to say the same label has given Independence Day the same treatment. Unlike Godzilla, however, there was a score album put out at the time of the movie, which was a very enjoyable listen, but was a hurried effort which, whilst covering many key moments in the score, was missing the film version of the climactic battle and also the finale, and included the original opening track of the score, before Emmerich had Arnold tone it down a little. Now, at long last we have the complete score, as heard in the film, plus, on disc two, a whole range of alternate takes, including the album tracks not included in the finished score, as well as a good number of cues that Arnold was asked to re-score.
Accompanying the music is a splendid 20-page booklet, lavishly illustrated, and featuring Dan Goldwasser's detailed notes on the film and its music, with contributions by composer Arnold, producer Dean Devlin and recording engineer Dennis Sands, and these notes reveal just what a challenging assignment this was for Arnold, who was holed up in a makeshift studio in a hotel room desperately trying to finish the huge amount of music required before the July 4th (when else?) deadline.
Sometimes great work is produced under the most difficult of circumstances, and this was certainly the case here, for whatever the critics may say about the film, they certainly can't deny the effectiveness of its score and the wealth of great themes the composer came up with for it: like Tiomkin with The Alamo, Arnold practically threw the kitchen sink at it.
Today's action fare, whilst undeniably containing a good deal of exciting action music, seldom has any great thematic material to latch on to but, in Independence day, one great theme follows another; the principal themes being the relentless, all-conquering theme for the aliens; its counterpart, a noble and heroic theme associated with the indomitable spirit of the surviving people of Earth; a charming love theme, with an action variant, for Will Smith and Vivica A. Fox's characters; another, bittersweet, romantic theme for U.S. President Bill Pullman and his wife, the ill-fated Mary McDonnell; and finally, a splendidly heroic and exciting victory theme. All the major themes come together quite splendidly in the lengthy "End Credits" suite, which makes for a great concert piece. But, along the way, there's plenty more to enjoy, and although Arnold himself may prefer the quieter moments, I'd especially pick out his outstanding action writing for cues like "Base Attack," and of course those making up the thrilling finale.
I still can't believe what a great week this has been for a veteran soundtrack collector like myself. And if you're new to the game, you can't go far wrong by investing in both The Alamo and Independence Day, both fine examples of film scoring through the ages.
Limited to 5000 units, which are sure to go fast, you can order your copy of Independence Day from, where you can first listen to samples if you wish.


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