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John Williams

The Terminal [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]

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Director Steven Spielberg keeps coming up with different kinds of films, and composer John Williams, with whom he has collaborated on 21 of them now, keeps finding appropriate musical settings. For The Terminal, a film about an Eastern European trapped in the international arrivals airport terminal in New York when his country erupts into civil war, Williams seems to have taken inspiration from the main character's origins and the film's lightly comic mood. His main theme for this character, "The Tale of Viktor Navorski," playfully recalls "The Third Man Theme," even if it is played on a clarinet most of the time. There is also a love theme for the bittersweet romance Navorski enters into, and that minor-key motive echoes such familiar tunes as "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning" and even the folk ballad "Barbara Allen." The soundtrack album is presented out of sequence from the film, and it is very much oriented to listening as opposed to simply mirroring the actions onscreen. This makes it a better audio experience, with Williams' themes being developed and finished. But it in some ways does not reflect the movie accurately. In particular, the big payoff of the film turns out to be Navorski's purpose in coming to America, which is to get an autograph from a jazz musician, Benny Golson. On screen, we see and hear Golson, but he is not featured on the soundtrack album, which is a shame. ~ William Ruhlmann, Rovi

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