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John Williams

Lincoln [Original Motion Picture Score]

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Director Steven Spielberg's 2012 Lincoln biopic eschewed the genre's usual trappings by focusing on a single month in the extraordinary life of the 16th president of the United States. Bereft of the weight of depicting a lifetime, he was able to play small ball with a big moment, something that his longtime composer counterpart John Williams does as well with his remarkably subtle score. Opening with a wistful, lovely clarinet cue, Williams sets the stage for what is essentially a cornucopia of measured yet soul-stirring, Aaron Copland/Randy Newman-imbued Americana that is delivered with the patience and grace of a true master. The score does away with much of the bombastic sentimentality that plagued the pair's prior outing, 2011's War Horse, but it does retain much of its heart, delivering melodies that elicit great sighs of nostalgia, melancholy, and stoic optimism, smelling of parchment and tobacco, and sounding for all the world like amber waves of grain. ~ James Christopher Monger, Rovi

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