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Wednesday, June 06, 2012

David Arnold -- Independence Day [Original Soundtrack Recording]


As we walked out of a dark theater and into the bright sun of the summer of 1996, my brother put his Independence Day ticket stub into his pocket and said to me, "That wasn't as good as Star Wars."
He was right. Independence Day is not as good as Star Wars. I don't have to go on about Star Wars' positive qualities, or the fact that I've watched it three times as much as I've watched Independence Day in the last sixteen years. The two aren't even close. Yet Independence Day does feature several notable qualities. It is a ton of fun. It doesn't take itself too seriously, except when it absolutely has to, striking a balance that makes it hold up today over all the other disaster films it spawned in its flaming wake--"flaming" because: STUFF SPLODES. And finally, actually much like Star Wars, Independence Day has quite a memorable score.
David Arnold, fresh off his triumphant composing work on Stargate, re-teams with Director/Writer/Producers Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin to provide Independence Day's soundtrack. I would say it hits all the right notes, but that is a really cheesy pun...and actually I just said it...crap. Anyway, Arnold pulls no punches, going for the gusto. When the aliens arrive, gongs, drums, cymbals are pummeled, choirs sing menacingly loud, strings are ripped off of violins, and horn players need oxygen tanks to survive the aftermath. When the heroes fight against their extraterrestrial foes, George Washington might as well be riding a flaming horse to Washington. Independence Day absolutely would not work with a subdued score. In addition to its top-notch special effects and action scenes, Independence Day needs two things to succeed at the highest levels of B-Movie film-making: moments of levity that show the film realizes it is ridiculous (virtually every scene that Randy Quaid's drunken ex-abductee steals), and a score so into the film, the audience can't help but be as well.
Take for instance the overblown, patriotic speech Bill Pullman's President is forced to deliver before the film's final battle:

On its own, the speech is groan-inducing. After experiencing that scene with Arnold's music behind it, though, the viewer can't help but smile and want to stab every living alien in the heart with a star-spangled dagger. Arnold's music makes the film work, just as it makes Stargate work.
Like John Williams' work in Star Wars and countless other films, David Arnold's compositions inspire the viewer to watch the films he scores. And now I want to go watch Independence Day and Stargate, not caring that I'm viewing films that are indeed not as good as Star Wars, films where Mac Books can give viruses to alien spacecraft and Kurt Douglas and James Spader can take down galactic overlords, cuz dangit, the music tells me they can!

1996 RCA Victor
1. 1969-We Came in Peace 2:04
2. S.E.T.I. - Radio Signal 1:52
3. The Darkest Day 4:13
4. Canceled Leave 1:45
5. Evacuation 5:47
6. Fire Storm 1:23
7. Aftermath 3:35
8. Base Attack 6:11
9. El Toro Destroyed 1:30
10. International Code 1:32
11. The President's Speech 3:10
12. The Day We Fight Back 4:58
13. Jolly Roger 3:15
14. End Titles 9:08

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