Sunday, February 13, 2011
For this Valentines Day - we bring twenty-one of our favorite romantic movie themes - guaranteed to get you all happy and sappy, if you aren't there already. This list is certainly not exhaustive but touches on great love themes from several eras of movie music.
Storybook Love (The Princess Bride) by Mark Knopfler
It's been named many times as the score that first captured the attention of future film music composers. The film, The Princess Bride, is nothing less than a classic and that is at least in part to Mark Knopfler's simple but memorable love theme.
Partition (Partition) by Brian Tyler
Not a name you might associate with a lush, romantic theme, but in this much-overlooked film, Brian Tyler shows he can handle forbidden romance as much as he can fast-paced action.
For the Love of a Princess (Braveheart) - James Horner
In 1995, James Horner was at the top of his game. Amidst some of his most memorable cues of all time comes this wonderful love theme; a theme that remains as romantically full as when we first heard it.
Love Theme (Romeo and Juliet) by Nino Rota
What list would be complete without Nino Rota's unforgettable love theme to Romeo and Juliet? It's the first theme on this list that falls into a special group; themes that have become so well known and, at times, over-used, that we forget how magically romantic they truly are.
Across the Stars (Star Wars: Attack of the Clones) - John Williams
One of the very few positive things to come out of Episode Two of the Star Wars saga was John Williams classically-styled-love theme; one that was both full of love but also tragedy (not unlike the preceding track from Rota). Williams' theme is overflowing with the most romantic of all midichlorians - enough to make even the most hardened spice pirates cry, or fall in love, or something.
Lara's Theme (Doctor Zhivago) - Maurice Jarre
Fast approaching 50 years since it's debut, Maurice Jarre's memorable theme from the epic David Lean film continues to pack a special, unmatched charm. While it doesn't get plays on the airwaves as it did in the late 1960's, it remains one of the most identifiable and beloved movie love themes of all time.
Beautiful (King Kong) by James Newton Howard
Of course the irony of a beast understanding and appreciating beauty was not lost on composer James Newton Howard and the talented composer delivers a delicate piece of music that goes under-appreciated in light of the overwhelming "bigness" of the score. In his own masterful way, Newton Howard underlines the obvious beauty of the track with sense of wonder, but also impending tragedy. Sounds like love to me.
Love Theme (Dances With Wolves) by John Barry
The theme representing the love between Dances With Wolves and Stands With A Fist carries that classic, lush John Barry sound. It is a shame that film composers don't get many opportunities to write such music any longer, but at least we have Barry's romantically abundant library to return to.
That Next Place (Meet Joe Black) by Thomas Newman
While the film didn't do very well - despite it starring Brad Pitt, Anthony Hopkins, and oh let us not forget the enchanting Claire Forlani - Thomas Newman's score did receive some due attention. Here, he takes his simple love theme and transforms into an amazing climactic piece.
Theme from Sabrina (Sabrina) by John Williams
I wasn't a huge fan of this remake, but John Williams held up his end of the deal by delivering a thoughtful piano-led theme for Sabrina.
Love Theme (Ben Hur) by Miklos Rozsa
Of course Ben Hur is known for its epic tale and epic scale, but Rozsa's lush and languishing love theme between Judah Ben Hur and Esther remains a beautiful high point every time it appears in the film.
The Wedding (Legends of the Fall) by James Horner
Why this film is considered a guilty pleasure is beyond me. John Toll's beautiful photography is duly matched by James Horner's emotional score. I, for one, have no guilt in watching this film or playing it's score repeatedly...and on Valentines Day, it should be mandatory.
Love Theme (The Saint) by Graeme Revell
Now here is a theme that you may have forgotten about. Revell's love theme for The Saint might be his single best piece. While the finale of the film has a slightly more energized version of this sumptuous theme, the piece we have here is just simple - simply rapturous.
Love Theme (Spartacus) by Alex North
Another classic. Alex North's love theme remains one of his most beloved. Perfectly embodying the love between Spartacus and Varinia, North's theme carries the film to it's emotionally potent conclusion like few love themes have done since. With all due respect to those who have written music for later incarnations of the Spartacus story...no one comes close to this.
Emma (The Time Machine) by Klaus Badelt
Here's one you may have never heard...or just forgotten about. Going way back into the career of Klaus Badelt we have The Time Machine and for the character, Emma, Badelt showed us that he could carry the romantic as well as he could the rambunctious.
Rose (Titanic) by James Horner
Admittedly, this 1997 theme from James Horner has gotten its fair share of plays. Perhaps, to its own detriment, it received more than its share. As a result, Rose's theme may not pack the same punch that it did back then, but, if we are going to be honest, many of us were pretty enthralled with it for a few months. So being over 15 years away from Cameron's big tale, it might just be ok to start playing and enjoying this one again.
Rowena's Theme (Mr. Holland's Opus) by Michael Kamen
From the first moment I heard this piece from Michael Kamen, I was enchanted. As romance does at times, there is bit of melancholy in Kamen's work here. This version from the compilation album, Michael Kamen's Opus, has not lost an ounce of its potency.
Confluence (Memoirs of a Geisha) by John Williams
Concluding the beautifully shot film of Memoirs of a Geisha, John Williams piece brings all of the disparate pieces of Sayuri's life together in this track; filled with longing and disciplined beauty which has been tinged with sadness.
All Love Can Be (A Beautiful Mind) by James Horner
Charlotte Church's voice brings a certain solidity to James Horner's ever present theme in A Beautiful Mind. While there are a number of familiar Horner elements which comprise this music, Church's voice makes it something special...something that captures the essence of innocent commitment and the selflessness of love.
Love Theme (Superman) - John Williams
As we wind down this list we return to the rapturous style of love theme that was certainly acceptable in the late Seventies. Williams' theme for Superman and Lois Lane sees a number of renditions, including a pop-vocal, which I'm still trying to forget over 30 years later. Still, the theme is ripe with all that made John Williams a wielder of true musical magic back then. This piece, as do so many of his best from that era, repeats and builds to new heights until those with the slightest issues with vertigo will have a hard time taking it all in. For Superman, we have the most triumphant of love themes - as well we should.
Estella's Theme (Great Expectations) by Patrick Doyle
We close this list out with a piece from Patrick Doyle that will ever be one of his finest. In this modern retelling of Great Expectations, Doyle's guitar-led theme for Estella is at once innocently charming yet with the potential of being mercilessly seductive - a trait he later exploits in the track "Kissing in the Rain."
There you have it; some of my favorite romantic movie themes. I can garauntee that one pass through these tracks and you will have your romantic target in full swoon mode. Of course, I may have missed one or two themes, so feel free to post your faves!