Film scores

Soundtrack review: Powder (Jerry Goldsmith – 1995, 2016)

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“Powder” is a 1995 American fantasy drama film written and directed by Victor Salva and starring Sean Patrick Flanery in the titular role, with Jeff Goldblum, Mary Steenburgen, Bradford Tatum and Lance Henriksen in supporting roles. It is about Jeremy “Powder” Reed, who has an incredible intellect, as well as telepathy and paranormal powers. The film questions the limits of the human mind and body while also displaying society’s capacity for cruelty, and raises hope that humanity will advance to a state of better understanding. The score was written by Jerry Goldsmith and an extended version was released in 2016 by Intrada.

These expanded or deluxe editions is how I am getting to explore Jerry Goldsmith’s music. I am not the biggest fan because I usually have a hard time connecting with him. Still I want to hear as much as I can and this is one of the albums I now I am going to love. It’s 90s Jerry, my least favorite period of his but it’s not action, it’s pure emotion. From the first cue “Emergency room” I am drawn into the dramatic and intense atmosphere of this score. It doesn’t take many cues to show me the places where Jerry will take his music for “Powder”: romantic and emotional. I listen to “The books / You’re afraid” and hear John Barry lever of romantic and you know that’s hard to top.

I like how the composer captures what the main character is all about. Sometimes playful, other times doubtful, sometimes shy and other times full of longing, “Powder” is the kind of score that stands out. It will warm your hearts and make you dream, or make you want to hug your children. It’s as if Jerry Goldsmith wanted to show with this one that whatever emotion John Barry, Ennio Morricone or James Horner can express with their music, he can match. “Powder” is a sad story in the end and the composer makes me feel for the character, he makes me care for him and revolt against cruelty and evil.

Even so, some moments are so tender yet powerful that I feel I’m in a fairy tale. “Nature walk / Duncan’s revelation” might be my favorite piece from this score with the flute and the feeling of eternal spring and with the very small synth like inserts that make it feel even more magical. Then it turns into a horror cue that sends chills down my spine. It’s includes one of the few moments of fright. On the other hand there are also moments like the beginning of “The silver box” that get so wonderfully atmospheric I can hardly believe my ears.

“Powder” shows a side of Jerry Goldsmith I didn’t know yet and is one of my favorite compositions of his. I am a sucker for a deeply romantic score like this and I’m glad Intrada gave me the chance to discover it 20 years later. With a delightful theme that weaves its way throughout the score and with a musical intimacy that makes me a believer, “Powder” means that my journey of discovery reached an important milestone.

Cue rating: 92  / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 44 / 64

Album excellence: 68%

Highlights:

Emergency Room*

The Incubator*

The Books* / You’re Afraid*

The Window*

He Bites*

I’m Okay

Unhappy Days*

Nature Walk** / Duncan’s Revelation

Holding On*

Tricks / The Hat

The Silver Box

First Kiss

The Shower*

The Farm House*+

Going Away

Theme

 

 

 

About the author

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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