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Soundtrack review: The post (John Williams – 2017)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: The post (John Williams – 2017)

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Steven Spielberg directs Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks in The Post, a thrilling drama about the unlikely partnership between The Washington Post’s Katharine Graham (Streep), the first female publisher of a major American newspaper, and editor Ben Bradlee (Hanks), as they race to catch up with The New York Times to expose a massive cover-up of government secrets that spanned three decades and four U.S. Presidents. The two must overcome their differences as they risk their careers – and their very freedom – to help bring long-buried truths to light. “The Post” marks the first time Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg have collaborated on a project. This was one of the most eagerly awaited movies of the end of 2017 and also the other John Williams score this December; what did he have left in the tank after “Star Wars”?

The opening cue “The papers” gives me mixed feeling as it’s an unexpected blend of John Williams’ trademark flute motifs that recur quite often in his “Star Wars” scores as well and a modern thriller sound that’s quite popular and has been so for years but that I wouldn’t have expected to find in a John Williams score. When an electronic motifs appears I am even more surprised. The genius of this composer is that he puts these elements together and right from the start I know that the action is set somewhere in the dark 70s. I rarely though somebody could write your regular investigative thriller score but enriched with orchestral motifs that are weaved so well in the fabric of the music that I can’t imagine a thriller score sounding differently. I think lately Fernando Velazquez has been the only one able to write such rich and dense thriller scores but the John Williams orchestral craft is unique.

The tone of “The post” is grave and dark; John Williams’ musical elegance fits the story and its mood like a glove. This score is all about the atmosphere and as far as the serious political element in the movie goes, this was ass Steve Spielberg needed; this isn’t an album where you will find recognisable themes but you will find motifs that are trademark to this wonderful composers when suddenly a cue would explode in an orchestral fury. The quiet piano melancholy of “Mother and daughter”, so simple and poignant, represents John Williams at his most gentle; it’s my favourite piece from “The post” as I can rarely get over a piano theme like this.

“The post” is a laid back slow burning composition with sudden bursts of energy and a composition in which the flute is very recognisable when it comes to charm one cue or the other. I liked the overall tone of the score and the melodic flow that allowed me to get lost in in for minutes at a time. The music was engaging enough on its own to make for an enjoyable standalone listen and JW fans will appreciate this desert after the rich meal of “The last Jedi”.

Cue rating: 88 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 13 / 40

Album excellence: 32%

Highlights:
The Presses Roll
The Oak Room, 1971
Mother and Daughter
Two Martini Lunch

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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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