Flags Of Our Fathers/Clint Eastwood

October 7, 2006

 

Based on the best selling book by Bradley and Powers, “Flags Of Our Fathers” tells the story of the six men who raised the victory flag at the battle of Iwo Jima. Many have seen the famous photograph taken by Joe Rosenthal of the famous flag raising on Iwo Jima in February of 1945 as it is one of the more duplicated pictures of all time and pure luck in terms of the perfect structure of the photo as Joe tells it. The film directed by Clint Eastwood and produced by Eastwood and Spielberg will open in the theater on October 20th of 2006 and stars Ryan Phillippe, Adam Beach, and Jesse Bradford. Like his award winning “Mystic River”, Clint doesn’t appear in the film but writes the music and Lennie Niehaus does the conducting and orchestration, while his son Kyle handles the re-recording chores of appropriate music from the period. Even before its premiere there is already Oscar buzz and much anticipation about its release.

The score, songs, and orchestrating are quite straight forward. As you would expect it is quite solemn and military like. “Goodbye Ira” is an excellent example of the main theme. It is a nice theme played so simply that it would make a nice exercise for someone learning to play the piano with basic easy chords. This can also be said about the guitar playing on the “End Titles Guitar” track one string at a time again in a simple basic straightforward fashion. The “End Titles” has the same theme. This theme also appears at the end of the “Wounded Marines” track after beginning with some underscore, this time with first the piano, then soft strings and the theme repeated on a trumpet and flute. It is also repeated at the beginning of “The Medals” but shifts to a variation of with flute and piano with simple violin accompaniment. Like “Mystic River”and “Million Dollar Baby”, this is quite the monothematic soundtrack, something which Eastwood uses effectively in his films.

The track “Knock Knock” written by Kyle and others is a pretty cool small group tune featuring trumpet lead and depicts the time era quite well. “Any Bonds Today?” and “Vict’ry Polka” are tunes from the era arranged by Kyle but ones that are not often played as source material. Thank heaven Clint avoided the good but way overused “In The Mood” number. “The Thunderer” and “Washington Post March” from Sousa bring back the marching and Saturday afternoon football games. The arrangements, again by Kyle, are for a smaller band and seem to have more intimacy than the larger ensembles. The original source material of “Summit Ridge Drive” from Artie Shaw and His Gramercy Five also relates to the intimacy as opposed to a big band number which was avoided. For those of you who are not familiar Shaw was fairly progressive in his time and used a harpsichord as part of the ensemble, something which was quite effectively used. There are a couple of small classical selections from Mozart and Haydn which round out the selections on this CD. However, there is a word of caution to all of this which is this is an advance copy of the material and is subject to revision to the CD which will be available in stores on October 17th. There is no information about the soloists, engineering, recording etc. Any or all of the source material used may or may not appear on the finished product.

There are other things that really need to be said about this soundtrack but watching of the film is very important before a complete evaluation of the material can be discussed in an intelligent fashion. Likely this is going to be a score you will want if you are taken with the film or are a fan of Eastwood material. His style is quite simple but very effective. The score likely takes a back seat to the film and is written and orchestrated to be in the background.

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