Composer John Wiliams recently celebrated his 80th birthday while composing two oscar nominated soundtracks that proved he is still operating at the absolute peak of his craft. This would be like an NFL quarterback showing no dropoff in skill level and having an MVP season at 45 years of age.
The maestro showed his serious side and pulled out the emotional fireworks for “War Horse”. But it is in “The Adventures of Tintin: The Search for the Lost Unicorn” where Williams let loose his action adventure orchestral muscle for which is he is best known to the general public.
“The Adventures of Tintin” has been called the best Indiana Jones movie ever made not actually called Indiana Jones. The same thing can certainly be said of the soundtrack. To paraphrase a tag line from an earlier classic Spielberg/Williams collaboration, if adventure has another name then it’s John Williams.
Track one “The Adventures of Tintin” introduces the main theme with in a stylish “Catch Me If You Can” type track that draws upon the composer’s jazz flavored scores from the 1960s sex comdies such as “A Guide for the Married Man” back when he was known as “Johnny” Williams. There is a jazz feel to the entire sountrack of “Tintin”. Many of the gestures and musical colors used by Williams in all of his action scores can be traced back to his jazz roots as well as his avante-guarde music for the Irwin Allen television shows Lost in Space and Land of the Giants.
Throughout the early tracks all of the major themes are introduced including the memorable “Snowy’s Theme”. This theme is classic John Williams at his best, propolsive, mobile, melodic and light on its feet. “Secret of the Scrolls” serves the mysterious sense of wonder theme of the score and will bring to mind some of the classic musical moments from the Indiana Jones and Harry Potter scores. If there was one past John Williams score that “Tintin” is closest to in style and execution, it would be his 2004 soundtrack to “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”.
“Escape From The Karaboudjan” is the first of several rousing action cues spread throughout the perfectly sequenced album. The “Pursuit of the Falcon” is a vintage Williams action track in the tradition of “Desert Chase” from “Raiders of the Lost Ark”.
What a refeshing joy it is hear to action music created by a master like Williams. Mainly because you can actually hear it. Each layer of carefully crafted orchestral wonder builds upon the previous with a clear and crisp sounding instrumention always anchoring the sound. This stands as a stark contrast to the deafening white noise of the wall of sound used today by most composers who seem to confuse noise level with artistry.
“The Adventures of Tintin” is intricately constructed, fluid, ingeniously crafted, fluid, complex and yet always emotionally accessible and instantly visceral. It is intelligent, superbly entertaining film music created by a veteran superstar composer who after more than four decades of greatness is still the absolute best in the business.