Film: Home Alone
Composer: John Williams
John Williams is best known for his work in blockbusters - from Star Wars to Indiana Jones, Jaws to Harry Potter. ‘Home Alone’ provides a change of pace, moving away from those large-scale films to something much smaller. Gone are the space battles, the magic, the intercontinental adventures, replaced with a boy home alone for the holidays.
As usual, Williams delivers a plethora of memorable themes throughout the film. Although these are more scaled back and reserved than normal, Williams still varies the instrumentation, tone, intensity, speed, and so much more of each theme to alter its effect – from hopeful to dreamy to full of fear or uncertainty. And, befitting the Christmas setting, Williams slips in bells, brass sections, chimes, and a host of other instruments that add a wintry feel to variations on these themes.
What often gets lost in the constant focus on Williams’ masterful themes is the intimacy and emotion Williams can bring. ‘Somewhere in my Memory,’ the film’s main theme, is most effective not at climax of the film’s action, but of its emotion. A children’s choir performs a diegetic, lyrical version of the theme while our protagonist has a heartfelt conversation about the meaning of family, forgiveness, and Christmas. This rendition offers a layer of intimacy and honesty that drives home the film’s messages and adds a sincerity to the protagonist’s arc.
It’s no surprise that Williams created another excellent score in ‘Home Alone,’ he is arguably the greatest film composer. The pleasant surprise comes at the emotional heft that Williams adds, elevating the impact and message of the film, a skill of Williams’ that is far too often overlooked.
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