I never obtained formal musical training, so whenever I write about movie soundtracks I fear I come across as clumsy and imprecise. I don’t have the right terms and language to put to into words the feelings I yearn to share about the music I listen to. I just know greatness when I hear it, and I want to shout it from the rooftops in spite of my shortcomings.
Randy Edelman isn’t a household name among film composers like John Williams or Hans Zimmer, but he has done some brilliant work over the course of his career. I would like to share some of his musical achievements and try to describe what they mean to me.
The Chipmunk Adventure
This is the first piece of Randy Edelman’s work I ever heard, and it captivated me as a child. It’s still incredible to my ears as it plays over the opening credits. From the first moment, it pops with energy and pensive excitement for what’s about to happen. This is the musical equivalent of someone doing their best to conceal a smile because of a happy secret they just can’t wait to share.
What a beautiful piece of music. I was racking my brain to remember where I had heard the song “To the Stars” for several days until I thought of the last David Copperfield TV special when he somehow transported himself and a young man thousands of miles to Hawaii in a matter of seconds. I watched that when it debuted on TV back in the day, and I remember the music being powerful. Who knew it came from the emotional end of Dragonheart?
Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story
Now we’ll move on to a very different kind of dragon movie: Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story. If you ever wanted to hear the ultimate song of triumph and longing, look no further than “Bruce and Linda.” This track reaches such astonishing heights of emotion that once it gets there it almost feels lost, wondering where to go from here because it never expected to reach such a towering peak. It inspires awe and wonder at what people are capable of.
Angels in the Outfield (1994)
Angels in the Outfield may not be the best baseball movie, but it does have a lot of powerful moments, which are enhanced by an incredible score. I get a real The Natural vibe listening to this music. “The Wave” comes at the film’s climax when pitcher Mel Clark has lost all faith in himself. He thinks he’s done for because he’s not the young pitcher he used to be. But when all hope is lost, his coach shows that he has faith in him, and so does everyone else in the stadium around them. It’s a beautiful scene, punctuated powerfully by this track, which seems to rise like a warm gust of air and lift us up as we listen to it before gently placing us back on the ground at the end.
There are so many great tracks on the Gettysburg soundtrack. “The Battle of Little Roundtop” is my favorite in part because it calls back to the main theme, but it makes it even more heroic, noble, and personal by starting off quiet and slowly building up to the crescendo and then pulling back to add even more emotion by quietly inserting music that accentuates the heavy price paid by each of the men going into battle. It also reminds me of the “Men of Honor” song heard near the start of the film when Colonel Chamberlain quietly tells a group of soldiers that they’re not going to be killed for deserting, and instead inspires them to regain their honor with a rousing speech. We see the culmination of that encouragement when he leads them into a desperate battle to defend the Union Army’s flank from a Confederate attack that would have likely cost them the Battle of Gettysburg and the whole Civil War.
Kindergarten Cop is a delightful film that packs a surprisingly emotional punch, thanks to musical flourishes like this. The “Closing” track plays over the ending of the film when Mr. Kimble triumphantly returns to his classroom and is welcomed by his students and a fellow teacher he saved in his role as a policeman. This track is basically a sumptuous summary of the film’s best musical moments, and it literally ends the film on a high note.
Thanks for the Music
Speaking of ending on a high note, I just want to add a few thoughts before concluding. Randy Edelman has done plenty of other solid soundtracks by himself and in tandem with other talented composers. He might not be the most famous in his craft, but there’s no denying he has made a lot of moving music, which I’ve barely scratched the surface of in this article. I recommend checking out more of his musical pieces if you’d like to give your ears a real treat.
This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.
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