During a q & a last week with LACMA’s Elvis Mitchell, Phil Spector director-writer David Mamet said that over the last few years hummable motion picture soundtrack themes have either disappeared or are being heard a lot less. This hadn’t occured to me but maybe Mamet is right. It used to be that almost every significant or ambitious film had a musical theme as well as themes assigned to major characters.
I’m not saying that Gustavo Santaolalla‘s Brokeback Mountain score was the last Oscar-winner that had a simple hummable theme, but it’s the last one I recall. Did Mychael Danna‘s Life of Pi score, which won the Oscar last month, have a hummable theme or a character theme? Not that I remember. Were there any hummable themes in Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross‘s Social Network score? I don’t recall any but then it wasn’t that kind of movie. A hummable theme was built into John Williams‘ War Horse score, but my mind has expelled all memories of it. I certainly remembered the two themes that Williams composed for his 20 year-old Jurassic Park score when I saw the 3D version last week, but that was another time.
I don’t accept Mamet’s observation that movie themes are nearly extinct, but they’re certainly becoming more scarce. I think that’s fair to say at this point.