Superman: The Movie

Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Warner Brothers Records, 1978

REVIEW BY: Alfredo Narvaez

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 11/01/1999

I want to know how John Williams was able to write all these terrific scores in the late '70s. Think about it: Jaws, Star Wars, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, The Empire Strikes Back, and this one among a plethora of others. Now, come on, think of another superhero theme that is as easily remembered by the general public. Well, maybe Batman's theme from the cheesy 60s TV show and the Spider-Man theme from the cartoon. (Why would he want to do everything a spider can?)

Truth be told, however, the "Theme for Superman" is basically classic. It's the reason why, 20 years later, every Superman project tries to mimic it in some fashion. The theme encompasses the entire persona of Superman. It's grand, heroic and pure. From its opening notes, you feel as if this is the music that plays behind Superman.

But the soundtrack album - I'm speaking of the one CD and not the 2-CD package that came out last year - does possess other classic themes. In the second track, "The Planet Krypton," you are introduced to what becomes known as the "Krypton Theme". It is otherwordly and exotic. The music becomes a bit more serious for the trial scenes. However, I'm sure that those drums are supposed to be louder. Minor complaint, but necessary.

Then, there's the classic "Love Theme From Superman." We all know it and have heard it many times. It is very soft and quiet before building towards a climax. Here you get to hear it twice. It's also on "The Flying Theme" and" Can You Read My Mind." This is perhaps the biggest complaint I have. "Can You Read My Mind" turns the soft orchestra music into a jazz piece and has Margot Kidder's lines from the movie - which turn into a poem. Sorry, but I wanted the music. (In the 2-CD release, I've heard that this has been fixed, but still. There's no way to fight the cheesiness of this).my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Most of the music has a haunting feel. From "The Destruction Of Krypton" - which starts somber, then quiet and ends epic-like - to "The Fortress Of Solitude." "Fortress" is one of my favorite tracks because it features the "Krypton Theme" and uses it well to describe the creation of Superman's castle. It turns loud for the creation and then returns to the "Krypton Theme" once the castle is completed. Then, the music turns...cosmic is a good word, before ending with a short version of "Superman's Theme". Alongside this, is the quiet and tender "Leaving Home" - which does start out haunting - but turns quiet as it builds to an unnamed theme (The Kent Family Theme?) as Superman leaves home.

Unfortunately, not every track is this great. "Superfeats" and "Super Rescues" rely way to much on the "Superman Theme" and feature nothing more than generic action music. Meanwhile, "The Trip To Earth" is a bit too...hmm...flimsy. Depending a lot on the flutes early on before turning to the "Flying Theme", it isn't one of my favorites - but it's OK.

The final theme that everyone remembers is "The March Of The Villains." Now, some people do have a problem with this theme - since it depicts the bad guys as inept, bumbling fools. Personally, I love it. I think that it fits the characters great and I get the joke. After all, when you name something "The March Of The Villains," you expect evil and danger, but not this - which is why it works.

"Chasing Rockets" meanwhile brings al three main themes - Superman, Love and Villains - together and builds great action music around it. All three themes are used to build to the climax - Superman chasing nuclear rockets across the country. Then, it turns somber and loving to signal the death of Lois Lane. This segues into "Turning Back The World," a short piece where Supes turns back the world. The Krypton and Superman themes are used in the beginning, before a stronger and louder version of the "Love Theme" signals the action. The theme ends with a soft version of "Superman's Theme". I like the fact that instead of going with the classic way of doing things - "Superman's Theme" for the action and "Love Theme" for the soft moment - Williams shifts them around. The album ends with both the "Love Theme" playing softly and giving way to the classic "Superman Theme" for the ending and the end credits.

Granted, not every moment in this album is great, but there is so much good stuff in here that it just can't be passed up. I still remember being a kid and loving this music. Yeah, Batman had all them toys and Spider-Man could climb walls. But I wanted to be Superman. Why? Because he could fly. This music encompasses that desire and the character so well, I doubt any future Superman incarnation can feature better music.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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© 1999 Alfredo Narvaez and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Warner Brothers Records, and is used for informational purposes only.