CineFile – The Film Music of John Barry

John Barry, who died last week at the age of 77, was one of the greatest and most successful scorers ever of film scores. His twelve James Bond soundtracks are just an easy highlight, with memorable, moving scores ranging from Midnight Cowboy to Out of Africa. One could take the scores omitted from a greatest themes compilation and create yet another. Barry won five Oscars for his music.

A little known Barry score, because of the film’s obscurity, is the soundtrack to James Clavell‘s 1971 historical epic The Last Valley, starring Michael Caine and Omar Sharif. It is a fascinating and stirring film that I haven’t seen since, but among its notable features is its setting: The Thirty Years War. Name other films set during that era. (I’m waiting.) The score is varied and rich, and in the suite below the rousing drama is followed at four minutes in by a characteristically Barry somehow both sweeping and restrained romantic theme. This is followed by “Moviola,” a theme Barry wrote not for any film, but for just one of those compilation recordings – a sort of essential film theme for film itself, as the accompanying video suggests.

The Last Valley


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