Musings About Music In Film

Back To The Future Part III

back-future-3 Well, it's happened - the events of the 1985-1990 Back To The Future Trilogy have become legend, with the latest part of the film timeline going past yesterday (October 21st, 2015). Things aren't much different; gangs of asshole kids still roam cities, baseball continues to be a big deal to about two people, and Ooh La La! is still stirring loins worldwide, only as a pdf. We've already taken a look at the reissue of the first score by Alan Silvestri, released with II and III for this momentous occasion. But this timeline isn't linear, so today we'll be punching people into piles of manure, in a musical sense of course.

Back To The Future Part III holds a unique position in the series; II was a clever retelling of I so its music was very much based around renditions and reprisals of original cues with a darker slant, whereas III took the series back into the Old West, an age ripe for musical storytelling having previously been home to everyone from Alfred Newman to Bruno Zambrini (Silvestri would return five years later for Sam Raimi's excellent The Quick and the Dead). The music here is a joy, with it being driven by the western theme memorably introduced for the III preview at the end of II, but what also stands out is the beautiful theme for Clara and Doc. The romance between Marty and Jennifer was characterised by the heavy chords of Huey Lewis, but here it's a wonderfully old-fashioned love theme, introduced in the main title on strings before segueing to amazing woodwinds.

The main title is a wonderful exhalation of breath after the smash and grab of the previous films' music, and you need it for the rest of the score - which is a good thing. The trilogy is built around repeating key moments in different times and the score is no different, but the change in feel and scope is tangible when Marty arrives in 1885, and you hear the 'Indians' cue, a great instant introduction to these times by Silvestri. He also adapts the themes on occasion to fit the instruments of the time, but when the score is in full flow - like the immense three-part 'The Train' - any worries about the anachronistic go out the window.

Back To The Future Part III is the jewel of the trilogy. It's a wonderful action score, with a beautiful sense of romance and adventure, with somewhat of a maturity to it as we realise these characters aren't getting any older, despite hopping from century to century. This 25th anniversary release is excellent, with the great-sounding complete version from Varese Sarabande - the Mondo vinyl version has the full score but drops the source and alternate cues - and it's a superb score that needs to be owned in whatever way you can. I feel sorry for Alan Silvestri as a composer; he never gets the credit he deserves while producing an amazing body of work. Thankfully, Back To The Future has brought him public recognition (at least as much as you can get for film music) and whatever time you're in, that has to be worth celebrating.

Back To The Future Part III is available digitally from Geffen, on CD from Varese Sarabande, and on vinyl from Mondo