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Composer John Barry: 1933 - 2011

Posted by Patrick Sauriol on Monday, January 31, 2011

In 1962 the producers of a spy movie needed help. The man who they had hired to write the score for their movie was struggling in finding the music for it. Reaching out for assistance, they were turned to a career musician who was employed conducting the orchestras for the background music heard on singers under the EMI recording label. That man was John Barry, and the movie that went on to score became the first James Bond movie, Dr. No. And so began the history of one of modern day cinema's greatest composers of film scores.

Barry went on to record the next 11 Bond movies, ending his relationship with the secret agent on the first Timothy Dalton picture, The Living Daylights. Although Barry was never credited on-screen for the James Bond Theme (Monty Norman is given that distinction), there has always been a question of doubt about how much both men contributed to those signature notes. The matter even went to court, with Norman winning the legal battle but not settling what percentage was Barry's contribution to the theme.

 

 

Throughout his five decade career Barry won five Oscars: Best Original Song and Best Musical Score for Born Free (1967); and Best Scores for The Lion in Winter (1969), Out of Africa (1986) and Dances With Wolves (1991). Personally, during my childhood I imprinted Barry's work with the sweeping orchestral scores of films like The Black Hole, Raise the Titanic, Somewhere in Time, High Road to China, Body Heat and The Golden Child. Even as an impressionable kid, at the time I recognized more than a few of those movies as failures in a storytelling sense, but for their music? Hell no. As goofy as the outer space battle was in Moonraker, or as silly an idea it was to make a movie about raising the Titanic from the bottom of the ocean floor, John Barry's score superceded the lesser qualities of those movies. And when the movie was as good as Barry's score (like Somewhere in Time), it gave that picture a heightened quality.

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Barry's final film score was for 2001's Enigma. He passed away yesterday at the age of 77 from a heart attack, and I would be surprised if there isn't a place to pause and give honor to him somewhere in the next James Bond movie. The music of cinema has lost one of its giants, a composer that could uncover the true personality of a movie through its' soundtrack.

I'll leave you with this final piece of Barry work from Moonraker. In just the music alone, he conveys more majesty and awe about traveling into outer space than all of the visual effects of that film. If the Apollo moon program was ever supposed to have a theme then this would be it.

 

 

Daltons chin dimple
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Posts: 12800
Posted: 6 years 38 weeks ago

Shit. Fuck. No!

....says "Kill Bond, NOW!"