Tora! Tora! Tora!
FILM SCORE MONTHLY
For further information (including track list):
Tora! Tora! Tora! released by 20th Century Fox in 1970 was about
the attack on Pearl Harbour as seen from the American and Japanese points
Jerry Goldsmith, under contract to Fox at the time, had accumulated very
ample experience of Asia and the war epic (The Sand Pebbles, The Spiral
Road, Morituri, The Chairman, In Harm's Way, Von Ryan's Express and
The Blue Max) and was a natural choice. Without a central character
as in Patton, he chose to score the implacable forces of war and fate and
the ancient cultural underpinnings of the Japanese warriors. His music, as
typified by the opening Main Title, is sharp and explosive with jagged
dissonances wrapped in exotic Japanese harmonies and orchestrations. There
is also a feeling of religious zeal. This mood continues over into 'The
Chancellery' where the machinery of war screws up to almost hysteria as the
Tri-Partite Pact with Hitler is sealed before a mood of noble forbearance
overtakes as the scene shifts to Washington. Goldsmith shows great imagination
and ingenuity in screwing up the tension as the inevitable grows closer with
small cells of music endlessly repeated but varied in tempo and orchestration
and pitch -- sometimes with shuddering glissandos or wrenching pitch bends.
'The Waiting Game', for instance, grows in rhythmic complexity with solo
block percussion opening the cue and running through most of the piece eventually
joined by echoplex effects with fluttering woodwinds adding a mix of traditional
and modernistic Japanese sound as the Japanese aircraft carriers make ready
for invasion. 'Pre-flight Countdown' brings the tension to fever pitch as
groans and urgent horn figures prelude pounding war rhythms against dynamic
flourishes from the brass, flutes and piccolos. It is amazing how vividly
Goldsmith evokes the acceleration of propeller blades and the upward swoop
of the aircraft.
In addition to the basic fourteen cues there are seven bonus tracks, most
of them offering some well-needed variety. If there can be any criticism
levelled at this album it does tend to become a tad repetitive and tedious
in its action material and the relentless repetition of small cell ideas
over so many tracks. 'Japanese' and 'American Military' offer military band
music. 'Big Band Source' features two big band tunes from Harry Owens and
Mack Gordon: "At Last" and "Chattanooga Choo Choo". 'Hawaiian Radio' plays
Hawaiian music and there is cocktail lounge piano and orchestral version
of the Tora Theme.
Exotic and exciting, another must for Goldsmith fans.