Call me Easily Impressed. Christopher Gordon’s soundtrack navigates an entirely
predictable course, but I, for one, am exhilarated by the voyage. We expect grand
orchestrations that echo the struggle of man versus Nature; we get them. We expect
overtones of oceanic fury and the open sea’s most awesome denizen; we get them. We
expect epic phrases that resonate biblical themes and spiritual significance; we get them.
And we expect a foreboding quality that gradually builds to the drama of the final watery
apocalypse; and we get that too.
We don’t get too many surprises, but with no less than 41 individual cues –
keeping pace with Melville’s 135 chapters – Gordon has provided wave after wave
of dynamic and tonal variation to sweep us away in the spirit of the saga. From the very
first cue, Call Me Ishmael (which inherits its title from the story’s famous opening
line), the ominous atmosphere is established with heraldic and noble brass introducing the
powerful and melodic theme that successfully anchors the score.
Strident, angry passages of weighty orchestration are punctuated by jaunty woodwind and
percussion to contrast the exotic and spiritual elements of the saga with its harrowing
psychological depths. Every Great White Leviathan deserves a signature phrase, and while
Jaws got a deep oscillating semi-tone, Moby is personified with a shrill brass flourish
that trumpets symbolic omnipotence. The dramatic concluding sequences ascend to such
rhythmic intensity that you may need to resist an urge to harpoon the goldfish. But all is
resolved with the contemplative penultimate cue, Orphan Of The Sea, and finally, a reprise
of the majestic Moby Dick theme as a fitting epilogue.
Publication date: October 26, 2000