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Monday, February 22, 2010

Music That Matters (Top 50 Movie Symphonies: #21 Rudy (Main Title)/The Final Game by Jerry Goldsmith)

Jerry Goldsmith is considered one of the greatest if not perhaps the greatest composer of movie scores in the history of film. He has scored hundreds of films from 1957 to 2003, most notably providing the music for classic films such as Star Trek: The Movie, Hoosiers, The Omen, Gremlins, Total Recall, Basic Instinct, and Gremlins to name a few. I will admit that even though there is only one symphony of his on my Top 50, he deserves a lot of recognition for his talent composing music primarily for action, sci-fi, and horror films. But his best piece of work and only entry on this countdown is ironically for a sports movie, and that masterpiece is the theme and "The Final Game" from the 1993 sports movie classic, Rudy.

We all know the story of Rudy Ruttiger, right? He was a walk-on football player at Notre Dame in the 70's who won over the fans and his teammates with his hard work ethic and desire, which in turn allowed him to fulfill his dream of taking the field as a member of the Fighting Irish for one game. A story too good to not be capitalized on the big screen. As the movie informed us as the end credits were prepared to roll, Rudy would become the first and only player ever to be carried off the field on the shoulders of his teammates. Why did he receive so much love? Because he was the perfect underdog! Rudy may have been considered too small, but he made up for it with his character and true heart. He made the practice squad, and his desire and hard work rubbed off on his team. So during the final minute of a meaningless game due to a huge blowout, Rudy was given the opportunity he grew up dreaming of: playing for the Fighting Irish. Rudy plays on the final kickoff, and because there is some extra time remaining, he stays in for one down and sacks the quarterback (Umm, this didn't really happen, but it made for a touching scene in the film!). The movie was also fictionalized in the sense that Coach Devine was seen as the villain who would only put Rudy in due to the pressure from the rest of his team and the shouts from the crowd ("Rudy! Rudy!). Yet, he had actually agreed days earlier to allow Rudy to dress for the game and was never threatened by his players that they would not play on Saturday if Rudy didn't get to suit up as shown in the film. He originally was okay being portrayed as the anti-hero to make for a better drama, but upon seeing how dramatized the final scene was, Devine was not happy. That's Hollywood for you!

The musical arrangement provided by Goldsmith is so beautiful, and even makes the manly man cry. It might be simple and formulaic, but that's okay with me! I can't imagine any other song that works for the moment when that game ends with Rudy receiving so much love from the crowd, his teammates, and of course his family. Would a power ballad or sports-themed anthem like One Shining Moment have worked better? Absolutely not! It's the classic score of Goldsmith's that really hits you like a ton of bricks and gets the best of your emotions. Those flutes and soft vocals are a good combination especially when the tempo picks up throughout the song. I can hear this musical artistry, and tears automatically fill my eyes and makes me think I can do anything!! Surprisingly, the Rudy score was not even nominated for an Oscar, even though it has become a favorite for most sports movie fans and Generation X. The fact that it's always used in movie trailers to promote other movies and of course in professional sports montages goes to show you how powerful this music is. There may not be a more inspirational movie score then Jerry Goldsmith's score for Rudy!

Ladies and gentlemen... #21 Rudy (Main Title/The Final Game) by Jerry Goldsmith

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