Mark Isham is truly one of the most versatile composers and he is definitely considered one of the greats. His impressive filmography spans many great films like The Hitcher, Point Break, A River Runs Through It, Of Mice And Men, Short Cuts, Blade, his Oscar nominated score for Crash among many others. He can handle the most heartwarming material such as Dolphin Tale, go fanciful with the ABC series Once Upon A Time and now he tackles human triumph in 42. The story of Jackie Robinson is not just a sports movie, it’s a film about a man’s struggle in a time where racism was part of everyday life. Jackie Robinson’s story is one of overcoming societal barricades and dealing with the inner struggle that comes with it. Isham truly paints the portrait of the man and his journey beautifully through music.
42 is a character driven score. You feel the presence of Robinson in the music, and it’s clearly his story. The music starts off soft yet hopeful. There’s a fragile quality to the feel of it, but you can feel a sense of power behind every note. Isham infuses a bit of Americana into the score and that allows the character moments to grow into something bigger and carry more emotional weight. The music gains confidence as the narrative progresses, but as Robinson hits obstacles in the film so does the music. You can feel the music try and break through, and towards the final act it truly does. It does so in the most delicate way possible though. This score is not Rudy or Remember The Titans. There is a reserved accomplished feel to the way the score wraps everything up. There are definitely moments of triumph and moments of cheer in the music, but Isham never makes a spectacle of the story. He treats it with dignity and care, and in the end you get those warm goosebumps as the music leaves an inspirational hopefulness in the air.
42 is a terrific score filled with strong character moments and true human triumph. Isham handles the material with a masterful approach and is able to deliver big moments without resulting to overly saturated emotions. Everything feels organic and true, and the touch of Americana helps bring the whole essence of the score into the spotlight. Mark Isham delivers another wonderful score with 42.
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