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Bridge Of Spies by Thomas Newman (Review)

posted Oct 24, 2015, 9:50 PM by Koray Savas

Bridge Of Spies is Steven Spielberg's latest political thriller. Each one of his films brings some expectations to the table as they are announced and enter production, one of the most obvious aspects being the original music by John Williams. However, due to an unfortunate combination of health issues and scheduling, Bridge Of Spies is the first Spielberg film in 30 years without a John Williams score. Enter Thomas Newman, who was personally recommended by Williams to score the movie.

Those familiar with Thomas Newman know that his sound is instantly recognizable. While he does not bring anything substantially new to Bridge Of Spies, the score is still rich with his signature pathos and instrumentation. Simple and straightforward upon first listen, the score has a few layers to peel back that keeps it fresh with each visit. The lack of an overarching theme prevents it from becoming one of his greats, but there is still much to explore and enjoy here. The album is sequenced in an interesting manner that places half of the score in the first twelve tracks, and the other half in the last three. It is in these final cues where Newman showcases his undying ability to understand and accentuate dramatic filmmaking. 

It goes against his typical musical structures of short yet underlined cues, but his long form writing still retains the emotional depth that listeners have come to expect. "Glienicke Bridge" approaches 11 minutes and is possibly the longest cue Newman has ever written. It starts off with trickling piano and strings, after which it moves into an ominous passage before it builds into a climactic ending with militaristic drums and brass. "Homecoming" serves as a suite of sorts for the melancholic writing that can be found throughout for the first half of the score. This is the material that is not particularly new, but it is enjoyable nonetheless. Lastly, "Bridge Of Spies (End Title)" is the score's highlight. Boisterous male choir and percussion are coupled with Newman's standard quirky rhythms to create a truly unique finale for the score.

Bridge Of Spies may not be wholly original in style and execution, but it never fails to elicit the emotions that Thomas Newman is able to weave into his writing. The absence of a unifying theme holds it back, but it is always a pleasure to listen to. Despite the lackluster first half, the final cues are worthy of many repeated listens.