It may not be as good as the first film, but Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom doesn’t deserve some of the criticism it has picked up over the years. It’s still an immensely enjoyable adventure, regardless of its negative aspects. The film saw the return of most of the crew from Raiders of the Lost Ark, which included composer John Williams, ready to build upon his already classic score for that earlier film.
The score starts out in a somewhat unusual, but very enjoyable fashion with Capshaw’s Chinese performance of Cole Porter’s ‘Anything Goes’. After that, Williams gets to work presenting his themes, of which there are plenty. Perhaps the best of them is “Short Round’s Theme”, a fantastic fully orchestral march which makes many appearances throughout the film, always to great effect. The other is the new love theme for Indy and Willie Scott, which is first introduced properly in “Nocturnal Activities”. As you’d expect for an Indiana Jones score, much of the music is action-oriented, and Williams skillfully flits between the comedic and more serious elements throughout the score. What sets the score for this film apart from the others is the fact that its themes aren’t carried over in the scores for the two subsequent films, and it also remains the only Indy score not to feature the theme for the Ark of the Covenant.
The first two orchestral tracks are rather dark and serious. The first comedic element to the score comes in “Fast Streets of Shanghai”, where the character of Short Round first appears and is introduced with the first appearance of his theme at 0:20, though its only brief. This track also features the first appearance of the Raiders march we know and love, which is played as Indy escapes on a plane, unaware that the plane is owned by the villain he’s just escaped from. The next track “Map/Out of Fuel” starts with the Raiders march once again, and then gives us the first introduction to the love theme. This is brief; the music then changes to a villainous tone as the two pilots dump the fuel and escape using parachutes. The rest of the track has a sense of desperation as the characters try to find a way to escape before the aircraft crashes. The next track “Slalom on Mt.Humol” accompanies the scene where they jump out of the plane on an inflatable rubber boat, then go flying of a cliff before finally settling in a river in India.
The theme for the character of Short Round is certainly one of the most enjoyable of any of the Indy themes, and is heard at its best in the end credits suite. It’s a wonderful piece full of life and heroism, certainly one of Williams’ finest compositions. ”Nocturnal Activities” is another classic piece, giving a proper introduction to the score’s love theme, heard throughout much of this particular track in a comedic fashion, though it gets a little more serious as an assassin appears and attempts to kill the title character, though the comedic elements remain as Willie screams at Indy through a closed door for not coming to her, unaware that someone attempting to strangle him was the cause. Perhaps the two best tracks are “Slave Children’s Crusade” and “Short Round Helps”. The first one is dominated by Short Round’s theme, the second by Indy’s, as the two characters help each other to overcome the evil forces. The final two action tracks are “The Mine Car Chase” and “The Broken Bridge”, both of which are an immensely enjoyable listening experience.
As with most of Williams’ scores, the album concludes with a suite of the main themes presented in concert fashion; a most satisfying end to a marvelous score. All four of Williams’ Indiana Jones scores are superb, but for me, this is the best of them all, a score full of the reasons that have kept the composer at the top of his profession for nearly half a century. Seek on the 2008 Concord album without hesitation.
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1. Anything Goes – performed by Kate Capshaw (2:51)
2. Indy Negotiates (3:59)
3. The Nightclub Brawl (2:32)
4. Fast Streets of Shanghai (3:39)
5. Map/Out of Fuel (3:22)
6. Slalom on Mt. Humol (2:24)
7. Short Round’s Theme (2:29)
8. The Scroll/To Pankot Palace (4:26)
9. Nocturnal Activities (5:54)
10. Bug Tunnel/Death Trap (3:31)
11. Approaching the Stones (2:39)
12. Children in Chains (2:42)
13. The Temple of Doom (2:58)
14. Short Round Escapes (2:22)
15. Saving Willie (3:35)
16. Slave Children’s Crusade (3:23)
17. Short Round Helps (4:49)
18. The Mine Car Chase (3:41)
19. Water! (1:55)
20. The Sword Trick (1:05)
21. The Broken Bridge/British Relief (4:47)
22. End Credits (6:19)
Total Time: 75 minutes
Music Composed, Conducted & Produced by John Williams
Orchestrations by Herbert Spencer & Alexander Courage
The score was nominated for an Academy Award
The album’s liner notes contain brief notes from the composer and director and extensive photography.
All images and artwork are Copyright © Concord Records