Munich (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Veteran film composer John Williams scored his second Academy Award nomination of 2005 (along with Memoirs of a Geisha) for this soundtrack to career collaborator Steven Spielberg's challenging tale of the Israeli government's program of revenge for the massacre of their Olympic team by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Munich games. In spirit, Williams' orchestral work here can seem the haunting godchild of Schindler's List, a film whose moral compass it seems to have reversed. The anguished vocals of Lisbeth Scott's "Munich, 1972" sets the score's tone, a minor-keyed cloud of gloom and regret in which heroism is a decidedly relative term. There are intriguing details throughout (Dean Parks' Spanish guitar imparts a classical elegance to "Avner's Theme," the zither of "Stalking Carl" further hone its nervous edge while "Letter Bombs" typifies Williams' way with suspense), but they never clutter the soundtrack's more overarching sense of dread. Employing arrangements where the basses groan like a mourner's chorus, the composer subtly evokes Jewish cultural and musical traditions throughout, turning Scott's chilling vocal performance on "Remembering Munich" into a sort of post-modern Kaddish and Israel's national anthem ("Hatikvah") into an autumnal theme of introspection.