Home > Greatest Scores of the Twentieth Century, Reviews > THE MIRACLE OF OUR LADY OF FATIMA – Max Steiner



Original Review by Craig Lysy

It had been eight years since the commercial and critical success of 20th Century Fox’s religious themed film The Song of Bernadette. Warner Brothers Studios executives decided that they wanted to explore the genre and decided that a similar tale, The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima, would accomplish that end. Their resident producer Bryan Foy was assigned the project, James O’Hanlon and Crane Wilbur were hired to write the screenplay, and John Brahm was tasked with directing. A trio of children were hired to play the roles of the child witnesses of the vision; Susan Whitney as Lúcia dos Santos, Sherry Jackson as Jacinta Marto and Sammy Ogg as Francisco Marto. Joining them would be Gilbert Roland as Hugo de Silva, Angela Clarke as Maria Rosa de Silva, and Richard Hale as Father Ferreira.

The story is set in Portugal in the turbulent years following the 1910 revolution by the leftist Republican Party, which violently overthrew the monarchy, and established a socialist Republic, unleashing an oppressive police state that began a secular assault on the Catholic Church. In 1917, in the small rural town of Fatima, three children tending their flock at Cova da Iria see a vision of a mysterious Lady. When they relate their visions, they receive a backlash from Lúcia’s mother, the parish priest and local authorities. The vision serves as a pretext for provincial administrator Artur Santos to close the town’s church and arrest the children. Yet he releases them as he cannot find anything for which they can be prosecuted. The Lady again appears to the children, and this time crowds witness “The Miracle of the Sun”, which appears to move closer to earth. The Lady foretells the end of WWI, the coming of a far worse WWII, and advocates prayer, repentance and the conversion of Russia. The film closes years later with Lúcia paying with Hugo in the new basilica build at Cova da Iria to commemorate the miracle. The film received one Academy Award nomination for Best Film Score.

Max Steiner was Warner’s Director of Music, and personally took the reins for scoring the film. Yet he soon became agitated, fearing criticism from the Catholic church. In his private notes he stated “harps and pianos are going ‘mad’ on account of the picture being ‘so-so’”. Despite this, he was assiduous in his research of traditional Catholic hymns of veneration to the Virgin Mary, some of which he interpolated into his compositions, including; “Salve Regina” by Franz Schubert, “Tis the Month of Our Mother” by Louis Lambillotte, “Ave Maria” by Johan Sebastian Bach and Charles Gounod, the traditional “Regina Caeli”, “O Queen of The Holy Rosary” by Emily Shapcote, “Magnificant”, and “Ave Ver Virginitas” by Josquin des Perez. Additionally, musicologists have noted a similarity of his Main Theme, with its “octave leaping majesty,” to Richard Strauss’s “Also Sprach Zarathustra”. Also, Steiner understood that to evoke the ethereal wonder, awe and solemnity of the vision, he would have to rely heavily on chorale.

For his soundscape Steiner employed his usual methodology of using leitmotifs, with ten themes provided; the Fatima Theme speaks to miracle that took place here in 1917. It offers a grand, fortissimo religioso declaration by unison bass clarinet, bassoons, bass saxophone, organ solenne, celli, French horns and trombones. The Lady Theme, supports the appearance of the Virgin Mary. It is borne by trombones and trumpets brillante, celestial violins, woodwinds solenne, vibraphone, celeste, organ, and ethereal wordless women’s choir, draped with shifting reverential chords. Embellishment with harp adornment joins to achieve a stirring and magnificent religioso confluence. A diminuendo of serenity brings forth a solo oboe d’amore, which makes her emotionally accessible to the children. The Children’s Theme supports Lúcia, Jacinta and Francisco offering child-like innocence and playfulness with a happy-go-lucky musical narrative born by strings felice and bubbling woodwinds of delight. Lúcia’s Theme speaks of her innocence, purity and truthfulness, offering statements by flutes and oboes delicato, and violins, sometimes shifting to violas, celli, English horn, and clarinets. Maria Rosa’s Theme supports Lúcia’s mother. She is very loving and protective of Lúcia, but fears her story will harm her, the family and their church. It is borne by maternal strings and woodwinds, but when she is distressed or frantic, horns and trumpets rise up for a stronger iteration. The Feast Theme offers a danza festivo borne by mandolin, guitars, accordion, tambourine, drums and woodwinds, which supports the merriment of the celebrating towns folk.

For themes of oppression and antagonism we have the Revolt Theme, which speaks to the leftist secularist revolution that toppled the Portuguese monarchy. It offers a harsh and menacing six-note figure empowered by trombones and trumpets bellicoso. Later in this film as the new government wields power, I change its name to the Government Theme as it ceases to embody rebellion, but instead, state oppression. The Persecution Theme speaks to the persecution and imprisonment of thousands of bishops, priests and nuns by the new regime, which seeks to eliminate the Catholic church’s grip on the people and secularize the state. Steiner supports with strings doloroso and English horn to speak to their anguish and degradation. Lastly, the Danger Theme offers an ominous and threatening musical narrative borne by clarinet, bassoons and timpani, which speak to the ever-present threat to clergy and believers by the oppressive new regime for any public demonstration of faith or opposition to government policies.

There is no commercial release of the film score, as such I will use scene descriptors and film time indices. We commence with score highlights as Steiner opens the film and immediately establishes with reverence, and solemnity the film’s religiosity. 00:00 “Studio Logo” Steiner abandons his iconic Warner Brothers anthem, instead using a grand fortissimo declaration of his Fatima Theme by horns reverenziale. At 0:11 the “Main Title” commence sustained by the Fatima Theme until 00:22 when mixed wordless choir offer a stirring religioso rendering of Johan Sebastian Bach’s “Jesu Der Su Meine Seele”. At 01:14 we flow with violence into the film proper, “Revolution of 1910”, as we bear witness to revolutionaries declaring the king has fled the country and his loyalist supporters have been killed. Steiner empowers the jubilant mob with his Revolt Theme, a six-note figure declared by trombones and trumpets bellicoso. Steiner sows a dire musical narrative full of anger, violence and retribution as war against the church is declared. At 2:33 strings doloroso and English horn introduce anguish of the Persecution Theme as nuns looking at an official poster declaring that priests and nuns ar forbidden to wear religious garb in public under penalty of imprisonment. We see many rounded up and photographed like common criminal.

03:16 “1917” provides narration revealing the perseverance of the faithful, the easing of persecution, and the reopening of churches in rural small towns. Steiner marks this passage Andante Religioso, supporting with organ, woodwinds and strings solenne. 05:31 “Hugo and Antonio” reveals a pub, where Hugo, a conman, tries to convince Antonio to sell his land and join him to open a fishing business on the coast. He refuses, and flees as his wife exits mass. A soft organ reverenziali supports under the dialogue, as well as the departure of Maria Rosa dos Santos and daughters. She is angry with Antonio’s drinking and missing mass, and goes to hunt him down. 08:09 “Hugo Tells Stories”, reveals Hugo gifting stolen apples to Lúcia, Jacinta and Francisco and telling them fantastical tales. Steiner introduces the playful innocence of his Children’s Theme as they walk, a pastorale born by flute tenero, violins and celeste. 08:37 “Hugo and Father Ferreira” reveals Hugo riding a mule through town and greeting Father Ferreira. His plucky happy-go-lucky theme carried by oboe spensierto and his whistling. Woodwinds join and his theme takes on a playful, albeit mischievous tone as he tries to hustle him, offering to buy wine for the church. He agrees provided he can collect the parishioner’s donation, to which Father declines. As he rides away a playful piccolo and flute comici carry his progress.

09:35 “Red Apron” reveals Francisco playing a wooden flute pastorale as Lúcia and Jacinta tend to the flock of sheep. Strings gentile and harp adornment join as we see a ram walking on the hill. At 1:02 the Children’s Theme becomes mischievous and playful as Francisco steels Jacinta’s red apron and begins taunting the ram. She cries as the ram runs off with her apron, but comforting strings support Francisco consoling her and gifting her his apple. Lúcia orders that they pray before eating, but the others insist on the short version, and they shout out in unison “Hail Mary” twice. The second shout elicits a thunderclap, crowned with an ethereal chord religioso at 11:14 in “Thunder and Lightning”, which frightens them, causing them to flee home. As lightning flashes at 11:39, a fortissimo, organ empowered chord supports lightning strikes, which frighten the children, who are perplexed by the clear skies. Foreboding low register woodwinds, vibraphone and organ carry their run. At 12:00 we come to a stirring religioso score highlight “First Visitation”.

Lúcia and Jacinta are stunned, turn their back, and cower when they see the image of a Lady appear from out the mist, as Francisco asks them what they have seen. The Lady Theme, borne by trombones and trumpets brillante, violins and woodwinds solenne, vibraphone, celeste, organ, and ethereal wordless women’s choir, draped with shifting reverential chords and harp adornment, join to achieve a stirring and magnificent religioso confluence. A diminuendo of serenity brings forth a solo oboe d’amore, which supports the Lady who speaks; “Don’t be afraid, I won’t hurt you. Come closer.” The children turn, and approach and she says; “There, that’s better. You’re not frightened now, are you?”, supported by a harp arpeggio. When Lúcia asks where she is from, the Lady answers; “I am from heaven.” Steiner supports the revelation with the hymn “Tis the Month of Our Mother” borne by a choir of flutes and clarinets reverenziale with celeste and harp adornment. Francisco still does not see her, and the Lady tells Jacinta to have him say the rosary so he too may see her.

When Lúcia asks what does the Lady want from her, she answers; “Come here for six months in succession, on the thirteenth day at the same hour. Then I will tell you who I am, and what I want.” When Lúcia asks if she, Jacinta and Francisco will go to heaven? The Lady answers “Yes, you and Jacinta will, as will Francisco if he says many rosaries.” At this point Francisco, who had been praying, now sees the Lady. Organ solenne and celeste with harp adornment supports as the Lady asks; “Do you wish to offer yourself to God? To endure all the suffering He may please to send you? To help atone for the sins by which He is offended? And to ask for the conversion of sinners?” The children agree, supported by the child-like innocence of flute tenero and celeste. The Lady adds; “Then you will have much to suffer. But the grace of God will be your comfort.” A violin d’amore voices the Lady’s happiness from their commitment. She counsels the children; “Say the rosary every day to obtain peace in the world, and to end the war.”

Steiner supports the Lady vanishing with a beautiful radiant ascent by celeste, harp, cello, harp, and oboe d’amore. The confluence of film narrative, and music is magnificent, and offers one of Steiner’s greatest cinematic passages, a testament to his genius and supreme gift. 15:19 “Hugo Hears of The Lady” reveals him riding through town whistling his theme as the children return with their flock. They ignore his greeting, causing him to stop and engage them. Jacinta relates her experience of the Lady to an incredulous Hugo. The dire Danger Theme joins on low register strings as he warns them not to disclose their story to anyone. At 17:47 a playful Children’s Theme borne by celeste piano and flutes support their departure, becoming animated later when greeting of their parents coming home at night with a pig, they’ll cook for the feast tomorrow. In unscored scenes, Jacinta tells her family of her vision, which results in an uproar in town, and the dos Santos house where Lúcia is slapped by her angry mother. Later, Father Ferreira dismisses Lúcia’s parent’s concern.

23:26 “Journey To The Feast” reveals the Martos parents departing for the feast by wagon, as Jacinta and Francisco decline to fulfill their promise to the Lady. Spritely strings offer trotting travel music, which carries their departure. Strings doloroso enter as a heart broken Lúcia tells Jacinta and Francisco to tell the Lady that her mother forbids her to come. At 23:58 oboes, celeste and violins are joined by strings tristi as Lúcia grieves. At 24:28 strings religioso with harp adornment join when Lúcia’ parents are taken aback after a man stops their cart and asks where lies the cova, as they have come to see the Virgin Mary. The music darkens as Maria Rosa rages against this false news and chastises the man. As they depart the traveling motif supports. 25:07 “St. Anthony Feast Day” reveals a danza festivo borne by mandolin, guitars, accordion, tambourine, drums and woodwinds as we see the town square filled with people arriving for the feast, and later dancing. At 26:26 Father Ferreira comforts Senora Carreira whose son is crippled, in church supported by Franz Shubert’s solemn hymn “Salve Regina” (1816), sung by children’s choir. The choral hymn is sustained to support the procession of children departing the church and the blessing of the bread.

29:30 “The Administrator Arrives” reveals administrator Arturo de Oliveira Santos and the Captain of Police arriving, supported powerfully with dire horns, and strings irato voicing an ominous Government Theme. Menacing tremolo strings support Arturo’s threats to Father Ferreira to reveal the children, shifting to an agitato as he denies complicity with their claims. Tension mounts and shifts to a threatening iteration as Arturo moves into the crowd looking for Lúcia, and threatens those who hide her identity. At 32:40 Hugo, supported by his playful theme intervenes to stop a girl from exposing Lúcia. The music darkens as Lúcia is shielded by her mother, but Hugo diverts Arturo’s attention by falsely accusing the girl who was going to betray her. A grave musical narrative follows as Hugo departs town with Lúcia to prevent her arrest. At 34:18 his playful theme carries their departure on his donkey, with him agreeing to take her to the cova.

34:34 “The Cova” reveals Jacinta and Francisco waiting at the cova, with many other people around them. Woodwinds religioso offer a soothing ambiance that juxtaposes the anxiety seen on the children’s faces. 35:36 “Second Visitation” reveals the second visitation by the Lady, another score highlight, supported chorally and orchestrally with a reprise of the radiant, ethereal magnificence of the Lady Theme. The Lady declares to the children; “Jesus wishes to use you to make me known and loved. He wishes to establish throughout the world devotion to me. So you must learn to read and write in order that you may covey his message.” She grants Lúcia’s wish to heal the Carreira boy, and then advises that she will soon take Jacinta and Francisco with her to heaven, with a promise to take her later. At 37:05 an heart-aching musical narrative unfolds as a tearful Lúcia begs that her friends not be taken from her. Yet the music brightens with celestial harp and violins d’amore as the Lady assuages her fears, promising “I will never abandon you. My immaculate heart will be your refuge, and the path that leads you to God.”

She disappears at 38:26 carried by celestial harps, violins d’amore, celli and English horn. 38:51 “Lúcia Weeps” reveals her weeping at the news that she will soon lose Jacinta and Francisco as Hugo comforts her. Aching strings doloroso support her heartache and a sad musical narrative unfolds as Hugo tries to cheer them up with another story as his donkey carries the children away. 39:53 “Hugo’s Arrest” reveals the children brought in for interrogation by Father Ferreira. Outside Hugo argues with, and chastises the townsfolk for their gossip. Steiner supports under the dialogue with a musical narrative of by strings and woodwinds gentile. Yet at 41:24 a mischievous flute led Hugo’s Theme joins as the revelation that thousands will attend next month elicits a scheme for him to make money. He proposes a business scheme with Antonio, who owns the land, to charge an admission fee. At 42:25 the music darkens as the police issue Hugo an arrest warrant for obstruction of justice. A silly piccolo supports as a policeman escorts Hugo to jail. In an unscored scene Lúcia persists in her story, swearing she is truthful to Father Ferreira. He believes that she saw something, but is unsure if it was sent by heaven, or hell. He sends the children away and prepares to depart to consult with his bishop.

45:49 “Lúcia Is Restless” reveals she cannot sleep and seeks out her mother. Aching violins, organ, pizzicato bass and piano offer a subtle agitato to support the scene, with a violin d’amore voicing maternal love as she takes her daughter into her bed to comfort her. Ethereal textures with celestial harp adornment join as Lúcia worries about Father Ferreira’s concerns, voicing that she wished others could see the Lady as she did. An aching crescendo supports a kissing embrace as Lúcia promises to never see the Lady again, informing her mother that she does not want her to hate her. 48:12 “Church Closure” a dire statement by horns and woodwinds supports the posting of a proclamation declaring the closure of the church. Anger surges as people confront the soldiers, demanding they open their church, yet this dissipates as Father Ferreira intervenes and diffuses the crowd. Later a tense confrontation between the administrator and Father Ferreira occurs, with Arturo offering to reopen the church if Father Ferreira can guarantee no one will visit the cova on the 13th. Three dire chords at 50:27 support Arturo’s departure.

52:05 “Lúcia’s Discontent” reveals that thousands of people have arrived at Fatima and inside the house an argument erupts between the families over what to do. Strings religioso and oboe evoke the Lady Theme, which carry a distraught Lúcia into her bedroom. This unleashes a grim musical narrative full of anger as Manuel Marto forcibly declares that Jacinta and Francisco will be at the cova tomorrow as he storms out. 52:40 “Lúcia Runs to the Cova” reveals that Lúcia is distraught and cannot sleep. Steiner supports with tremolo strings and harp figures, which usher in an appassionato rendering of three hymns, which carry Lúcia’s flight to the cova; “Ave Maria” by Bach-Gounod, the “Tis the Month of Our Mother”, concluding with the “Amen” motif. At the cova she fervently beseeches the Lady to help her reconcile her commands with the opposing commands of her mother. Pleading strings support her anguish, plunging in despair as she collapses and falls asleep.

54:41 “Lúcia is Missing” reveals Lúcia is nowhere to be found. Maria Rosa panics and orders the family to go out and search for her. Steiner sow tension with strings full of distress as Maria Rosa searches in a town now filled with pilgrims. 56:59 “At The Cova” reveals men bring wood to construct an arch and discovering Lúcia asleep. Lúcia’s Theme borne by oboes, flutes and violins support her discovery. As word spreads the music surges dramatically as people run to catch a glimpse of her. At 58:12 a frantic Maria Rosa’s Theme propels her through the crowd to rescue her daughter. At 58:45 we see thousands of pilgrims covering the countryside, as the camera pans revealing hopeful and penitent faces. Steiner supports solemnly with a stirring strings religioso musical narrative. 59:41 “Father Ferreira’s Arrest” offers tremolo violins, which usher in horns solenne as Father Ferreira arrives and exhorts the crowds to go home. At 1:00:21 the administrator and soldiers arrive and arrest Father Ferreira empowered by a dire Government Theme. Thirsting strings of hope surge as the children are escorted to the arch.

1:01:30 “Soldiers Attack” reveals Lúcia asking the Lady if she was here. Flutes tenero usher in strings solenne as the many faces in the crowd wait with anticipation. At 1:02:07 a violin d’amore supports the children kneeling. An ominous Government Theme joins as the administrator orders his soldiers to disperse the crowd and retrieve the children. As the soldiers ride into the crowd the Government Theme militarizes atop strings bellicoso and martial horns. Steiner unleashes a maelstrom of violence as the crowd fights back and pulls down the cavalrymen. Sensing defeat, the administrator calls off the attack and orders a retreat, departing in his car. 1:03:41 “Third Visitation” reveals the children returning carried by celestial harps. Lúcia again asks the Lady if she was here and ethereal wordless women’s choir voice the Lady’s Theme to support her return. She speaks: “You are enduring these hardships for the conversion of sinners, as atonement for sins committed against god. If the people do not cease to offend him, another and worse war will break out. When you see a night with a strange light in the sky, you will know that it is a sign that the world is about to be punished for its crimes. In Russia there is an evil scheme to destroy the peace of the earth. To prevent this, I ask that she be consecrated to the Virgin Mary. If this is done, she will be converted. If not, she will cause wars and persecutions. Good people will be martyred. Many nations shall be destroyed. If what I say is heeded, many souls will be saved. And there will be peace. It is necessary that people amend their lives. Let them offend our lord god no more. He is already much offended.” Celeste and harp join as Lúcia says that the people cannot hear her words and do not believe. The Lady replies; “In October I will give them a sign that will make them believe”. Steiner supports with an oboe d’amore, ethereal strings, organ and cello offering “Tis The Month of Our Mother” hymn as she vanishes. 1:05:57 “Regina Caeli” a profoundly moving score highlight. It reveals Lúcia singing the hymn, soon joined by the mixed chorus by the crowd for a stirring molto religioso rendering.

1:07:19 “Ministry of Police” offers an ominous declaration of the Government Theme as we see the building exterior. Inside the Magistrate rebukes administrator de Oliveira Santos on his ineptitude in managing the Fatima problem. He counsels him on a plan to address the next incident scheduled for August 13th. Later, the administrator shows up at the dos Santos home and informs them that Father Ferreira has been released, and that they are to bring the children to his house for an interview with the bishop. He departs with the children in his car, but instead of taking them to the bishop, he plans on taking them to the police station for interrogation. Steiner sow menace using a dire Government Theme for their departure. The children enjoy the ride and at 1:11:08 woodwinds felice voice the Children’s Theme. At 1:11:23 dire chords join the Children’s Theme as a frantic Lúcia notices that they have missed the turnout to Father Ferreira’s house. As they continue, a dire Government Theme extinguishes the Children’s Theme, ending with portentous horns.

1:11:46 “Where Are the Children” opens with a solemn rendering of the Lady Theme, which sours as strife rises among the people demanding to know where are the children. At 1:12:16 Steiner sow distress as the families arrive at Father Ferreira’s house and become distraught when it is revealed that the bishop is not here, and that the administrator lied to them. As Father Ferreira goes outside to address an angry crowd a crescendo irato surges. His efforts to assuage their anger fails, and they instead agree to follow Maria Rosa to the Ministry of Police, empowered by a swelling musical narrative of outrage. 1:13:40 “The Interrogation” opens with a menacing Government Theme. Inside the Magistrate calls them liars and threatens them with imprisonment if they do not confess that Father Ferreira ordered them to say these lies. When they persist in their story, he tries to bribe them by offering to buy them, new clothes and sweets. When this fails, the administrator threatens to boil them in oil. They refuse to lie, and he orders a guard to take Jacinta away. Soon a horrific scream is heard, the guard returns, says it is over, and then takes Francisco away. The administer threatens Lúcia’s with action against her father, and this too fails. He is frustrated, drags her away, and reunites her with Jacinta and Francisco. He then orders them into a prison cell with a group of criminals. They are scared but soon discover Hugo, who consoles them. The children request the prisoners pray with them, and with Hugo’s coercion, they do, much to the guard’s amazement as he too joins in prayer. As a large crowd prays outside, the Administrator and Magistrate blink, and decide to release the children, believing that when no miracle happens, the people will reject them.

1:25:27 “The Children Ride Home” reveals a large procession led by Hugo and the families, with the children riding home on donkeys. Steiner supports with a reverential rendering by mixed choir singing the “O Queen of The Holy Rosary” Hymn. 1:26:55 “Hugo Sells Rosaries #1” reveals Hugo, ever the opportunist, selling rosaries to pilgrims passing by to witness the miracle, tomorrow October 13th. Steiner supports with his playful theme with a retinue of woodwinds celeste and organ. The bishop interrogates Lúcia, but she will not recant. Music enters at 1:29:17 when she tearfully professes “I Haven’t Sinned”, supported orchestrally by a solemn, yet heartful rendering of the “Ave Maria” hymn. Lúcia weeps, but gains the support of her parents who say they believe her, and will accompany her tomorrow. 1:30:09 reveals crowds wadding through the mud under pouring rain, supported by beleaguered strings. 1:30:09 “Hugo Sells Rosaries #2” reprises his playful theme as he again stands roadside selling rosaries to the passing pilgrims. 1:30:52 “The Children Depart” reveals the families escorting the children to the cova carried joyfully by strings felice. 1:31:38 “Hugo Sells Rosaries #3” shows the irrepressible Hugo again peddling his rosaries along the roadside, supported by his playful theme. Hugo makes a sale and then turns to see the approach of the children. His theme blossoms as he declares he is their personal friend. 1:31:21 a foreboding musical narrative unfolds as the sun passes behind the clouds and a downpour begins.

1:33:08 “The Final Visitation” reveals a violin d’amore carrying the children to the arch where Father Ferreira tries one last time to dissuade, to no avail. Tension mounts as he and the crowd wait for 12:00 noon. In their car the administrator and magistrate gloat as the crowd becomes restive and hostile. At 1:35:00 wordless ethereal women’s voices, flute delicato, celestial violins and vibraphone offer the Lady Theme, which portends the arrival of the Lady. As she arrives a tender and maternal violin d’amore supports. She announces; “That the war is going to end soon, and the soldiers will return to their homes. Do not fear. In the end, God will triumph.” Lúcia asks who she is, and the lady replies; “I am the Lady of the Rosary”.

Steiner sow an escalating groundswell of anger as the crowd’s frustration swells and they push forward, saying they see and hear nothing. At 1:36:02 strings brillante support Lúcia’s reminding the Lady that she promised a miracle so the people would believe. 1:36:10 “The Miracle” offers a magnificent score highlight as the Lady lifts her arm up to the heavens. This unleashes a crescendo magnifico empowered by harp glissandi, ethereal strings, joined by trumpets and horns brillante. We bear witness to the sun breaking through the clouds, descending, and shifting through the rainbow of colors, leaving everyone, initially awestruck. When as the sun moves ever closer, they begin fleeing in terror, believing that the world is ending. Yet at 1:37:15 warm strings d’amore support a blind woman declaring that she can now see, followed by the Carreira boy discovering that he is no longer lame. Ethereal womens choir raise their voices when the people begin declaring a miracle, as Father Ferreira blesses the crowds. We culminate with a profound religioso grandeur as the people pray and rejoice as the sun returns upwards. At 1:38:22 the people realize their clothes and the ground are dry and a paean born by thankful strings religioso support the people’s joy.

1:38:58 “Finale” reveals narration saying that the cova’s simple wooden arch has today been replaced by a magnificent basilica, and that in 1951 one million people gathered to give homage to our Lady of Fatima. The commemoration ceremony is supported by a profoundly moving series of liturgical hymns of reverence, and veneration. At 1:40:39 narration states that in the cathedral, Jacinta and Franciso rest in eternal peace. Years later Lúcia is joined at their tombs by Hugo, and she counsels him that if people of the world pray as Our Lady asked, then God will send us peace. As they walk away, Steiner closes the film with reverence as women’s choir sings the hymns “Ave Maria”, “Magnificant”, “Ave Ver Virginitas”, “Tis The Month of Our Mother”, with a coda by the “Amen” figure.

For me it is a tragedy that Max Steiner’s stirring and magnificent religioso score for “The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima” has no commercial release. I sincerely hope that a label finds the resources necessary to re-record this masterpiece of the religious film genre. Steiner realized that the film offered a profound transformative testament of faith witnessed by three children, and ultimately thousands. To that end he researched Catholic Marian hymns, and interpolated them into his soundscape to provide the necessary religiosity. He also understood that his music would have to empower, venerate and express the grandeur and magnificence of the Lady’s visitations, and the “Miracle of the Sun”. His music for these scenes offers masterpiece cues with some of the finest and most inspiring music written in his distinguished career. In my judgement, a profound confluence of music and film narrative was achieved during the three visitation scenes, and the “Miracle of the Sun” scene. I cannot overstate the magnificence and grandeur of Steiner’s music for these scenes, which powerfully and profoundly elevated this film. The carefree joie de vie of the Children’s Theme humanized and endeared them to us, as did the irreverent conman Hugo’s playful Theme. Juxtaposed were the three antagonistic and oppressive themes attached to the government and its officers, who sought to eliminate the Catholic churches’ hold on the people, and suppress the children’s testament. Folks, I believe this score is a Steiner masterpiece, which merited its Academy Award nomination. It offers a testament to his genius, and mastery of his craft, transcending the film to which it was attached. Until such time as a re-recording is made, I encourage you to hear his handiwork in film context for an unforgettable experience.

For those of you unfamiliar with the score, I have embedded a YouTube link to the stirring Lady Theme: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTw3hH3UrPM

Track Listing:


Music composed and conducted by Max Steiner. Orchestrations by Murray Cutter, Sidney Cutner and Leo Shuken. Recorded and mixed by XXXX. Score produced by Max Steiner.

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