Movie Music UK Awards 1989


  • BATMAN, music by Danny Elfman
  • FIELD OF DREAMS, music by James Horner
  • GLORY, music by James Horner
  • HENRY V, music by Patrick Doyle
  • INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE, music by John Williams

1989 was the best year of the decade by far for original film music – possibly one of the best ever, period – which made choosing a Score of the Year a near impossible task. In the end, I went with Danny Elfman’s BATMAN, purely because it so unexpected at the time. Hitherto, Elfman was the rock singer from Oingo Boingo and the composer of the bouncy, quirky music for Pee Wee and Beetlejuice; for him to unleash this epic Gothic orchestral masterpiece was just mind-bogglingly startling. The score essentially re-ignited and defined the superhero genre for a generation with its massive thematic content, intense and powerful action, and heightened emotion, and it was one of the earliest scores to capture my imagination as a child (I was 14 when the film came out).

I could easily have given the award to either of the two James Horner masterpieces from 1989. For the baseball drama FIELD OF DREAMS Horner wrote a score which was quiet, intimate, at times almost spectral in its atmospheric calmness. It made use of piano and synths augmented with a number of atmospheric woodwind instruments, alongside a smaller orchestral ensemble that becomes more prominent as the score develops towards its conclusion. There are four main themes and several recurring motifs running through the score, as well as a couple of standalone pieces for specific scenes. – until the finale, when Horner unleashes “The Place Where Dreams Come True,” which without a word of hyperbole I consider to be one of the single greatest pieces of film music ever written. Then, for GLORY, Horner wrote a rousing and emotional orchestral-and-choral epic for a story of triumph and sacrifice in the American Civil War; the score is, in my opinion, one of the most accomplished emotional scores of Horner’s entire career, a bonafide masterpiece that brings the lives and deaths of these men who gave up everything roaring into contemporary relevance. It doesn’t matter that this all happened 100 years or more before we were born; the hopes and fears and unrealized dreams of these men, and the things they stood for, are just as important today as they were in 1863, and Horner’s music plays a major part in allowing us to feel that.

INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE is the second sequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark, and saw John Williams in tremendous form, building on the music from the first two films as archaeologist Jones trots around the globe, bickering with his cantankerous father, as they search for the holy grail. Williams never took the series for granted, or treated the film like a lesser version of itself due to it being a third sequel; the expansive thematic content and the numerous brilliant action set-pieces make it very much its own musical animal, distinct enough to be original but close enough to the others to be clearly part of a series. Speaking personally, I have always placed the Grail theme, the Motorcycle scherzo, and the Nazi motif among my all-time favorite John Williams secondary themes, and hearing them get so much love and attention here is superbly gratifying.

Finally, in what remains one of the greatest debut scores in the history of cinema. Patrick Doyle roared onto the scene with his majestic score for Kenneth Branagh’s Shakespeare adaptation HENRY V. The score an enormous orchestral and choral work of great power and drama, a multi-themed blockbuster which – in the words of Branagh himself – grows to epic proportions: thunderous, full-blooded, and heroic in size. There are actually an astonishing seven recurring themes in the score, each of which perform a specific purpose, and the centerpiece of which is the setting of ‘Non Nobis Domine,’ the Latin lyrics of which are taken from Psalm 115 from the bible, and which the real Henry V ordered sung on the battlefield immediately following his victory at Agincourt. The melody, which is brand new and unique to this score, is rousing, celebratory, and unforgettable, one of the most glorious compositions of Doyle’s entire career.

In addition to the five listed above, the following could easily have made the final five in any other year: THE ABYSS (Alan Silvestri), ALWAYS (John Williams), BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY (John Williams), STAR TREK V: THE FINAL FRONTIER (Jerry Goldsmith), and STEEL MAGNOLIAS (Georges Delerue).

As well as those excellent scores, the following are also worthy of special mention: BLACK RAIN (Hans Zimmer), DRIVING MISS DAISY (Hans Zimmer), LONESOME DOVE (Basil Poledouris), LA RÉVOLUTION FRANCAISE (Georges Delerue), and TRIUMPH OF THE SPIRIT (Cliff Eidelman).




The quality and depth of JAMES HORNER’S work in 1989 was unsurpassed for me. Not only did he write two Score of the Year-quality works in Field of Dreams and Glory, he also wrote a raucous comedy-adventure score for the smash hit Honey I Shruk the Kids – the best comedy score of year – as well as a terrifically emotional score for the Ted Danson-Jack Lemmon family drama Dad, and a terrifically emotional score for the Vietnam-themed drama In Country, cementing his position as probably the premier emotion manipulator in all of Hollywood film music.

JOHN WILLIAMS scored a third Indiana Jones film, but augmented his work there with two other awards caliber efforts: the light, wistful emotional score for Steven Spielberg’s afterlife drama Always, and a much more intense and harrowing drama score for the Vietnam drama Born on the Fourth of July, the latter of which makes use of some magnificent and outstanding writing for solo trumpet. Similarly, JERRY GOLDSMITH wrote the best sci-fi score of the year for the fifth Star Trek film, The Final Frontier, but also excelled across several genres: his work included the undersea action horror Leviathan, the paranoid comedy The Burbs, and the legal thriller Criminal Law.

DANNY ELFMAN gets on the list purely on the strength of Batman, but he also found time to pen the theme for the three new TV series: the animated comedy The Simpsons, the horror anthology Tales from the Crypt, and the animated spinoff from his own earlier movie, Beetlejuice. Finally, German wunderkind HANS ZIMMER built on the success of his 1988 breakthrough score Rain Main with a handful of excellent scores that showcased his innovation and versatility, ranging from the quirky southern charm of Driving Miss Daisy to the groundbreaking ‘power anthem’ style of the Japan-set cop thriller Black Rain.

Five other composers who also had excellent years in 1989 are: GEORGES DELERUE, PATRICK DOYLE, MICHAEL KAMEN, BASIL POLEDOURIS, and ALAN SILVESTRI.



  • “If You Asked Me To” from LICENCE TO KILL, written by Diane Warren, performed by Patti Labelle
  • “I Love To See You Smile” from PARENTHOOD, written and performed by Randy Newman
  • “On Our Own” from GHOSTBUSTERS II, written by L.A. Reid, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds and Daryl Simmons, performed by Bobby Brown
  • “The Girl Who Used To Be Me” from SHIRLEY VALENTINE written by Marvin Hamlisch, Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman, performed by Patti Austin
  • “Under The Sea” from THE LITTLE MERMAID, written by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, performed by Samuel E. Wright

Special mentions should also go to “After All” from CHANCES ARE, “Christmas Vacation” from NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION, “Licence to Kill” from LICENCE TO KILL, “Part of Your World” from THE LITTLE MERMAID, and “Poor Unfortunate Souls” from THE LITTLE MERMAID.




Hereafter, presented without additional comment, are my choices for the best scores in each of the genre categories:



  • FIELD OF DREAMS, music by James Horner
  • BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY, music by John Williams
  • GLORY, music by James Horner
  • HENRY V, music by Patrick Doyle
  • STEEL MAGNOLIAS, music by Georges Delerue

Special mentions should also go to ALWAYS (John Williams), DRIVING MISS DAISY (Hans Zimmer), IN COUNTRY (James Horner), LA RÉVOLUTION FRANCAISE (Georges Delerue), and TRIUMPH OF THE SPIRIT (Cliff Eidelman).



  • HONEY I SHRUNK THE KIDS, music by James Horner
  • THE BURBS, music by Jerry Goldsmith
  • HER ALIBI, music by Georges Delerue
  • NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION, music by Angelo Badalamenti
  • WE’RE NO ANGELS, music by George Fenton

Special mentions should also go to ENEMIES: A LOVE STORY (Maurice Jarre), PARENTHOOD (Randy Newman), POLICE ACADEMY 6: CITY UNDER SIEGE (Robert Folk), SHIRLEY VALENTINE (Marvin Hamlisch), and THE WAR OF THE ROSES (David Newman).



  • BATMAN, music by Danny Elfman
  • BLACK RAIN, music by Hans Zimmer
  • FAREWELL TO THE KING, music by Basil Poledouris
  • INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE, music by John Williams
  • LICENCE TO KILL, music by Michael Kamen

Special mentions should also go to DEAD CALM (Graeme Revell), JACKNIFE (Bruce Broughton), LETHAL WEAPON 2 (Michael Kamen, David Sanborn, Eric Clapton), THE PACKAGE (James Newton Howard), and RED SCORPION (Jay Chattaway).



  • STAR TREK V: THE FINAL FRONTIER, music by Jerry Goldsmith
  • THE ABYSS, music by Alan Silvestri
  • THE FLY II, music by Christopher Young
  • LEVIATHAN, music by Jerry Goldsmith

Special mentions should also go to BACK TO THE FUTURE PART II (Alan Silvestri), DEEPSTAR SIX (Harry Manfredini), PET SEMATARY (Elliot Goldenthal), THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (Misha Segal), and SLIPSTREAM (Elmer Bernstein).



  • THE LITTLE MERMAID, music by Alan Menken
  • A GRAND DAY OUT, music by Julian Nott
  • ASTERIX ET LE COUP DE MENHIR, music by Michel Colombier
  • KIKI’S DELIVERY SERVICE, music by Joe Hisaishi
  • PATLABOR, music by Kenji Kawai

Special mentions should also go to ALL DOGS GO TO HEAVEN (Ralph Burns), THE BFG (Keith Hopwood and Malcolm Rowe), LITTLE NEMO: ADVENTURES IN SLUMBERLAND (Thomas Chase, Stephen Rucker, Richard M. Sherman, Robert B. Sherman), and UROTSUKIDŌJI: LEGEND OF THE OVERFIEND (Masamichi Amano).



  • LONESOME DOVE [S1], music by Basil Poledouris
  • AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS [S1], music by Billy Goldenberg
  • BANGKOK HILTON [S1], music by Graeme Revell
  • DEKALOG [S1], music by Zbigniew Preisner
  • STAR TREK – THE NEXT GENERATION [S3], Jay Chattaway, Ron Jones, and Dennis McCarthy

Special mentions should also go to CAMPION [S1] (Nigel Hess), POIROT [S1] (Christopher Gunning), PRINCE CASPIAN AND THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER [S1] (Geoffrey Burgon), QUANTUM LEAP [S1] (Mike Post and Velton Ray Bunch), and THE YOUNG RIDERS [S1] (John Debney).

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