TESTAMENT (1983) - James Horner - Soundtrack Score Suite
STARRING: Jane Alexander, William Devane, Ross Harris, Roxana Zal, Lukas Haas, Philip Anglim, Lilia Skala, Leon Ames, Lurene Tuttle, Rebecca De Mornay, Kevin Costner
1983, 120 Minutes, Directed by: Lynne Littman
Description: An unexpected nuclear strike has occurred and no one knows who did it or why it happened. With her husband away on business, and now unable to be reached, Carol Weatherly must remain strong for the sake of her children. Things take a turn for the worse once food and other supplies become scarce. — Amazon.com
Very understated drama about the aftermath of a nuclear war. This film is the direct opposite of The Day After and has no flashy special effects - no explosions, scenes of mass devastation and so on.
Instead the focus is on an American suburban family which has to contend with the inevitable effects of World War III. If you think that the survivors are all going to inherit a Mad Max kind of world, think again! There are no survivors and this film brings this uncomfortable truth across admirably.
Originally made for American television.
The 1983 film Testament was originally produced as a television project for PBS's "American Playhouse," but the quality of the film was considered so high that Paramount decided to purchase the rights for a full theatrical release. Its production qualities are still those of a made-for-TV film, with minimal special effects, stunning acting, and a reliance on a strong adaptation of Carol Amen's short story, "The Last Testament." The story resembles many that prevailed in Ronald Reagan's nuclear-ambitious early-80's, with the concurrently seen telefilm The Last Day better remembered for its treatment of everyday America after a nuclear war. The stark reality of Lynne Littman's film is a disturbing experience to say the least, with the primary suburban family in its story slowly dying off as radiation spreads and the skies grow dark. It is understandable that James Horner's score for the film is equally depressing. Built for a small ensemble and usually consisting of solo trumpet or woodwind performances, the score is extremely respectful while mourning a lifestyle lost. Two standout tracks include the cue for the bike ride between father and son before the war, with Horner providing one of his more enjoyable family theme variations for horn, synthesizer, harp, piano, and strings (an interesting precursor to his children's work a decade later). A recollection variation on Horner's consistently utilized title theme is performed by haunting choir in the late moments of the score. On the whole, the solo performances define Testament; the respect that Horner shows with the melodic simplicity of his work is shown in the fact that he mirrors the hopeless optimism of the primary character (the family mother) with slowly deteriorating statements of the title theme in a consistently major key form. The sound quality for the score is outstanding given its age, and is reproduced well in the film despite existing in a monaural soundscape.