Episode 6: Dances With Wolves

In 1990, Kevin Costner’s Dances With Wolves set the film world alight, and won seven Academy Awards in the process. But what about the score? In this episode, we take a look at the music of John Barry – who, although best known for his Bond scores, here manages to create something at once completely Barry-esque and wholly unique for a film about the flawed myth at the heart of American cinema’s greatest genre: the Western.


Episode notes:

2:58 – Dances With Wolves as a Western
6:00 – An indie production and adaptation
9:30 – John Barry
10:21 – Basil Poledouris’s near miss with Dances With Wolves
12:40 – The John Dunbar theme, and comparisons with Lonesome Dove and Legends of the Fall
14:30 – The John Barry ‘mythic’ mode, comparison with Out of Africa and Chaplin
18:30 – The ‘breathing’ nature of the John Dunbar theme, and his pop music origins
21:50 – Solo trumpet version of the Dunbar theme, comparison with Legends of the Fall
24:00 – Dunbar theme on harmonica, and the use of harmonica in Barry’s work
26:11 – The threatening, solo flute version of the Dunbar theme
28:24 – Mournful version of the Dunbar theme for the slaughtered Buffalo
30:35 – The ‘album version’ of the Dunbar theme during the hunt, with comparison to Barry’s 007 theme
34:15 – The ‘film version’ of the hunt theme, with comparison to The Big Country
37:25 – The love theme
41:35 – The ‘Two Socks’ wolf theme
44:37 – Comparison with A View To A Kill
46:33 – The Sioux motif
49:50 – Traditional musical representations of Native American clichés, comparison with The Searchers
52:10 – The Pawnee motif
55:00 – Development of Pawnee motif with threatening children’s themes
59:23 – Brusque French Horn performance of the Pawnee theme
1:00:25 – Comparison with The Living Daylights
1:02:33 – Leaving Fort Sedgewick and the travelling music
1:06:22 – The Buffalo motif, and comparison with The Living Daylights
1:10:10 – Andrew’s argument that the music represents the film’s geography
1:11:25 – The fire dance by Peter Buffett
1:14:05 – Barry’s compositional style and his legacy

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