Brad Fiedel
Terminator 2 Judgment Day Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Silva Screen Records 2010

Like any piece of classical music worth its weight in cartoons, a good soundtrack score will build to a crescendo and explode, sometimes slowly, sometimes accelerating like a car driver that can’t help a lead foot. Music has done that to all of us.  Terminator 2 may not employ much more that a few instruments and a few computer programs, but when it comes to an effective piece of music, it all comes down to only one question.  Does it do the job and does it convey the big ideas.  With Brad Fiedel behind the controls, the answer is yes.

Some still claim that this is the best of the Terminator franchise, and it is the only one I actually saw, but I did love it.  I am not even an Action movie fanatic.  It’s certainly one of Cameron’s best and the music played a big roll in that success.  And at a time when digital techniques were in their infancy, even with Moog and Raymond Scott and others to look to as forefathers, it took a while.  In a very real way (and reel) Fiedel created this score in a vacuum, a most interesting and accepting vacuum, but a vacuum nonetheless.  Given the time travel characteristics of the film (what I was drawn to initially), that vacuum seems appropriate.

The digitally created musics ground the movie in it’s “future-past” of horrific probabilities and the organic instruments ground it in its “past-present” of what-ifs in the characters’ dangerous realities that no one else can see.  However Fiedel and Cameron determined the right amount of ingredients to make all of this work and it works better than most of the conveyor belt soundtracks created by most famous film composers who feel compelled to rehash the same mediocre dreck each time, as if they are just working for the money until they find the next big project they can sink their teeth into.

Cameron previously selected Fiedel to score the first Terminator and that sent him on his way to several other successful films, including this one, but he didn’t feel moved to continue writing music so he stopped regularly composing in 1995.  Now he’s working on other projects that move his creativity.  However, the music to the first two Terminator films lives on.  This body of work is something Fiedel can be proud of and we can all be grateful for and only wish we had more of it more often.


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