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The “Awe” Music of 80s Film


I saw the Goonies recently, and one aspect of the music struck me: during several scenes, a theme cropped up that sounded familiar. I had heard something like it in the Back to the Future films. In both films, the similar music was used to evoke the same sensation: A feeling of awe and suspense in something inevitable and amazing.

The Goonies music starts at the 2:50 mark of this video:

The Back to the Future music can be heard just past 3:10, for a few seconds, during this video:

The two films, despite both coming out in 1985 and both being produced by Steven Spielberg, don’t appear to have an overlap, music-wise. BttF’s score is by Alan Silvestri, and The Goonies’ score is from Dave Grusin. But the same light, spine-tingly instrument is used by both. It’s a pattern, I tell you! Someone needs to repeat this in a modern film, to evoke the same sense of 80s awe.


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