It’s the most wonderful time of the year. A time where we dust off our favourite ugly sweaters (or t-shirts, given the Australian summer), get into the Christmas spirit and settle in to watch, arguably, one of the best Christmas films of all time; Home Alone. I have watched this film almost every year since I was a kid. So when I was given the chance to witness my favourite Christmas film ever live with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, I leaped at the opportunity.
This latest film concert by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra sees this timeless classic reinvigorated and brings the John Williams score to the forefront. John Williams is most famous for his compositions for Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Jurassic Park, just to name a few. However, I had completely forgotten that John Williams wrote the score for Home Alone.
Written by John Hughes, directed by Chris Columbus, and starring Macaulay Culkin in his breakthrough role, Home Alone follows eight-year-old Kevin McCallister who is mistakenly left behind by his family as they fly off to Paris. After relishing in his newfound freedom, Kevin’s Christmas home alone quickly turns sinister when two burglars, Harry Lyme (Joe Pesci) and Marv Merchants (Daniel Stern), attempt to ransack the McCallister house. Determined to protect the family home, Kevin draws up a battle plan and sets a series of traps to scare off the would-be thieves.
I have always been a huge fan of John Hughes’ work, with cult classics such as The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Weird Science. With Melbourne Symphony Orchestra‘s show being sold-out last night, it is very clear that Home Alone is another beloved timeless classic from this incredible filmmaker.
Admittedly, I had never truly appreciated the score for Home Alone until last night. John Williams is an absolute genius. He cleverly creates light and happy melodies and includes the use sleigh bells in his score to remind you of Christmas. Listening to the remarkable Home Alone film score, I was instantly transported back to that feeling of an excited little kid on Christmas Eve and reminded of the emotions I felt when I first fell in love with this film.
Original song “Somewhere In My Memory” composed by John Williams with lyrics written Leslie Bricusse, has its theme constantly played throughout the film (giving me goosebumps), but is predominant from the scene in the church where Kevin finds an unexpected ally in his neighbour Marley (Roberts Blossom). With the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra being conducted by Benjamin Northey and accompanied by both the Australian Girls Choir and Conchordis Chamber Choir, this particular scene, although utterly beautiful already, was even more magical to witness with music being played live. Captivated by the moment, I even shed a few tears.
Coincidentally a lot of this score heavily reminded me of Harry Potter, which makes sense as both John Williams and Chris Columbus worked on the film series 11 years later together. It was only after attending the pre-show talk ‘Art of the Score’ that I made this connection, surprising me as I had learnt something new about a film that I have loved for years.
Art of the Score is a podcast featuring MSO Senior Manager, Special Projects Andrew Pogson and Dr Dan Golding, film critic and media lecturer. During the pre-show talk, Andrew and Dan are accompanied by conductor Benjamin Northey, and together discuss the film’s score. It is with thanks to these short talks that I have learnt a lot about how a score shapes a film. I strongly suggest that if you are attending a Melbourne Symphony Orchestra film concert, that you get in early to try attend these talks. It will make your film concert experience that much more enriching.
I have always loved Home Alone and it is with tremendous gratitude to the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra that I now love this film even more. Evidently, Home Alone has always been funny, but last night I was reminded of how heartwarming it is as well. It was also extremely exciting to experience the film with a live audience again, which is something I don’t think I have done since I was a kid during the film’s initial release. So, if you are free Saturday afternoon for the second and final performance, grab a ticket and go see this incredible film concert. There is even a little Christmas treat from the MSO at the end. By the end of the performance last night, the entire Hamer Hall audience stood to give the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra a well-deserved standing ovation. It was that wonderful.
Home Alone in Concert with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra is at Arts Centre Melbourne, Hamer Hall for two shows only; Friday the 13th of December at 7:30pm and Saturday the 14th of December at 2pm.
For more information and ticketing for Home Alone in Concert, visit here: https://www.mso.com.au/whats-on/2019/home-alone/
I would also like to take a moment to thank each and every member of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Your team work tirelessly throughout the year to bring some of the most incredible experiences to the best city in the world. We are so lucky to have you. We at Lilithia Reviews would like to wish all of you and your families a very safe and happy Christmas. We cannot wait see what you have in store in the new year.