Award-winning Hollywood composer Bruce Broughton's music for The National WWII Museum's new attraction scores an emotional direct hit
NEW ORLEANS (May 7, 2009) – For Bruce Broughton, World War II begins with Big Bands, not a big bang. The veteran Hollywood composer, who wrote the musical themes for The National World War II Museum’s 4-D cinematic journey, Beyond All Boundaries, produced an emotional, resonant score. The production is an immersive journey, following America’s Greatest Generation from pre-Pearl-Harbor naiveté to America’s final victory in the War That Changed the World.
The 35-minute extravaganza will debut November 6 in the Solomon Victory Theater, the Museum’s $60 million addition built specifically to house Beyond All Boundaries. Equipped with a 120-foot-wide screen, a series of gigantic props and a computerized projection system worth millions of dollars, the theater features the very highest in high technology. Broughton’s concern, however, was purely artistic – how to convey a story of epic proportions and global sweep with music.
“The main theme begins in Beyond All Boundaries preshow and is almost innocent,” he explains. “It’s very Benny Goodman, very Big Band, reflecting a country unprepared for war.” Gradually, as America confronts the growing menace of Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany, the musical mood darkens as the country rises to meet its destiny. “You get a sense of the vastness of a war fought around the globe,” he says. “Many of the themes are keyed to important battles, like the Battle of the Bulge.
“There’s a wonderful scene where the audience is transported into a Belgian forest and the snow is falling and the music is playing Silent Night, which is also a German hymn,” he continues. “Just as you get a feeling of relief out of nowhere comes this massive Nazi attack. The audience is plunged into the situation. You are there.”
So, too, are many Hollywood A-Listers. The exclusive production features an all-star cast including Tom Hanks, its narrator and executive producer, joined by Kevin Bacon, Corbin Bleu, Patricia Clarkson, Kevin Connolly, James Cromwell, Blythe Danner, Viola Davis, Jessie Eisenberg, John Goodman, Neil Patrick Harris, Kevin Jonas, Justin Long, Tobey Maguire, Daran Norris, Wendell Pierce, Chris Pine, Brad Pitt, Bill Sadler, Gary Sinise and Elijah Wood, among others.
Many of the names are familiar to Broughton. In his 35-year-long role as Hollywood composer, Broughton has scored many a film including Tombstone, Silverado, the Three Musketeers and Harry and the Hendersons. His TV work has won him 20 Emmy nominations and 10 Emmy Awards, including one for Eloise at the Plaza and HBO’s Warm Springs. He’s composed numerous TV show scores for series like Quincy and Dallas. His work on the video game, Heart of Darkness, was the first orchestral score composed for the medium. Several of Broughton’s themes can be listened to at his website at sndbx.brucebroughton.com.
Creating the themes for Beyond All Boundaries – a cinematic experience with multiple props, computerized special effects, noise and sensation – was Broughton’s newest challenge and one he accepted eagerly.
“There have been hundreds of movies made about World War II, but this is going to be a real terrific show,” he says. “The script for Beyond All Boundaries,the historical research, the special effects, and the music will make it spectacular. I think it’s particularly interesting because audiences will follow this enormous conflict across the planet. At first there’s excitement – we’re going to beat up the bullies! Then we move into the awfulness of the war, its savagery and the horror of invading Japan which ends in the nuclear blast. Emotionally it’s quite a journey.”
Like so many Baby Boomers, Broughton has direct familial links to World War II. His father, Harold Broughton, now 86, was an anti-aircraft gunner and veteran at the Battle of Leyte Gulf in the Pacific. The elder Broughton stood not more than ten feet away from MacArthur when the famous general waded ashore during his “return” to the Philippines in 1944. Other members of the production have had similar connections to the Greatest Generation. Broughton believes those ties conspired to create a unique and powerful piece of cinematic history.
“From the director to the producer I’ve rarely seen so many people in a production on the same page,” he says. “We all had the same goal: to tell the story of America in World War II. I think we’ve done a great job.”
“We were thrilled when Bruce agreed to write the themes for Beyond All Boundaries,” says Phil Hettema, former Senior Vice President, Attraction Development of Universal, and head of the Hettema Group, the company that created the Museum’s immersive experience. “His music sets the stage for the drama that unfolds. Combined with the special effects and historical research, his compositions convey the story of America’s World War II story in a way words and pictures cannot.”
As thrilling as Beyond All Boundaries is, the cinematic experience is only one part of the Museum’s quest to educate their patrons’ senses. The complex also houses the 150-seat Stage Door Canteen entertainment venue and a full-service restaurant and bar called The American Sector by Chef John Besh, a James Beard award-winning talent and first Gulf War veteran.
The Museum will be opening three new attractions on November 6 as part of their overall expansion plans: The Solomon Victory Theater; The American Sector, a Chef John Besh restaurant; and The Stage Door Canteen, a dining and entertainment venue that salutes the stars of the war years and the Home Front.
The multi-day grand opening celebration, presented by Satterfield and Pontikes Construction, are will be an event worthy of a Hollywood premiere. A cast of celebrities led by Tom Hanks and Tom Brokaw, veterans and active military, political dignitaries from around the globe, as well as other assorted VIPs, will officially open the complex with a military fly-over and parachute drop on Friday, November 6. Family events and a New Orleans-style block party called the Victory Stomp will take place Saturday the 7th, and special retrospective honoring Museum-founder and Historian Stephen E. Ambrose will be held on Sunday the 8th followed by the Mason Lecture series featuring Dr. Alan Brinkley.
The National World War II Museum tells the story of the American Experience in the war that changed the world – why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today. Dedicated in 2000 as The National D-Day Museum and now designated by Congress as America’s National World War II Museum, it celebrates the American Spirit, the teamwork, optimism, courage and sacrifice of the men and women who fought on the battlefront and the Home Front. For more information, call 877-813-3329 or 504-527-6012 or visit www.nationalww2museum.org. Follow us on Twitter at WWIImuseum or visit our Facebook fan page.