Alyn Syms - Biography

I also played in a enchanted field where my friends and I relived our adventures and created new ones each day. We lived for Saturday matinees where we could once again leave the restrictions of Lackawanna and go off on new adventures armed with popcorn, soda and a big box of candy. Such was the gift movies played in my life. I grew up downwind from the Bethlehem Steel Plant in Lackawanna, I witnessed its heyday. It looked like Tolkien’s Mordor from a distance. We did our best to ignore it until huge clouds of dark orange dust came up the street temporarily postponing our baseball games, or roller-skate jousting matches. Not a very optimistic place.

But back to the movie and the soundtrack. The music went hand in hand with the animation; complimenting one another & neither being overshadowed. I think the most profound effect they had on me was to create a sense of wonder. The fact that I remember it like it was yesterday is proof of that. The word movie doesn’t suggest the great collaborative effort that it really is, and those names rolling at the end of the film all contributed to that film and to that effect. Ray Harryhausen was an auteur overseeing every aspect of the film production and was brilliant to choose Bernard Hermann to do the score.

There are composers who can conceive great music but not all can just create music with a sense of awe and wonder, because that reflects the soul of the musical designer. You can be brilliant yet dull, musically educated but have a dark soul. It will all show up in your music. You are, after all what you create. And I’m convinced that the best music is more metaphysical than physical, inspired not clever. I think the worst trend in movies started in the 60’s with reality based filmmaking. My reality was unforgiving enough, I didn’t have to glance far to see it.

What I required as a young boy was something to inspire me to create better realities, use the power of imagination to generate a better world than the one overflowing with violence I was surrounded by. My question is, why honor those harsh realities on the silver screen? What hope do you offer the young? You shouldn’t make movies their boot camp them, or to indoctrinate them to a world of violence and death. I used to go to the movies once a week, then once a month, now once a year. That magical place no longer exists, except in my inner self.

When the powers that be tore down the Abbott Theater a niece of mine filched a broken brick as a memento. I exchanged her a stone from Hadrian’s Wall for it. I have this fantasy that someday, somewhere, I’ll be able to put this brick in an open field on a moonlit night and a magical theater will grow from it. This one will never be torn down. And that sense of wonder in all movies will return, inspiring future generations to create better worlds for everyone.

Favorite Film Composers:
Bernard Hermann, John Williams, Ennio Morricone, Wolfgang Korngold, Max Steiner, James Horner, Hans Zimmer, Jerry Goldsmith, Elmer Bernstein

   
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