This theme from Peter Best’s score for Crocodile Dundee (Peter Faiman, 1985) fuses lush, spacious consonances, drawn-out reverberant flute gestures and bedding strings.
The flute performs sustained notes in an ascending melodic pattern. Elsewhere in the film the motif is repeated and doubled by a French horn – in a lower register to thicken the melodic texture. The orchestral dynamics crescendo, helping to create forward momentum in the narrative, maximising the impact of the story.
The musical theme also plays a narrative and thematic role when it signifies, and cues in, Mick Dundee’s (Paul Hogan) sense of belonging to, and longing for, the rugged Australian outback – a sentiment he expresses regardless of where he is at any particular time.
As is typical with such scoring devices (often referred to as leitmotifs), repetition is significant. The more times we experience the music in conjunction with the characters – and their longing for a particular place – the more stated the signification becomes.
More broadly, this music highlights the film’s nostalgic qualities – and its strong desire to project a romanticised version of Australia to a mainstream international audience.
Notes by Johhny Milner (with thanks to Tom Dexter)