Squanto: A Warrior's Tale

Joel McNeely

" Squanto revives the amazing sound of the good old 90's "

Written by Thomas Glorieux - Review of the limited release

Joel McNeely is a composer we miss today, perhaps even one of the most of all. Reason 1 why we miss him is Squanto: A Warrior's Tale. It is not even his best, but it has filmmusic that comes from a different era. It's not easy to put it in perspective, but you just know you're listening to something from another era once you hear those opening seconds. It has richness without making it too difficult, it has themes that weave in between one another, it has beauty and power, it has it all. And as said, it is not even his best. Reason why Intrada wanted to release it, and why McNeely is still a heavy favorite of mine.

Squanto is one of those Disney adventures that people apparently never saw. But even if Squanto is the piece of film you never heard off, there was still a composer like Joel McNeely. Having just composed a monster action cue for Terminal Velocity and one of the all time best adventure scores for Iron Will, McNeely wasn't out of ideas once he composed the tunes for Squanto. And despite it being weaker in terms of quality, it is certainly not weaker in terms of enjoyability. No, Squanto has that aroma of a fine 1994, an aroma that improves in time.

Opening with the soft noble theme for Squanto (and immediately reminding us of Iron Will) in "Main Title" and "The Honeymooners", one is immediately treated to the warm adventure sound of Iron Will, and the wonderful adventure sound of McNeely in the second part of "The Honeymooners". Something that immediately gets further attention in "Kidnapped", when it flourishes in the second part with rousing dramatic action music. That happens further in "Bear Pit / Squanto Escapes" and the rousing "Lacrosse / Lonely Brave / Hawk Warning / Sacking the Monastery". The best one is "The Great Escape" that not only delivers the marching action music but also an adventurous final minute with additional fanfares. Or how I put it, McNeely brilliance in a nutshell. Sadly the much anticipated "Confrontation" never explodes into anything.

And as a bonus, Squanto is also full of theme statements. We have the main theme which is of course all over the place ("Main Title", "The Honeymooners", "Horse Ride", "Montage", "Thanksgiving" and "End Credits"), we have a love theme ("Kidnapped", "Lacrosse / Lonely Brave / Hawk Warning / Sacking the Monastery", "Thanksgiving") and a spiritual theme ("Squanto Found", "The Hawk", "Montage", "Goodbye").

And of course McNeely occasionally hints at Williams as well. In "Arrival in Plymouth" one is treated to Hook's playfulness, in "Bear Pit / Squanto Escapes" we are once again reminded of the Indiana Jones moment that equally appeared in Iron Will (although less obvious here), and it's even better when we even receive hints of the great Iron Will through the main theme eruptions in "Horse Ride". The real treat however is the amazing "End Credits" cue, unleashing an enormous sounding main theme and rich orchestral music.

Easily put, even if Squanto is not McNeely's best, it is music we sadly don't hear anymore today. The rich recording already enhances it, the McNeely voice confirms it, Squanto is a delight to listen to. There are multiple themes and we have adventurous, dramatic and spiritual music in the best Disney sense. It's perhaps a bit too much after a while, having a second part that doesn't always enthrall (considering the less interesting tracks are featured near the end). But I can better put it this way, Squanto: A Warrior's Tale lacks the amazing quality of the 30 minute Iron Will, but still has the amazing ability to whopper up a fantastic couple of minutes that rival the so called rich adventure scores of today.


1. Main Title (2.54)
2. The Honeymooners (2.49)
3. Kidnapped (4.03) Excellent track
4. Arrival in Plymouth (1.53)
5. Bear Pit / Squanto Escapes (5.41)
6. Squanto Found (0.57)
7. The Hawk (2.07)
8. Horse Ride (3.04) Excellent track
9. Montage (1.32)
10. Lacrosse / Lonely Brave / Hawk Warning / Sacking the Monastery (5.08)
11. Goodbye (3.30)
12. Epinow Rescue (1.41)
13. The Great Escape (5.07) Excellent track
14. Home (1.53)
15. Burning Boat / Fire to Pilgrims (6.35)
16. Confrontation (6.21)
17. The Healing (2.36)
18. Thanksgiving (3.10)
19. End Credits (4.03) Excellent track

Total Length: 65.03
(click to rate this score)  
(total of 4 votes - average 3.88/5)

Released by

Intrada Special Collection Volume 179 (limited release 2011)

Conducted by

Joel McNeely

Orchestrations by

David Slonaker