Joshua Gizelt (swashbuckler332) wrote,
Joshua Gizelt

  • Mood:
  • Music:

Pig Shit

I returned my T-Berd, and today is my last day working out of 50th Street. Monday I start at 56th, the district I know intimately. I am pretty happy about this move as it is much closer to my hole, the facilities are newer, the neighborhoods are nicer and, while I do appreciate the large feline presence on the West Side, why that feline presence is so large is something that makes me rather happy to be moving. No, I haven't come across any real vermin problems yet, but there's no reason to tempt the fates, eh?

* * *

Thanks to all of you who discretely let me know that they were thankful for the on Molly Ringwald's breasts the other day. I live to educate. It's a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it.

I am not a huge Maurice Jarre fan. In fact, I think that he's pretty overrated. I like Lawrence of Arabia, Red Sun and A Walk in the Clouds, but most of his work leaves me cold. There was a period of time in the mid-eighties, though, when he was turning out some really interesting genre scores that continue to interest me. Enemy Mine and Jacob's Ladder are two offbeat projects that seemed to have sparked an unusual amount of creativity from this strange composer. One of the participants on the Film Score Monthly message boards appropriately referred to his talents as loopy autism; when he's good he's great, but he's also pretty hit or miss.

I will say that if there is one score of his that I absolutely adore, however, it is Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. The strange thing about this is that I really consider the fact that the film was not scored by Brian May, who composed the harsh and gritty music for the first two Mad Max films (not the guy from Queen) to be a missed opportunity. May's music for Mad Max was uncompromisingly raw, but Mad Max 2 (titled The Road Warrior in the States) managed to be both jagged and lyrical, supplementing not only the frenetic action, but also the sense of loss suffered by the human race. There are several theories floating around as to why Jarre was tapped instead of May, but while I would have loved to see where May would have gone with the third film, I really get a kick out of Jarre's music for the movie.

Jarre's score is very different from May's approach in many ways, not least of which is that the main theme is more versatile. Associated in the early portion of the film only with Max, it is then applied to the children whose safety he takes as his responsibility. The theme is also able to be heard in a sweeter variation on Ondes Martenot, implying Max's weathered sense of morality. As with the Prokofiev-inspired Ewok theme in John Williams' score for Return of the Jedi, one of the more dubious elements of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, the children (one of the more literal allusions to William Golding's The Lord of the Flies in a series that is filled with them) elicited one of the score's major strengths as Max's theme is augmented by a children's choir and percussion, giving it nobility and innocence.

There is also the clanking music for Bartertown, the first settlement to rise from the ashes of civilization, which has a rock-styled variation with a raucous saxophone for the pig farm that provides power for the town. For some reason, the Thunderdome Fanfare, which is a piece Jarre plays often in concert, is omitted from the album.

The finale, in which the children beat an airborne escape from Bartertown, leaving Max behind, and fly over the remains of Old Sydney is particularly good, with white-knuckled tension scoring their take-off, a triumphant setting of Max's theme and a quiet, introspective piece for the ruined metropolis. The score closes, as the May works did, with a presentation of Max's theme, only instead of rising to a bold conclusion as may did, Jarre has the piece trail off as the dedication to Byron Kennedy appears on the screen.

While there are problems with the film Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, the story takes us to areas that, from a mythic point of view, are necessary. Max thinks he has had all traces of humanity burned out of him in the first film, becomes a loner in the second, and takes responsibility in the third... but is always left behind. Max becomes the necessary "missing link" between the old civilization that has self-destructed and the new one that will rise in the future. Jarre's score is of a much more epic scale than May's work (he was, after all, David Lean's composer of choice), which ties into the image of Max as a mythic figure. He may not actually be Captain Walker, but he still fulfills that purpose for the children, and the confluence of thematic association cements that idea. Performed with gusto by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, this score is spectacular and operatic, but with a twinkle in its eye. Jarre seemed to be having a damn good time writing and conducting this score, and his enthusiasm is infectious.

The album itself is a bit odd. Essentially programmed to emphasize Tina Turner's contributions, including her megahit "We Don't Need Another Hero," which has nothing to do with anything involved in the film other than the word "Thunderdome" somewhere. If anything it is the opposite of what the film is about; the children do need a hero, and they get one. The other song, "One of the Living" is actually a scaldingly accurate description of the post-apocalyptic world the Mad Max movies create, and plays over the main titles of the film. There are three tracks by Jarre, but two of them consist of several cues, running rather long in the process. The GNP Crescendo and EMI CDs are identical in programming to the original Capitol LP. I've not heard the EMI disc, but the Crescendo edition features thunderous sound.

For my Nomad, I created a CD image that split the two longer tracks down into something more managable, plus, since soundtrack album does not have the Fanfare cue, I included the closest version I could find. The breakdown is thus (and yes, I do get a kick out of having a track on my Nomad titled "Pig Shit"):

a. Into Bartertown (3:22) b. Pig Shit (3:54)
Thunderdome Music* (0:38) d. Into the Desert (1:09)

a. The Children (2:12)

a. I Ain't Captain Walker (3:59) b. Back to Bartertown (5:03)
The Train Departs (1:19) d. Ain't We A Pair, Raggedy Man and Old Sydney (3:07)
Coming Home (1:41)

* From the Sony recording Jarre by Jarre.

Tags: film music, maurice jarre, work
  • Post a new comment


    Comments allowed for friends only

    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded