April 30th, 2004

Conan the King (Conan the Barbarian)

The Adventures of Robin Hood Across The Eighth Dimension

While the Super Audio CD format has been flourishing in its own way (whether or not people are equipped to play SACDs, most of the discs are now hybrids, and therefore compatible with regular CD players), the offerings in the DVD-Audio format, despite a myriad of technological advantages, are much more anemic.

Happily, the 5.1 remix of Tommy has been released on DVD-A, allowing those with home theater systems to be able to hear it (albeit not in audiophile quality), but for the most part, very few "must have" items have been released in the format. To be fair, the "must haves" that did appear are fantastic, including a great edition of The Doors' L.A. Woman, Neil Young's Harvest, Led Zeppelin's How the West Was Won and a special edition of Fleetwood Mac's Rumours, the latter of which takes full advantage of the format's capabilities, offering commentary tracks and alternate versions of songs.

Of course, as a collector of film music, the pickings have been particularly slim. This is only to be expected, given that soundtrack albums are at best a niche market, but John Morgan and William Stromberg have created an offering on Marco Polo that makes up for a lot.

The 1938 version of The Adventures of Robin Hood remains the definitive screen version of this legend, and one of the most entertaining motion pictures in history. A large part of what makes the film so much fun is the glorious score by Erich Wolfgang Korngold.

Korngold was approached to do this score because of his success with the previous Errol Flynn vehicles Captain Blood and The Prince and the Pauper (the classic The Sea Hawk would come in 1941) and his prestige from his operas. The creation of this score is very much tied into the survival of the Korngold clan (his brother's family managed to get out of Germany on the last unrestricted ship), but the only clue that one may have to how much stress the composer was under is that he borrowed certain musical passages from some of his own earlier works.

Few film scores are so vivacious, so cheerful. The film's purpose is pure entertainment, and Korngold responded accordingly.

John Morgan and William Stromberg have been responsible for some amazing reconstructions of Golden Age scores, releasing amazing sounding CDs of such classics as Max Steiner's King Kong, The Treasure of Sierra Madre and They Died With Their Boots On, Franz Waxman's Objective: Burma!, Philip Sainton's Moby Dick and many others. Their attention to detail and interest in preservation has resulted in a series of phenomenal film score recreations. Furthermore, I can say, having corresponded with him on both the Film Score Monthly and MovieMusic.Com message boards, that John Morgan is a really nice guy.

The Adventures of Robin Hood was a natural for re-recording. Despite a (very good) recording on Varese Sarabande, the complete score has never before been available. The release of the Marco Polo CD finally put that to rights. It is the release of the DVD-Audio edition of this recording, however, that causes me to be ecstatic. I had held off purchasing the CD knowing that this would be arriving (this is why it is cool that Morgan participates on these message boards), and I just have to say "Wow!"

This is one of the best-sounding 5.1 recordings of an orchestra I have ever heard, with full, rich tones and great presence that makes optimal use of the soundstage. In addition to the advanced resolution audio which requires a DVD-Audio player, the program is presented in Dolby Digital and DTS for those without (the latter rivals the quality of the advanced resolution delivery). Interestingly, this is the first DVD-Audio title I have seen that does not have an advanced resolution stereo playback option.

If you have never seen the film, Warner Brothers has released a wonderful DVD in eye-popping Technicolor and with a bevy of special features. It is well worthwhile.

New Searchable Database
Charts Bush/Cheney Lies

As the September 11th Commission grills President Bush and Vice President Cheney about their contradictory statements today, we wanted to alert you to a powerful new tool to help journalists, activists and the public compare the Bush administration's claims against well-documented facts. The Center for American Progress today launched a comprehensive Claim vs. Fact database at http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1283824&l=31810 that documents statements from conservatives like President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Members of Congress and Fox News personalities, and compares those statements to the facts. Each fact is sourced, and in many cases includes a web link directly to that source.

The database has more than 400 entries so far, but THEY NEED YOUR HELP BUILDING IT. If you know of a lie, distortion or dishonest statement from a Bush Administration official or another conservative that isn't already in the database, please go to their submission page at
or http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1283824&l=31814

There you can submit an entry for addition to the database, so that the tool grows and becomes a real-time tracker of lies.

- Peter Schurman and the MoveOn team

Five points to whomever can recognize the reference in the "subject" line. Sorry, suitboyskin, but you're disqualified.