July 13th, 2008

Igor (Young Frankenstein)

Noise In Briefs



    My family and I are going to see a matinée of Young Frankenstein this afternoon! I'm quite excited as we had a very good time at Spamalot, and Young Frankenstein is another favorite that we can all quote the entirety of. I have not heard the cast recording, I only hope that Mel Brooks preserved John Morris' beautiful theme from the film, even if only for a quote somewhere in the score.


    ehowton is awesome!!! On Thursday I received the package from him consisting of the CLV edition of the of the original Star Wars trilogy. I already have the '93 release of the trilogy in CAV, which requires a side change every half hour or so (CAV had a limit of 30 minutes a side, but would allow for more functionality such as freeze frame and variable speed motion on earlier and lower-end players).

    No, they don't look anywhere near as good as the DVDs, but I prefer the pre-97 versions of the films anyway, and the sound mix on these sets is much superior to any subsequent mix. The full bandwidth of linear PCM gives the sound power that Dolby Digital can only dream of; the dimensionality may be somewhat less discrete, but in Pro-Logic II it rivals a 5.1 track. Given how central John Williams' music is to my enjoyment of a Star Wars movie, the compromise in image is acceptable. And now I don't have to switch out so many discs.


    While finishing up the master for Gotham Avenger has meant I haven't had the chance to listen to the bulk of my Varèse Club releases (which came the same day as ehowton's package of Star Wars lasers). I did, however, listen The Scarlett Letter on Friday, and I was blown away by it. The flavor of this score is very different from most of Bernstein's work, and the use of voices is very haunting. It would actually make a very good companion piece to another score from a Roland Joffé movie, Ennio Morricone's The Mission.

    Morricone also wrote a score for The Scarlett Letter that wasn't used, leading me to believe the Joffé wasn't sure what he wanted for the music. As pleasant as the score John Barry eventually contributed to the film was (I featured a cue from it on my Redwoods compilation), it is very lightweight compared to Bernstein's take, and I'm pretty sure Morricone's score would have been dramatically heavy as well. It would appear as though the serious tone of the first two scores were just too much for this movie. I'd say it was a shame, but I think that Bernstein's score is best served as far away from the film it was written for as it can get.


    I am extremely pleased that wardlejew is enjoying my compilation Excelsior!. This one seems to be shaping up into one of my more popular compilations, and it is pretty cool to see something that I put together to be inspirational actually being so to so many people.


    Only K L M N Y remain. C'mon, some of those are easy....
Gordon (Batman Begins)

"Hello, Vinny. It's your Uncle Bingo. Time to pay the check!"

I had originally put together a Batman feature compilation, Gotham Avenger: Screen Tales of the Dark Knight in October of 2005, and it incorporated music from Batman Begins. As with Man of Steel: Screen Tales of the Last Son of Krypton, it had a built-in obsolescence both in terms of incorporating music from the current state of the franchise and that the next film in said franchise would use an element of my chosen title. In the case of the Superman mix, it was the "Man of Steel" part, in the case of the Batman mix, it was the "Dark Knight" part. In re-imagining the Superman mix as an exclusive Christopher Reeve compilation, I simply called it You'll Believe A Man Can Fly. While I have not completely retitled the new Batman compilation, I have dropped the subtitle here as well.

Frankly, dropping the material from Batman Begins (which will be incorporated into a future mix concentrating on the Christian Bale series) worked in this particular album's favor. The dead-serious music that James Newton Howard and Hans Zimmer contributed to that film didn't always sit comfortably next to the material from the earlier five films, and made that disc a particularly strange listen. Instead, I have narrowed the field to the five theatrical films that were produced between 1989 and 1997. Four of these technically have continuity with one another, but the tone of the Joel Schumacher films are so radically different from that established by Tim Burton that one could easily consider those movies a discrete series.

This album consists of music from three composers, Danny Elfman, Shirley Walker and Elliot Goldenthal. While each one of them has a distinct style that is apparent in each of their scores, they also have many things in common. They all represent the Dark Knight himself with a bold, minor mode theme and go intentionally over-the-top with the sturm und drang. Danny Elfman was a hard sell to the studio for Tim Burton, but the resulting score would revolutionize the sound of the comic book movie. Elfman's bold, brassy, Wagnerian but slightly off-kilter music was a major aspect of the film, and his greatest career success has been in this genre. He would return for the 1992 sequel Batman Returns, where the more kinetic elements of the original film's score score would be balanced by tragic music for the Penguin and Catwoman. Batman: The Animated Series premiered between these two films, much of the music for which was composed by Shirley Walker, who conducted the original Batman score (in fact, the first season of Batman: The Animated Series featured an arrangement of Elfman's theme). Her more serious but no-less operatic approach would be given a larger palette, complete with a choir, on the feature-length theatrical release Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. Burton handed over the directorial reigns of the feature series to Joel Schumacher, who would create two affronts to the concept of the character, Batman Forever and Batman & Robin. While most of Schumacher's choices were completely disasterous, he brought Elliot Goldenthal into the mix, who based his technique not only on the expectations of the genre, but the musical vocalizations that children make when they play. The resulting scores were beyond over-the-top, and incredibly entertaining for all that.

All of the scores fit together so well that this disc makes the older version even more obsolete than The Dark Knight would have made it. The Batman Begins music really spoiled the curve by being so different from the others, forcing me in some ways to concentrate on similar music from the other films to give the album some consistency. A major advantage to the revision is that I was able to represent more facets of each of the represented scores, which was especially rewarding with respect to the underrated Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, which is a majestic score of the old school.

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