April 18th, 2010

Lex (Superman: The Movie)

"Doesn't it give you kind of a shudder of electricity through you to be in the same room with me?"

"Donner's original film managed to completely encapsulate the Superman mythos and I think that inspired John Williams to score the movie the same way. He struck a perfect combination of contemporary Americana with 19th century European musical sounds… Copland and Sousa meets Wagner and Strauss, I tend to think of it, and so the result is immediately suggestive of the entire concept of Superman, not just the actual movie. He scored the myth, not just the film."
— Mike Matessino

This is my fourth take on this material. So why Superman again?

My original assembly of this material was made back in 2006, though nobody but jailnurse heard it. Sourced from the Rhino Superman, the Japanese Warner CD of Superman II and Superman III, the Superman Returns soundtrack album, a recording of the title march from Superman IV: The Quest for Peace culled and edited from the (then current) DVD edition and an unmentionable source for the complete Superman II score. As can be imagined, in addition to having a pretty narrow selection of music from these five films, the overall sound quality was abysmal.

That changed with the release of the Blue Box from Film Score Monthly, which presented the scores from the four Christopher Reeve Superman movies in complete and remastered form (along with Ron Jones' exciting music for the 1988 Ruby-Spears animated series). Along with a lossless copy of a promo of the complete Superman Returns score, I set out to make the Ultimate Superman mix. Shortly after completing the resulting disc, Man of Steel: The Last Son of Krypton, I had heard that Bryan Singer was going ahead with a sequel to Superman Returns titled The Man of Steel.

I opened up the master (all the files were still on my computer) and stripped out all of the material from Superman Returns so that I could concentrate on the Reeve films and make a separate compilation dedicated to John Ottman's contribution to Singer's revitalization of the franchise. Unfortunately, in taking out Ottman's music, I left myself with a few holes that I had to plug as best as possible. The final version of that disc, and the one that has been my "official" Superman compilation since was titled You'll Believe a Man Can Fly, and while a decent overview of the music for the franchise, it dramatically sags in its latter half because I wasn't structuring the album like a record, but filling in a bunch of "good parts."

As it turned out, Singer will not be making another Superman movie, and so John Ottman's contribution kind of got orphaned. His dignified treatment of Superman's personal life was a major addition to the Superman ouevre, and helped balance out the more cartoonish elements of the compilation. I therefore decided a few weeks ago that I really wanted to fix what was wrong with my Superman mix, especially in light of what I felt was a raging success with my Basil Poledouris Conan compilation Let Me Tell You of the Days of High Adventure, which is similar for myself in terms of my personal connection to the music.

I could have gone back to the original Man of Steel (the master was still on my hard drive), but I have completely changed how my mixes are prepared since I created You'll Believe a Man Can Fly. Some of the things that took me hours to do on the original project only took a few minutes this time around. On the other hand, I also have gotten more ambitious with what I can accomplish through editing and mixing, and so I was finally able to accomplish certain tasks — Track 2 in particular — that I had always wanted to but were unable to do with the limitations I had in the past. This is one of the most complicated projects I have ever attempted, and even some of the edits that were relatively seamless on the original versions of this disc have been smoothed over on this edition. I could also take advantage of a somewhat longer running time, giving each piece more room to breathe.

While this is a completely new project, it does have a history, and the first portion of the album — which deals with the mythology of Superman — is very similar to the previous incarnations. The second portion of the album (the disc can be divided neatly into a "Side One" and "Side Two," but that was not my intention this time around) contains most of the divergences in order to flow more smoothly, including a "romance" suite, a more threatening version of Williams' Villain march and a fresh version of my title march chimera from Superman II. The most important difference between this disc and all previous versions is that, rather than get fragmented toward the end of the album, this one has a specific climax and denouement before the finale, which, it turns out, is vitally important for a Superman compilation.

This disc, like You'll Believe a Man Can Fly, is dedicated to the memory of Alexander Courage.

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