Joshua Gizelt (swashbuckler332) wrote,
Joshua Gizelt
swashbuckler332

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Drunken rambling....

Damn those Verizon bastiches!!!

Not the ones making policy, just the ones who have lured me out here to Manhattan and abandoned me when I'm too fargin' fugged up to drive!!!

Of course, the internet is a great place to spend your intoxicatificated extra time... :P

Anyway...

I checked out the "Director's Cut" (i.e. International Version) of Dune, the mini-series, and found that the extra footage is all very interesting material. A scene between Baron Harkonnen and Count Fenring in which each one is threatening the other (oh, so delicately), a sequence in which Paul meets Stilgar in the Arrakeen atrium both add immeasurably to the film... not to mention the nudity which the U.S. version was forced to cut owing as to the immaturity of American audiences (does this mean that Children of Dune has nakedness as well? More specifically, Jessica Brooks!?!).

The music, by Graeme Revell, also commands much more attention upon scrutiny than the initial impression it makes. The GNP Crescendo CD (8071) allows many elements of the score to come out center-stage, but unfortunately it eliminates quite a few very important moments in the score. Revell is more at home creating exotic sounds, so the music illustrating Fremen life is quite good, but he falters when it comes to the action cues, often falling into traps that Toto managed to avoid in their score for the 1984 version. In fact, there are several moments in Revell's score that seem to eerily echo Toto's (which is a fantastic score).

The biggest issue with the original Dune mini-series that I have is that there are some elements that would have been interesting to have explored, but were not (the main one is Shai-Hulud, but the sequel mini-series really made that point moot). David Lynch's film still holds a great amount of weight because of the visuals and the cast, but the mini-series does a great amount of back-pedaling in order to get as much of the novel on-screen as possible. If it is not quite up to the taks of presenting all the elements of the book, it is because I am hard-pressed to think of a more layered and complex set of novels as these.

I got my car back the day before yesterday, and I must say (even though the air conditioner has mysteriously stopped working) that I feel freer than I have in a month. I can (once I sober the eff up) go as I please and do as I please once again (thank you, Gurney Halleck) and I am most pleased with that fact.

It is also nice to know that if I go into work tommorrow I will have an extra hour of sleep and will be in on time.

I have put together an expanded edition of The Dark Crystal score, which was released in a 2 disc set by Numenorean Music earlier this year. The first disc was the original LP, remastered and sounding fantastic, and the second was the complete score as it appears in the film. Owing as to the fact that the original elements were not available for the DVD master, the complete score is from the film mix, which means that it appears with the film edits. It is essentially the same as the isolated score track on the DVD but sounds better. I took the LP edition (which I believe to be one of the best album re-thinks of a film score in the history of film soundtrack records) and put in a few more pieces of music that rounded out the score but didn't detract from the incisive nature of that wonderful record. The result runs about an hour (which means that I restored about fifteen minutes) and is consistant with the album, but with more detail.

As I mentioned before, Brian Tyler's score for Children of Dune has been a minor obsession for me recently. I have come to start referring to it as "Gladiator sans crap," which reflects the main approach of the score but also addresses the fact that it blithely avoids many of the pitfalls that Hans Zimmer fell into composing that score.

Except for the annoyingly derivative "Inama Nushif" (which is nevertheless written with Fremen lyrics) the music from Children of Dune manages to evoke all of the world music elements from Graeme Revell's score for the first mini-series, but set against an epic orchestral backing that Revell's score doesn't take advantage of (this despite the fact that the same orchestra, the City of Prague Philharmonic - uncredited on Children of Dune - perform both).

While I have found Hans Zimmer's pop cum lazy "one-score-fits-all" approach to be frustrating (it is not only him that produces such filth, but also any of his Media Ventures slaves... Nick Glennie-Smith, Harry Gregson-Williams, Trevor Rabin, Klaus Badelt and a few others), the score for Gladiator is one that I have a love/hate relationship to.

I love the hypnotic trance that it puts the viewer in; few scores are as effective at haunting the audience as Gladiator is. The dark and driving "Progeny" theme, the ennobling "Strength and Honor" motive, the "Zucchabar" cue (which is on the More Music from Gladiator disc as "The Slave Who Became A Gladiator") all combine to an intoxicating brew.

It is empty calories though. Even accepting that the reference to "Mars" from Gustav Holst's The Planets is intentional, the Gladiator score contains quite a bit that shows Zimmer chewing with his mouth open and reprising his (in)famous Backdraft theme (often called "The Iron Chef Theme" in film-music circles), displaying a certain contempt for the discerning ear in the movie theater.

Zimmer intergrates the world music element into the score for Gladiator very well, though, and it is one of the aspects of the score I most reflect. It would be nice if Zimmer had the talent and skill to compose music on the level of someone like Brian Tyler, but Gladiator is as good a score as you're likely to get from that hack.

Tyler, on the other hand, is a newbie. His scores have not only been energetic and propulsive, but he also has the young composer's desire to impress. As a result, Children of Dune is an invigorating score, influenced by Gladiator but having a greater scope.

For one thing, while Zimmer uses a tiny orchestra beefed up with a battery of dubious synth elements - which certainly don't fit Gladiator - Tyler uses the full range and breadth of the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. And this is not the Zimmer-style "every instrument playing the same thing" type of orchestration; Tyler is obviously intimate with how to write large-scale orchestral scores, and this shows through in such cues as "Summon the Worms," "Main Title (House Atreides)," "War Begins" and "The Jihad."

Tyler is also quite at home providing music with a world influence. The first cue heard in the mini-series is "The Battle of Naraj," which sounds like Tyler is merely aping Revell's score from the original mini-series. By this point in the album, however, the main thematic material of the score has been established, and so it comes across as an organic part of the whole.

One of my favorite cues on this CD is "Trap the Worm," which scores a sequence in which the Corrino family, assisted by the Bene Gesserit and the Spacing Guild, manage to kidnap a Worm. This is a major moment in episode one, a visually stunning feast elaborating brilliantly upon what is, in Dune Messiah, a single sentence.

The track on the album appears to be combined with the cue in which Leto rides Shai-Hulud for the first time, which is my favorite sequence in Children of Dune.

Tyler's score also has several other themes, the main one being a theme for House Atreides itself that is heard first in "Dune Messiah" and shows up in every other track on the album. This secondary theme is very similar to some of the more European elements of Gladiator, but it is given a different spin and often is heard in a contemplative manner (such as in "The Arrival of Lady Jessica," "Leto and Ghanima" and "Farewell").

The album is arranged in such a way as so to start with the orchestra-oriented material and gradually become more and more exotic. Cues appearing towards the album's conclusion, such as "Child Emperor," "The Desert Journey," "The Fremen Qizarate" and "Children of Dune" all gravitate more towards the world music element.

Overall, the album is a fantastic listen, and the more derivative cues are fleeting while the more original cues shine out. The CD is on Varese Sarabande (302 066 454), and gives a generous 77 minutes worth of music, though I would gladly listen to more, if it were available.

I wonder whether or not there are plans by John Harrison and his crew to adapt God Emperor of Dune, Chapterhouse: Dune and Heretics of Dune; I would gladly watch them, although God Emperor, which consist primarily of philosophical discussions, may be a difficult work to adapt. On the other hand, the latter two books in Herbert's series may well be among the most interesting pieces of literature ever brought to television... although quite a bit of both may not be able to be shown to the aforementioned immature U.S. audiences.

While there are flaws in the mini-series version of these novels, I must say that they are more than made up for by the level of detail allowed by the mini-series format. Since the only characters returing in God Emperor of Dune would be Leto II and Duncan Idaho, there won't be the same discrepancy with the cast that occurred between Dune and Children of Dune; hopefully there won't be too many other continuity issues (for some reason, the Spice Navigator effect was different from one series to the next, and it is jarring).

Well, I have sobered up quite a bit and will now be ambling over to my car....
Tags: film music
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