Joshua Gizelt (swashbuckler332) wrote,
Joshua Gizelt

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Music for a big dumb guy with a machine gun.

It's strange, but while I have been familiar with the music from both the Omen and Rambo movies for years, it really took me making these compilations to really get into them. In the case of the Omen trilogy, I was dealing with one of the main landmarks of Goldsmith's career, his only Oscar, and his follow-ups. In the case of the Rambo movies I was dealing with a situation where Goldsmith was hired because of the kind of sound that he excels at. Now, my interest in the Rambo scores is completely because of my appreciation of Goldsmith as a craftsman. I have never seen any of the films, although I've been told that I might like First Blood, which apparently doesn't have the jingoistic nonsense that was introduced to these movies with the second entry. The change of Rambo from a dysfunctional soldier with no war to fight to a symbol of American Imperialism is audible in the scores; First Blood introduces a secondary theme for Rambo heard on solo trumpet that illustrates his isolation. When the same theme is reprised in the sequels, it is instead a wistful evocation of a naïve patriotism.

First Blood fits easily both into the type of action scores that Goldsmith was turning out at the time (and bears no small resemblance to Outland), creating blocks of music out of cells that he varies slightly to build a cue. My use of geometrical terms to describe this music is an aesthetic one; the music often feels geometric in design. This is a variation on minimalism that also characterizes the music of Bernard Herrmann, but this is very Goldsmithian in execution. Both of the sequels are written in the same way, both also with new variations on the central Rambo theme (which was the basis for the song "It's A Long Road" which closes First Blood). In the case of Rambo, Rambo is identified with a fanfare built out of harmonies heard in "It's A Long Road," while in the third a variation heard first in "My Town" from First Blood is combined with the clipped version of the Rambo action setting to create a theme unto itself.

I like the more gritty aspects of First Blood quite a bit. It is a harsher score than the others, but it introduces an action motif (first heard in "First Blood," track 3) that becomes the rhythmic basis for most of the more active passages of all three films. Rambo is the most popular of these scores, and that is completely understandable, as it is the most rousing. Rambo III is basically more Rambo music, with the variation coming from the different presentations of the new themes. Rambo III is clearly where Goldsmith's interest started flagging; it is decent enough, certainly entertaining, but one can definitely hear the limitations that the filmmakers' attachment to the temp track put on him, as it is written to sound very much like Rambo. I can say this with a certain amount of assuredness because in at least two places in the film a cue from Rambo ("Escape From Torture," track 25) is tracked into Rambo III, giving a pretty clear picture of what the filmmakers wanted. Perhaps its best complement would be that it is a Rambo score by Jerry Goldsmith - it's not very fresh, but it is pretty effective. There is a lot of neat stuff to be found in the score, so I didn't have a problem taking excerpts for this album.

I opened and closed with the the most intimate tracks on the album, the original version of "It's A Long Road" from First Blood; things really start cooking by "First Blood." I had to be careful not to allow the album to get too active too often, and so I was careful to create a deliberate pace; a string of action cues and then a pause; usually an introspective moment, but I also used some of the more textural passages from First Blood for this purpose. These are action movies, though, and the main thrust of this album is relentless forward momentum. I can attest that it's great for driving.



The Rambo Trilogy


1. Home Coming (First Blood) 2:16
Afghanistan (Rambo III) 1:41
First Blood (First Blood) 4:20
The Jump (Rambo) 3:10
Hanging On (First Blood) 3:21
Another Time (Rambo III) 3:49
Betrayed (Rambo) 4:13
The Razor (First Blood) 3:10
The Snake (Rambo) 0:54
Under and Over (Rambo III) 1:16
Stories (Rambo) 3:09
Questions (Rambo III) 2:17
Over the Cliff (First Blood) 2:01
Pilot Over (Rambo) 1:47
Flaming Village (Rambo III) 3:13
My Town (First Blood) 1:16
First Aid (Rambo III) 1:09
Revenge (Rambo) 3:15
The Long Climb (Rambo III) 3:13
Mountain Hunt (First Blood) 5:59
The Money (Rambo III) 0:46
The Tunnel (First Blood) 1:41
Home Flight (Rambo) 2:57
The Show Down and Final Battle (Rambo III) 4:07
Escape From Torture (Rambo) 3:33
I'll Stay (Rambo III) 8:56
It's A Long Road (First Blood) 2:57

Music Composed and Conducted by


Orchestrations by Arthur Morton

First Blood (1982)
Engineered by Allan Snelling at C.B.S. Studios, London

Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985)
Performed by the National Philharmonic Orchestra of London
Engineered by Mike Ross-Trevor at E.M.I. Abbey Road Studios, London

Rambo III (1989)
Performed by the Hungarian State Opera Orchestra
Engineered by Mike Ross-Trevor at MaFilm Studios, Budapest
Additional Orchestrations by Nancy Beach

Tags: film music, jerry goldsmith, my mixes
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