Joshua Gizelt (swashbuckler332) wrote,
Joshua Gizelt

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Comic Book Movie Extravaganza and the Northern Equation

Superman Returns was on television this morning; one of my co-workers observed that if it took place in the real world, the staff of Metropolis General Hospital would have taken photos of the Man of Steel's superjunk and the pictures would have been all over the internet almost as fast as the shots of Brittany Spears exiting that limo.

However, that made me think of comic book movies, so here are a few exciting scenes from some of my favorites:


Helicopter Rescue from Superman: The Movie

Magneto's Escape from X2

Street Chase from Batman Begins


Work on the Alex North compilation is proceeding. I expect to have completed most of my initial pool of selections very shortly. This is taking a very long time because many of the scores in question are quite lengthy and often include alternates. Nevertheless, I have been whittling down the choices to some finalists that will represent each individual score, itself a very interesting prospect given how many ideas from 2001 were re-used in Shoes of the Fisherman and Dragonslayer. I don't want to be repetitive, but I also don't mind showing the connections between these scores (and those that exist between Spartacus and Cleopatra as well). They will give the final result a greater sense of unity that might otherwise have been possible.

However... I want to use the cue "Bones" from 2001 to open the disc (the album will close with "Coronation" from The Shoes of the Fisherman, which is a reworked version of the same music, thus giving the disc musical symmetry). Despite the fact that it is monaural, it is a more authoritative performance than the alternative, which is the much more consonant Goldsmith recording, and will make a better introduction to the album as a whole. The catch is that the track on the Intrada release is rather damaged.

Unlike my previous post regarding whether or not Dragonslayer qualifies as an epic, the decision here has already been made. I will be using the damaged, monaural track instead of the pristine stereo track because of that performance (there also seem to be a few phrases here and there that seem to have been added on the recording stage), but also because I've used the Goldsmith recording to open every Risk compilation I've made since the beginning... the grandeur of that piece is stunning. This is not to mention that, while it is clearly based upon the model of Richard Strauss' introduction to Also Sprach Zarathustra (which Kubrick clearly wanted at an early stage), it is very unmistakably written in North's particular style, which means that the excitement generated by the three part structure is given an additional harmonic density.

Kubrick's decision to jettison North's score worked in the film's favor. Would the film have been stronger with North's score? Perhaps; synching up the cues from the score with the film shows that North's music would indeed have fit the film like a glove, but the selections that Kubrick eventually used helped that film attain the iconic status that it has enjoyed since its release. The use of pre-existing music is very apparent, mostly because with the exception of the Ligeti pieces, they were easily identifiable, causing a disconnect between the images and the accompanying music, emphasizing the commentative role of the music. "On the Beautiful Blue Danube," instantly recognizable and hummable, appears in the film almost as muzak, something filling space (in this case, literally). The piece from Also Sprach Zarathustra was so identified with the transcendental because of the film* that it can only be used now for satirical purposes.

I think it probable that the movie would have probably been a more artistically valid film with the original score, but not as much of an event. Since Kubrick was looking to create an event, and it is pretty obvious he succeeded in what he set out to do. I think that much of what makes the released version of 2001 work was the musical choices (although I think Kubrick's scoring methods reached their most fortuitous incarnation in his following feature, A Clockwork Orange), even if I feel the way that he handled dropping North's score to be reprehensible.

* Which is interesting given that 2001 takes a rather dim view of humanity; all of the technology on display in the film - from tapir thigh bones to orbiting weapons defense platforms to the creation of artificial intelligence - ultimately has a destructive purpose and all of mankind's greatest achievements can be traced back to the intervention of much smarter, more powerful beings.
Tags: alex north, cinema, james newton howard, john ottman, john williams, mix workshop, movie moments, stanley kubrick, superman, x-men

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