Joshua Gizelt (swashbuckler332) wrote,
Joshua Gizelt

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"She had the most beautiful... eyes."

Screen Archives' listing for Heavy Metal: The Score said, and I quote, "Buy This CD or Taarna Will Kick Your Ass." I asked if I could order the CD and just pretend I didn't so that Taarna would show up anyway, but unfortunately I had to decide between her and the music.

Taarna deals with a ruffian caught pirating the Blue Box

Now, it would be fairly easy to assume that this disc wasn't going to have very much in the way of surprises for me. I mean, I've had the LP of this score for years. This is a case where I probably would have been satisfied with a straight remaster of the original album (and Lukas and company have graciously provided the album edits to recreate it if so desired) but I have just listened to the new CD twice, and it's just a case where the more is better.

While the playing time is longer, the additions are spread out across the disc. For another, the kind of bold, expansive writing is Elmer Bernstein in full-out The Ten Commandments mode (with an almost literal quotation at one point) and it has the scope to inhabit the additional playing time. There are, quite simply no dull spots. It can afford the additional time because the anthology nature of the film means that there is quite a lot of stylistic variety to the score, ranging from fantasy to comedy to noir to science fiction to horror... while the movie itself ends up being extremely uneven by any standard, the score manages to adapt to all of these genres whilst maintaining a specific identity.

Of course, you could look at any one of those same genres and point to at least one classic score for each written by Bernstein. Just off the cuff, The Black Cauldron, Ghostbusters, The Grifters, Slipstream and An American Werewolf in London... and I'm sure if I gave it more thought, I could come up with more examples in each. The notes even point out that the jaunty figure heard in "End of Baby" (part of "Harry and the Girl" on the original LP) is a moment straight out of The Magnificent Seven.
The shorthand Bernstein used to communicate with his orchestrators in Heavy Metal is a fascinating look at the nature of film collaboration. The comments quoted in these liner notes should not be interpreted in a "gotcha," vein because, in fact, this type of collaboration goes on all the time - it is just seldom chronicled in detail.
It is a shame that such a disclaimer is even necessary in the booklet. To be frank, I found breaking down the contributions of the orchestrators to have been the single most interesting aspect of the notes. It is indeed rare that we get to hear about this in any detail, and it was a nice tribute to how it works when it is working well. I defy anybody to make a case that this is anything other than an Elmer Bernstein score... one that David Spear contributed heavily to, but there is no mistaking who is the auteur here. The proof of the pudding is in the taste... or in this case, the sound.

This CD is insane.
Tags: elmer bernstein, film music, science fiction

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