Silva America (SSD 1138)
Year Released: 1985 / 2002
Conducted by Jerry Goldsmith
|1.||Main Title / The Goblins||5:45|
|2.||My True Love's Eyes / The Cottage||5:04|
|4.||Living River / Bumps & Hollows / The Freeze||7:21|
|5.||The Faeries / The Riddle||4:52|
|6.||Sing the Wee||1:07|
|10.||Oona / The Jewels||6:40|
|11.||The Dress Waltz||2:47|
|Total Album Time:||70:02|
|by Matt Barry
on June 21st, 2004
Ridley Scott's 1985 fantasy extravaganza Legend is a peculiar film, to say the least. Looks gorgeous, plays flat. Rather like a dry run for one of George Lucas' Star Wars prequels. Truly, this is a movie where the behind-the-scenes teeth gnashing that begat its creation is entirely more compelling than the resulting film. Much has been made of the problems Scott had seeing Legend from script to screen: everything from drastic last-minute studio-encouraged re-cuts, to the soundstages burning to the ground.
The best tale, for us anyway, is the one centered around Legend's musical score. If you care enough to read these reviews, you probably already know it. But let me give the short version for the unindoctrinated: Scott hires Jerry Goldsmith, still spooked like a battered housewife from the manner in which his Alien score was knocked around in the actual film. Regardless, Goldsmith goes on to write for Legend what many regard as his magnum opus, inarguably a bold centerpiece to his other mid-80's impressionism / fantasy work. Think The Secret Of Nimh by way of Ravel's Daphnis Et Chloe.
So good was Goldsmith's Legend that, depending on who you talk to, a panic stricken Scott had to chop it to bits when he all-but-eviscerated his poorly-testing film. Worse than that, he let Universal honcho Sid Sheinberg completely replace Goldsmith's score for Legend's U.S. release with a mostly-synth, New Age-rock influenced score written and recorded by Tangerine Dream in some ungodly amount of time. Or so the legend goes. Har har. Sorry.
So here we are. It's 2002 and both versions of Legend, Goldsmith's and Tangerine Dream's, have just been pressed to DVD for all the world to see. Concurrent with this, Silva has re-released their seventy minute expanded album of Goldsmith's masterwork. It's got ugly new artwork to coincide with the DVD, and basically the same liner notes. Most importantly, it's got the exact same music. No improved sound here, no extra cues. I'm not trying to sound spoiled, just want to let folks know that if you've got Silva's old CD, don't bother with this one. They are ostensibly the same.
Alright, now that all that is out of the way, I think it's safe to dismiss all the hype and talk about Goldsmith's actual music. Many have called Legend his E.T. Is it really as good as all that? Well, in a word, yes. Yes, with a few caveats. For one, it's got singing. Not a lot, but apparently enough to freak out test audiences in 1985. It's really quite lovely in places ("Living River" and "Sing The Wee" come to mind), but if this kind of thing irritates you, be warned. Goldsmith wrote an opera here and it's got some singing.
If you can get past that, as well as the blatting electronics he incorporates for "The Goblins" and all of their subsequent thematic reprises, this is indeed one of Goldsmith's most beautiful and haunting scores to date. Contrary to his usual "one theme and a million variations" modus operandi, Goldsmith has a handful of motifs in Legend. All interrelated, all organic. We start with the atmospheric "Main Titles", and it is like taking a musical walk through an enchanted forest. Flutes and synths chitter away hypnotically, pulling the listener in.
The score's principal theme is a romantic motif for Jack (Tom Cruise) and Lily (Mia Sara), heard most soaringly in "The Ring" and sounding a bit like "Dream The Impossible Dream" from Man Of La Mancha. Sorry, Jerry. I mean no disrespect. Elsewhere, his baleful theme for a wounded unicorn intermingles nicely with his heroic theme for Jack in "Forgive Me", my personal favorite cut. Additionally, there are some wonderful set pieces hidden in the playlist here. "Faerie Dance" is a giddy, frantic whirl for fiddle and orchestra (for a scene which remains lost from even Scott's director's cut of the film). And the spooky, undulating "The Dress Waltz" is alone reason enough to buy the album.
If you call yourself a fan of Goldsmith, or of fantasy films at all, this album is probably already sitting on your shelf. If it isn't, Silva has given you another great opportunity to do so. It's definitely worth it.
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