The Music of John Barry: The Definitive CollectionSilva Screen (SILCD1445)
Released: May 5, 2014
Formats: CD, Digital (432 min)
Review: Raise the Titanic
4 / 5 Stars
One of the most highly sought-after John Barry scores has finally seen the light of day. While Raise the Titanic was not exactly a box office smash, the sweeping score that Barry wrote for it was so lyrical and thematic that film music fans were literally begging for a release. A short (8:25) suite was finally released on "The Classic John Barry" in 1993 on Silva Records. But having waited 13 years and only getting a short suite was not going to satisfy those desperately needing this score. There were talks of releasing it, but it was said that the original recordings were lost. So Nick Raine, who had worked as Barry's orchestrator, once again reunited with the City of Prague Philharmonic orchestra to record the complete score to Raise The Titanic nearly 20 years after the film was released. This album, which runs just over 50 minutes in length, contains the entire film score as reconstructed and arranged by Raine.
Beginning with a rousing prelude similar to his fanfare from The Black Hole, we are presented with the main theme of the Titanic, which is a very optimistic theme - with no hint of the disaster to come. In "Main Title / The Mine Shaft", however, we are presented with the classic Barry style: brooding horns with lyrical strings performing in an almost dreamlike manner. This theme shows up a few more times in the score, mostly associated with any deep-sea exploration of the Titanic. There are quite a few suspenseful cues, done in such a way that a close friend of mine who is a Barry aficionado has referred to this score as a James Bond score without the James Bond theme. I would have to concur. "The Sicilian Project / Dog Attack" is a perfect example of just what I mean.
"Gene Explores the Titanic / Deep Quest Trapped" presents a lovely variation on the "exploration" theme, and turns rather suspenseful when the Deep Quest submersible becomes trapped - the use of tremolo strings and flute with hard brass hits which has become associated with Barry is used perfectly. But it is this "Barry style" which also works against the score - as it feels a bit too much like many of the other scores he wrote around the late 1970's / early 1980's, it almost becomes predictable in what we're going to hear next.
Based on the novel of the same name, Raise the Titanic was certainly a page-turner. The film, as most book adaptations tend to be, left something to be desired - in fact it was said that the book's author, Clive Cussler, would never allow another film adaptation of his novels. This is too bad, since the adventures of Dirk Pitt have been so good that to make films from them could easily spawn a multi-billion dollar franchise. Today, however, Raise the Titanic is a very dated film - after all, the book and subsequent movie were created in a time where the Titanic still hadn't been found - and was assumed to be in one piece, which we know to be false. But one thing that did come from the film was Barry's score which can easily stand alone as a shining example of his scoring style around 1980.