Fimucite 3: Jerry Goldsmith - 80th Birthday CelebrationVarese Sarabande Club (VCL 0511 1122)
Released: June 6, 2011
Formats: CD, Digital (54 min)
Review: Illustrated Man, The
4 / 5 Stars
Just glancing at the liner notes to Film Score Monthly's latest Silver Age Classic, Jerry Goldsmith's long sought-after score to the 1969 Ray Bradbury anthology film The Illustrated Man, you can tell how psyched Lukas Kendall and Jeff Bond were to be spearheading such a magnificent and long-overdue release. Even more so than their usual standard of greatness, FSM's Illustrated Man is obviously a labor of love, perfectly preserving Goldsmith's haunting original tracks with both stunning clarity and vibrant dynamics, as well as providing a history of director Jack Smight's overlooked gem and a masterful track by track analysis of the music. If there's one thing that's glaringly obvious from this and his fabulous Twilight Zone: The Movie, it's that Goldsmith knows how to do anthology films like no other composer alive.
The score's central figure is a sad, unsettlingly circular motif for female voice and orchestra, presented outright in the "Main Title" and bubbling to the surface frequently in various permutations throughout the entire forty-two minute run time. Tracks like "The House", "The Illustrations", and "Felicia" incorporate some spooky and low-key atonalities that to my ears prefigure Poltergeist, as well as the lyrical impressionism of Legend. As in the film, Goldsmith returns to these textures in between the film's interpolated stories. Particularly effective are the grunting contrabass of "The Lion", and the echoplexed flute featured in "The Rocket" (and more famously in Star Trek: The Motion Picture).
For "The Veldt", the first of Bradbury's side stories, Goldsmith boldly turns to electronics almost exclusively. "21st Century House" features blatting synths that sound a lot like what the composer would incorporate for Gremlins 15 years later, and it's not until the ferocious "Quiet Evening" that the orchestra returns in full force. In the film, the segment "The Long Rain" features almost no underscore, save the opening segue of "The Rain" and the jarring and climactic "The Sun Dome", but the segment "The Last Night Of The World" goes the exact oppposite route, heavily relying on Goldsmith's mastery to convey a seemingly-genteel but sinister future society. "Almost A Wife" is a lengthy standout, containing some inspired faux-Renaissance passages, and "The Morning After" brings the segment to a terrifying conclusion. The film and score ultimately round out with a return to the central figure again, brought to a powerful end in "The House Is Gone" and the shockingly aggressive "Frightened Willie".
This is one disc Goldsmith collectors should not be without, as the Maestro himself has rightly recollected this work as one of his best and most effective. Caveat emptor on one count, though: if you are only a fan of the latter day Jerry Goldsmith who fashioned such bombastic treats as U.S. Marshalls and Air Force One, bear in mind that Illustrated Man is a much subtler, nearly chamber-sized affair from a composer whose versatility is legendary, but whose voice in unmistakeable.