September 2000 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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Richard MARVIN
  RMCD 01   [62:13]

It is unusual these days for a Hollywood blockbuster not to have at least one soundtrack album, yet this belated release of Richard Marvin's music from the World War II submarine adventure U-571 is a promo only issue. For such a successful film this is really quite strange, explained perhaps by the uninspiring nature of the music. The sequencing of the album is a further oddity: track 1 is "End Credits #1" while track 5 is "Finale and Dedication", after which there are a further 18 tracks, leading to "Quiet Theme (End Credits #2).

The first "End Credits" introduces the main theme, which is the sort of would-be heroic piece, complete with military snare, which has been overdone to the point of utter cliché by endless additions to the Star Trek universe. "Final and Dedication" is big, sweeping and somewhat stirring, and reminds me very much of some music from a much more respectable film which frustratingly I can't currently put a name to. The remainder of the score alternates generic suspense cues with generic action cues, the latter a relentless barrage of percussion which might serve as a short-cut to on-screen excitement, but rapidly becomes tedious on disc. There is little in the way of theme or development, simply another modern all out assault which may be a little more listenable than Battlefield Earth, but still seems to equate quantity of sound and fury with quality. Hans Zimmer's Gladiator, which I actually enjoyed, is subtle by comparison.

In his liner notes director Jonathan Mostow says that may people have told him they are surprised by how patriotic the film makes them feel, something he attributes entirely to Richard Marvin's "clever and inspired work." This is very generous, but Mostow entirely neglects the question of why people, by which it appears he means the mainstream American audience, should feel any sense of patriotism watching a film which steals genuine British heroism and sacrifice and lends it to an America not even in the Second World War at the time the events occurred. In short, this is an overblown bluster of a sub (pun intended) Star Trek score for a disgrace of a film. For an exceptional score for a very different submarine drama try Christopher Gordon's album from the Hallmark mini-series version of On the Beach, which I also review this month on FMOTW. Now that is the best new OST I've heard this year.

Gary S. Dalkin



Gary S. Dalkin


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