Fall 2005 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Managing Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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Lord Jim / The Long Ships  
Music composed by Bronislau Kaper / Borislav Pašcan
This FSM release moves on to two productions from the Columbia studios and is drawn from two soundtracks albums released by Columbia’s COLPIX soundtracks albums: Lord Jim (COLPIX SCP/CP 521) and The Long Ships (COLPIX SCP 517)
  Available on Film Score Monthly Vol. 8, No. 11
Running Time: 79:00

Lord Jim [42:50]

Richard Brooks’s 1965 film of Joseph Conrad’s novel of adventure and redemption starred Peter O’Toole in the title role of the disgraced seaman, Jim, with James Mason, Eli Wallach , Paul Lukas and Kurt Jurgens.  Located in the South Pacific and around the Malay Archipelago, the film’s lush 70mm jungle photography around Angkor Wat near Siem Reap was by the celebrated Freddie Young (Lawrence of Arabia).

Bronislau Kaper worked on over 150 feature films and his compositions list included many literary adaptations including: Gaslight, Green Dolphin Street, The Red Badge of Courage, Green Mansions and The Red Badge of Courage. Lord Jim, was one of his greatest inspirations, particularly in his wonderfully colourful and imaginative use of gamelans and ethnic modes, apparent immediately in the opening cue, ‘Prologue - Lord Jim Theme’. This cue includes those ‘dark-chocolate’ tones of actor Jack Hawkins whose brief introductory narration sets the scene and precedes the stirring noble, almost spiritual theme for Jim.  The surging sea music of this marvellous opening cue is reminiscent of the Sheherazades of both Rimsky-Korsakov and Ravel. Lord Jim seeks salvation and redemption after abandoning a ship full of pilgrims en route to Mecca (as heard in the dissonant frenzied turbulent  strains of the early cue, ‘Patna’.)

There are many arresting cues.  ‘The Fire’ covers scenes on board a cargo ship when Jim conquers his fear and remains at his post after a terrorist has set it ablaze. The music is suitably frenzied and exciting – at one point curiously reminiscent of Kodály’s Háry János and then there is broad heroic sweeping material so reminiscent of Max Steiner. ‘River Journey’ is one of the highlights of the album featuring a Balinese chant for solo male voice and some more very suspenseful orchestral writing, wonderfully orchestrated with much entrancing gamelan music. The lovely elegy, ‘Compassion’, for that part of the film in which the disgraced Jim undertakes menial jobs in the South Pacific begins in a slow tread with music redolent of world weariness before the atmosphere grows sweeter and more noble (with gorgeous fiddle and cello solos).  The ‘Intermission’ music grandiloquently reprises the heroic main title theme together with colourful location evocations.  ‘The Girl from Patusan’ is beautifully, sadly romantic and, interestingly, more akin to British folk music with lovely writing for the harp. The gamelan and ethnic music is probably at its most virtuosic and imaginative in the concluding half of  ‘Sunrise, Victory and Celebration’.

The accompanying booklet, in addition to providing a track-by-track analysis and notes on the career of Kaper, also gives fascinating glimpses of the production of the film and draws interesting parallels between Lord Jim and the similar storyline of the 1979 Coppola production of Apocalyps Now (itself loosely based on Conrad’s novel, Heart of Darkness).

The Long Ships [36:01]

The Long Ships (1963) was a Viking adventure that roved south into North Africa thus providing something of a camp culture clash. It was directed by cinematographer Jack Cardiff and it starred Richard Widmark, Sidney Poitier, Russ Tamblyn and Rosanna Schiaffino.

The score, by European composer Dušan Radic, is dominated by its surging Main Title theme which is memorable and arresting but is repeated ad nauseum throughout this part of the album. The music, as befits Viking raiders, is exciting and barbaric (think of Franz Waxman’s ‘The Ride to Dubno’ from Taras Bulba and you will know what I mean). Radic’s suspense music and cues like the colourful and wittily evocative ‘The Mare of Steel’, are influenced by the Russian Nationalist school; and his Arabic-orientated music (cues ‘El Mansuh’ and ‘El Ghazel’) is forceful and trenchant and sounds more authentically Middle Eastern than material created by many Hollywood composers.

An unusual, sometimes curious score with some interesting harmonies and unusual orchestrations but it does not hold the attention as much as Kaper’s Lord Jim. The electronic’ stereo sound is not too good especially in the opening cue.

Ian Lace

Lord Jim: 4.5
The Long Ships: 3

Film Score Monthly News Release:

This doubleheader features two Colpix Records LPs: Lord Jim (1965) and The Long Ships (1963). Both are melodic symphonic scores from historical adventures.

Lord Jim was filmmaker Richard Brooks' adaptation of Joseph Conrad's novel about a disgraced British seaman (Peter O'Toole) who seeks redemption in the furthest reaches of Southeast Asia. Bronislau Kaper's transcendent score -- one of the last major works from the composer of Mutiny on the Bounty and other epics -- features a powerful main theme and beautiful secondary melodies for Jim's spiritual journey and romance with a native girl (Daliah Lavi). The balance of Kaper's score features symphonic action music as well as authentic source cues for gamelans.

The Long Ships was a Viking adventure directed by renowned cinematographer Jack Cardiff. Somewhat goofy in tone, it starred Richard Widmark as a flippant Norseman and Sidney Poitier as a Moorish sheik in a race for a "Golden Bell" which contains the lion's share of the world's gold. The score by Yugoslavian composer Dusan Radic is an exciting sword-and-sandal-style effort with a stirring main theme and rhythmic setpieces.

FSM's premiere CD of Lord Jim/The Long Ships features each LP program remastered from the original 1/4" stereo album tapes. New liner notes are by Jeff Bond and Lukas Kendall.

Lord Jim
  1. Prologue -- Lord Jim Theme 3:31
  2. Patna 3:27
  3. The Fire 3:41
  4. River Journey 3:23
  5. Compassion 3:27
  6. Intermission 3:06
  7. The Girl From Patusan 3:00
  8. Sunrise, Victory and Celebration 5:25
  9. A Man in Search 2:45
  10. Father and Son 1:57
  11. Four Generations 2:43
  12. The Color of Love (Kaper-Russell) 3:02
  13. Epilogue 2:42
The Long Ships
  1. The Long Ships -- Main Title 3:04
  2. Testing the Long Ships 3:28
  3. Midnight in Skandia 2:57
  4. El Mansuh 3:20
  5. El Ghazel 2:13
  6. In Search of the Golden Bell 2:46
  7. The Pillars of Hercules 3:41
  8. The Mare of Steel 3:10
  9. Maelstrom 2:51
  10. The Golden Bell 2:44
  11. Ambush in the City 2:22
  12. The Long Ships -- End Title

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