Summer 2005 Film Music CD Reviews

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

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Atlantis: The Lost Continent / The Power  
Music composed by Frank Cordell / Miklós Rózsa
  Available from Film Score Monthly via Screen Archives: FSMCD Vol. 8, No. 2
(For details, track listing and FSM press release, see below review)
Running Time: 76:04
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This album presents the scores for two science fiction / fantasy films made by producer George Pal, most celebrated for his two HG Wells’ adaptations, The War of the Worlds (1953) and The Time Machine (1960). The latter was scored by Russell Garcia, who followed Pal straight onto the much less successful Atlantis The Lost Continent.

If Garcia remains a little known name to film music aficionados, that has nothing to do with a lack of ability, but rather concerns the fact that he scored a mere handful of films over a career which saw him as bandleader, conductor, trumpeter, arranger, songwriter and composer. On the evidence of the music on this disc it is clear had his career taken a different direction he could have become an A listHollywoodcomposer with a string of major features to his credit. Atlantis The Lost Continent would never have been one of them though, a half-baked, under-budgeted muddle pitched somewhere between Edgar Rice-Borroughs and the then popular sword and sandal adventures which followed in the wake of Quo Vadis and Ben-Hur. The film even includes stock footage from Quo Vadis, which along with some of the special effects and Russell Garcia’s music prove the most enduring aspects of a disappointing production. The current album contains the complete score in excellent stereo sound taken from the original 3 track 35mm masters.

If some of the aggressive action music recalls the composer’s work on The Time Machine, elsewhere a richly orchestrated sense of fantasy prevails. Garcia’s themes are suitably colourful and romantic, with a voice which while clearly in theHollywoodtradition of the time has a character of its own. From a lyrical portrait of a “Mermaid” (with shades of Debussy) to a “Love Scene” with the tender lyricism of Bernard Herrmann to stirring “Fanfares” to a finale spanning ethereal strings to all out orchestral mayhem, “Prayer / Justice / Miracle” Garcia’s writing continually holds the attention and impresses with its invention and melodic craft. It would have been nice to know what he might have done with a much better film for inspiration.

The Power dates from 1968 and is another of George Pal’s less successful features, his only venture into a more adult form of science fiction horror. The film is based on a novel by Frank M. Robinson, who also provided half the source material for The Towering Inferno (his novel The Glass Inferno). A film scored by  John Williams and eventually released on CD by FSM. The Power however looks forward to the telekinetic SF horror of the 1970’s, particularly as blended with espionage in Brian De Palma’s The Fury (1978), a drama also scored by John Williams and resulting in one of his finest works.

Miklós Rózsa provided the music for The Power, the composer’s one and only venture into this sort of territory. The score is notable for marking Rózsa’s return to the screen after a five year absence following The VIPs in 1963.  An absence brought about by the end of the composer’s relationship with MGM and his concentration on writing classical works (particularly a cello and a piano concerto). While many of Miklós Rózsa’s familiar orchestral devices are present and the five year break did nothing to change his style of composition, the addition of a cimbalom to the score lends it a distinctive quality. The instrument was used at Pal’s behest, perhaps inspired by the popularity of its unique sound in John Barry’s score for espionage drama The Ipcress File three years before.

One highlight is the ferocious, out of control waltz “The Merry-Go-Round”, which anticipates Miklós Rózsa’s chase music from Time After Time (1979), and also makes for a most interesting comparison with John Williams’ “Death on the Carousel” from The Fury. Gypsy violin comes to the fore in “Gypsy Eyes (Theme from The Power)” while attractive Spanish guitar writing offers a contrasting flavour to “Viva L’Amor”.

The complete score to The Power is sadly lost, the current tracks being those assembled by Tony Thomas in cooperation with Rózsa for a 1978 “private pressing”. The current disc marks the first legitimate public release of these pieces, which spanning 30 minutes give a strong representation of the soundtrack. For instance the relentless “Disappointment / Pursuit”, while very familiar in style to followers of the composer’s music must count as some of the finest action music Rózsa ever wrote. The sound is not the finest, but is powerfully compelling, and is in any case as good as we are ever going to get. Most should find it perfectly acceptable.

If neither score represented on this album could be called truly essential both are worthy of addition to any serious film music collection. The Garcia is something of a revelation from a little known name, while the Rózsa shows a slightly different facet, and some very dynamic writing, from one of film music’s biggest names.

Gary Dalkin

4.5

FSM Press Release:

This CD features two classic scores for George Pal films in their definitive stereo editions: Atlantis: The Lost Continent (1961) and The Power (1968).

Atlantis: The Lost Continentwas one of George Pal's less-successful productions, a chronicle of the legendary lost continent of Altantis. Anthony Hall (actually a singer/songwriter named Sal Panto) played Demetrios, a Greek fisherman who ends up leading a revolution against Atlantis' corrupt ruling class. The film blended sword-and-sandal adventure with the fantasy elements and special effects for which Pal was known.

Scoring Atlantis: The Lost Continent was Russell Garcia, who the year before had produced a memorable science fiction score for Pal's The Time Machine. Garcia carried over his romantic, full-blooded approach from The Time Machine for Atlantis, providing fully developed melodies and aggressive action music. Atlantis has previously been released only in excerpts; this is the complete score, including passages deleted from the finished film.

The Power(1968) was one of George Pal's most offbeat films, starring George Hamilton as the head of a government think tank attempting to track down "Adam Hart," a mysterious mastermind with mental powers beyond that of ordinary humans. The film marked the return to cinema of Miklos Rozsa (who had not scored a film since 1963), who was more than able to accompany the film's noir-like plot, fantasy elements and suspense. At Pal's request, Rozsa interpolated the Hungarian cymbalom instrument as a flamboyant color; both Rozsa and Pal were Hungarian, as was the character of Adam Hart.

The Powerhas previously been available in unauthorized form on LP and CD. Unfortunately, the complete master tapes to the film have deteriorated beyond use, so this "private" 29:39 album program is all that survives of the original soundtrack. It is presented here in its first authorized edition, remastered from Citadel Records' original 1/4" stereo tape.

Track List

Atlantis: The Lost Continent
Music Composed and Conducted by Russell Garcia

1. Main Title/Credits 1:34
   2. Mermaid 2:59
   3. Exit/Antillia/Market Place 2:19
   4. Happy Chase 1:05
   5. Stolen Boat 1:06
   6. The Bargain/Pillars of Hercules 1:25
   7. Lost/Hallucinations1:57
   8. Love Scene/Submarine Scene 5:21
   9. Atlantis 0:59
  10. Kidnapped/Slavery 2:34
  11. Anger/TheTemple 3:02
  12. Temple Surprise/Loop #8 1:06
  13. Fanfares 0:46
  14. Fight With Giant3:41
  15. War/Decision/Map1:30
  16. Work Montage/Manimal 2:38
  17. Harps/Rejected/Proposal 3:09
  18. Rebellion and Murder/Search/Trumpets 2:50
  19. Stabs/Rumbles/Madness 2:04
  20. Prayer/Justice/Miracle 3:29

Total Time: 46:19

The Power
Music Composed and Conducted by Miklos Rozsa

  21. Prelude 2:48
  22. First Manifestation/Hallison Dies/Death in the Centrifuge/Recognition 4:22
  23. The Merry-Go-Round 2:25
  24. Viva L'Amour 2:50
  25. Nocturnal Visit/Attack 1:36
  26. Gypsy Eyes (Theme From The Power) 2:30
  27. Disappointment/Pursuit 3:46
  28. Babble Pit/The Revolver 2:40
  29. Adam Hart/Transformation 3:50
  30. The Killer Killed/The End/End Cast 2:29

Total Time: 29:39

Total Disc Time: 76:04

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