Slammed by the critics, loved by audiences, this weird western, with its
jaw-dropping special effects, including neck-seeking razor-frisbees and 80-ft
high steam-powered mechanical spiders, must have been quite a challenge to
Elmer Bernstein. He has risen to it by creating a rip-roaring and amusing
score that embraces practically every musical genre that you can think of.
The first track immediately sets out the conflict between the traditional
old west and the new mechanical age. Bernstein uses uses the theremin (sounding
like a demented musical saw) against whirling percussion and swift monotonous
piano chords to evoke remorseless, relentless, impersonal machinery, then
he counterpoints one of his bracing high-spirited Western themes reminiscent
of The Magnificent Seven.
The mechanical evocations thread their way through the score with Bernstein
using great imagination and resourcefulness in harmony and orchestration.
The score is often very colourfully witty especially in East meets
West and Of Rita, Rescue and Revenge in which there are
some quite off-colour glissandos and other peculiar effects. Sometimes he
will use weird jazz-inflected music again with the theremin giving it an
The most interesting cue is the kaleidoscopic Lovelesss Plan
Beginning with a guitar solo over rambling woodwinds that quietly contemplate
a western theme in Coplandesque style, the music passes through a bewildering
series of transformations. First, we hear solemn organ chords that introduce
a noble Elgarian theme (with chorus joining in in Handelian mode). Then castanets
interrupt a rendition of God Save the Queen, to introduce a few
bars of Baroque music which then becomes an electronic "escaping-steam" caper
with guitar. Suspense, creepy figures follow with the most extraordinary
music of all a sort of demented mechanical belly dance presumably for the
mechanical spider as it lumbers over the desert?
An extraordinarily colourful, exciting and witty score for an OTT movie.