Carl is on hand with his recommendations of the best soundtracks to listen to whilst in lockdown
To help beat the coronavirus blues, for the foreseeable future, members of team Future of the Force will be on hand with our recommendations of awesome soundtracks to listen to during the COVID-19 lockdown. Whether its lesser-known gems, Oscar-winning classics or just celebrating the best composers – we’ll be here to give you our top picks during this difficult time.
Star Trek III: The Search For Spock by James Horner
I love Jerry Goldsmith‘s scores for ‘Star Trek: The Motion Picture‘, ‘Star Trek V: The Final Frontier‘, ‘Star Trek: First Contact‘, ‘Star Trek: Insurrection‘ and ‘Star Trek: Nemesis‘. They are the scores that always come to mind whenever I think of music from the Star Trek franchise. Michael Giacchino’s scores for the rebooted films are brilliant in their own right but Goldsmith is the master. But let us consider a hypothetical question. IF Goldsmith hadn’t scored the films I’ve listed, IF the makers hadn’t come to him for the music for their films, IF we take his scores out of the equation, who would or could have provided a great musical score for them? The answer is completely simple. James Horner. When I first found out that Goldsmith wasn’t returning to score ‘Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan‘ I was extremely disappointed. No Goldsmith? The music would suck. And then I saw the movie. James Horner did the impossible. He created a completely sublime score. A score that was thrilling, enjoyable and suited the film and its contents like a hand into a glove. Add to that, his completely brilliant music and use of ‘Amazing Grace‘ for the films’ devastating ending left many fans, including myself in tears as we left the cinema. As the final scenes rolled across the screen, his music was haunting and tinged with great sadness. And then the filmmakers and Horner pulled off a heart-wrenching masterstroke. We see a galaxy full of stars and make our way amongst them as the late Leonard Nimoy utters the immortal opening monologue from the TV show with the classic Star Trek theme playing along with it. Sheer perfection.
When the sequel ‘Star Trek III: The Search For Spock‘ came out in 1984, I was heartened to find out that Horner had once again been retained to compose the score for the film. Immediately I knew the score would be fitting and perfect. And so it went. Film Score Monthly released the expanded scores for both of Horner’s Star Trek films, both in 2 disc editions. Disc one contained the expanded, complete score while disc two held the originally released albums from 1982 and 1984 respectively. I shall concentrate this article on the third films’ score and Horner’s second dive into the world Gene Roddenberry created.
As soon as the score starts, we realize we are in for an emotional ride. The music starts with a reprise of the themes present at the climax of the second film. Once again, we feel the lump in our throats as the events of the film are replayed, both on-screen and in the score. We are now taken through a slower, more emotional, sad opening credits musical piece, one that describes the feelings of the crew of the U.S.S Enterprise and the audience. Some of the music elicits feelings of hope and comfort before we are brought down again gently and back to our feelings of sadness at the loss of Spock at the denouement of the previous entry. We follow alongside Admiral Kirk as he tours the battle-damaged bridge of the Enterprise, surveying the damage before he comes to rest his hand on the vacant seat of his departed best friend. The music flows effortlessly as we move on. We now get our first encounter with the Klingons. The music moves up a notch and changes from emotional and soft to full metal clanging and cues that leave us in no doubt that these warriors are a serious threat, one we will encounter full force later on.
The score moves through its gears at its own pace, bringing us sorrow and hope one minute, the next anger, rage and plotting by the villains of the piece. And then we come across the track ‘Stealing The Enterprise‘. The track runs for 8 minutes and thirty-nine seconds and not one note, not one second of its track time is wasted. It is joyous and funny one second, the next serious and exciting as the tempo and the action starts to build. By around the quarter way through mark we know we are now fully on an adventure, one that will be fraught with danger, thrills, spills, and sadness and loss. One loss will be sad and upsetting, the other will devastate the audience as we say goodbye to a staple of the Star Trek universe. The track builds up until we get a blast that sends a shiver down our spines and brings the excitement levels up to a fantastic crescendo. We are now in no doubt that we are in for one hell of an emotional ride.
We start to settle down once more after the track ‘Grissom Destroyed‘ until the music begins to build again with the track ‘Bird Of Prey Decloaks‘. Again, the music starts off quietly before the tension starts to rise and builds up until Kirk gets what the audience already knows, that the Klingons are awaiting him and the Enterprise and goes to battle stations. Now the score kicks into overdrive, once again employing the best of Horner’s cues from ‘Star Trek II‘ to brilliant effect before the track ends.
The next track is one that toys and destroys the emotions of every ‘Trek‘ fan. ‘A Fighting Chance To Live‘ is the track that accompanies the destruction of the Enterprise. Yes, we are about to say a glorious and tragic farewell to the ship we have loved ever since the first episode of the original series. Her fate has already been sealed and Horner’s music brings us to the brink. We are hoping that something will be able to save her from her fiery death but the notes contained within the music gives us an answer we are frightened of. That she is going to die, she is going to serve her final purpose and save the lives of Kirk and his crew. Horner builds up to the moment and just before she starts to self destruct, gives the audience a spine-tingling piece of music depicting that there will be no escape for the Klingons who have descended on her bridge to plunder her secrets. Horner gives the Enterprise a dramatic, emotional and worthy piece of music for her send-off, one that brings us a semblance of hope amongst the sadness and despair of her demise. We hear her final voyage as she streaks across the sky, on fire and en route to her final resting place on Genesis.
We move quickly on as Kirk defeats and condemns the Klingon commander to a fiery death of his own at the climax of their fight on the Genesis surface in a brilliant piece of music that describes not only Kruge’s death but the death throes of the planet Genesis itself. We follow up with the dramatic and haunting ‘Returning To Vulcan‘. It is here that we are enraptured by the music and the feelings it evokes from us, the power that our time and journey with the Enterprise crew is nearing its climax draws from our emotions. It is a completely fulfilling piece of music, one that is now gladly here on the expanded score as it is heard in the film and not the truncated version that appeared on the original album and is replicated on the second disc. As the final notes fade away, we come across ‘The Katra Ritual‘. Here, Horner brings an almost religious tone to the score, the mystic, and mystery of the Vulcan ritual and the attempt to refuse Spock with his memories and his spirit that for the duration of the film have been dwelling in the mind of Dr. McCoy, threatening the lives of both he and Spock. If McCoy dies, then Spock’s consciousness dies with him. The music empowers this to the listener and again, drifts off quietly as it ends.
We come to the end of our time with Kirk and company as we reach ‘End Credits‘. The start of the track is enough to make us smile, to feel joy, relief and to send the tingle down the spine. The first thirty seconds to forty-five seconds once more brings us ‘The Star Trek TV Theme‘ in beautiful quality and clarity as it depicts the return of Spock and the revelation that the ritual has worked. As the film ends with the crew complete once more, a family that has been made whole again, the music builds up from the classic theme and launches into a reprise of the themes and music that ended the previous film. It is the perfect way to end our time with the crew this time around and we find ourselves clenching our fist as the track ends. But following this, we get the added bonus of having a ten-minute representation of the tunes from the bar scene which contains ‘That Old Black Magic‘, ‘Tangerine‘ and ‘I Remember You‘. The instrumental tracks are all merged here in a seamless playback that is used in the film as background music. Although it is not really an essential addition to the first disc, it is perfect for the completionist and is a nice touch.
James Horner sadly left us in an accident several years ago but not before leaving the film world with classic scores that live on. Whether it is ‘Krull‘, ‘Aliens‘ or ‘Avatar‘, his classic themes continue to enthrall and fascinate all the fans who loved and enjoyed his work. And with his two scores for two Star Trek films, he gave the world a look at what might have been had the studio had made the logical choice and hired him to score the fourth film before Goldsmith made his epic return to the franchise. Between Goldsmith and Horner, the franchise had some of the best music created for it. Grab yourself a seat on the bridge on the Enterprise, buckle up for action and let James Horner take you on a journey through the galaxy.
Stay safe and look after each other.
Let us know if you have any suggestions of great soundtracks our readers should check out and we’ll feature and share them with the FOTF community.
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Carl Roberts is a Senior Staff Writer and Books and Literature Correspondent for Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter @CarlRoberts2 where he uses the force frequently!