Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Soundtrack of the Month: October 2014

Welcome to the third installment of this blog series. In honor of a certain film's 20th anniversary, I present to you David Arnold's incredible score to the 1994 film Stargate. The film would spawn what was to become one of the greatest science fiction franchises of all time. I will be specifically covering the deluxe edition of the soundtrack, which contains a few track title corrections and several additional tracks.

David Arnold composed the music to the film, but when the rights for the Stargate story were later transferred to television creators Brad Wright and Jonathan Glassner to create the TV series Stargate SG-1, the job of composing was also handed off to Joel Goldsmith (son of legendary composer Jerry Goldsmith). Over time Goldsmith would create many incredible themes for the ever-growing franchise, but from the beginning a lot of the music was heavily based on Arnold's score from the original movie. The title theme of SG-1, remaining through all ten years of the series's run, was a rendition of one of the original film's themes.

The point being made is that while the television franchise differed greatly from the vision of the creators of the original film, much of the original music remained all throughout the series. It was that memorable, and it was that good.

If you know me, you know I'm a huge Stargate fan. In fact, I recently rewatched the entire franchise, from beginning to end (over 350 episodes and three movies). In addition to that, I own every Stargate soundtrack ever released, aside from the non-deluxe edition of this movie score. There were only a total of six releases (plus this deluxe edition), but it certainly cost me to collect them all. Only two of the releases are still in print. I'm a collector, though, so I just had to get them all.

Something that sets aside the original Stargate film from its television legacy is the sense of mystery surrounding the Stargate itself. What is it? Where does it lead? What will they find on the other side? All of this mystery and intrigue are incorporated into the score. Ancient Egyptian themes are throughout, providing a unique feel to run alongside and fit in with the movie. Overall, there are few movie scores as majestic and unique as this one. We can only hope that Arnold returns to score the upcoming Stargate reboot trilogy.

One more thing that sets apart the composer of the film and the composer of the television franchise is that, while they use many of the same themes, Arnold and his full orchestra give a feeling of grandeur to the score, whereas Goldsmith's score is often a lot more subtle. They're two very different styles, yet both sound incredible.

Featured Tracks
Yes, I know this section is supposed to be set aside for three of my favorite tracks, but sometimes soundtracks have so many tracks it's next to impossible to select only three. I created the rule, so I can break it as I see fit. In fact, next month I plan on breaking it even further (but for good reason).

Track 1: Stargate Overture – This amazing theme is how the movie begins. Many years later, after Stargate SG-1 would run its ten-year course, the series received a television movie to conclude the story. That movie's score began with the exact same composition, this time arranged by Joel Goldsmith. The difference was that where the original version deviates at a certain point to an incredible choir section representing the villain Ra, Goldsmith's version deviates to an incredible choir section representing the Ori (the then-antagonists of the television series). It's a great throwback to this film.

Track 3: Giza 1928 – As with "Stargate Overture", this track is filled with themes that would later be used throughout the television series. This is, however, one of the coolest renditions of these themes ever arranged by either composer.

Track 22: Ra - The Sun God – This is the theme of Ra, the villain of the movie. This incredible piece of score was later rearranged for the pilot of Stargate SG-1, no longer representing Ra himself, but instead simply representing his race, the Goa'uld. (Note: There are some... differences between the continuity of the original film and the continuity of the television franchise. Those will be addressed at a later time.)

Track 32: Battle at the Pyramid – This track scores five (rather awesome) minutes of the film's climax. Quite memorable, and flows through a number of the film's musical themes.

Stargate: The Deluxe Edition is out of print, but you can still purchase it digitally from iTunes.
You can listen to it for free on YouTube.

1 comment:

  1. I don't even like to call this a SCORE or a SOUNDTRACK. Those words seem far beneath this offering by, then brand new, composer David Arnold. The sounds and detail are so rich on every track. The cracks of base, the Egyptian vocals, the moments that seem to utilize every player of the orchestra to the extreme. I never tire of this music. It's deep, it's angry, it's soft and it's adventurous. I could write about the great details of this album all day, but instead let me just say, for the record, that I have well over a thousand CD's/MP3's in my library and Stargate rests it the top five, easily.