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Dragonslayer
(1981)
Album Cover Art
1990 SCSE
2010 La-La Land
Album 2 Cover Art
Composed, Conducted, and Co-Produced by:
Alex North

Orchestrated by:
Henry Brandt

Co-Produced by:
Len Engel

Performed by:
The National Philharmonic Orchestra
Labels Icon
LABELS & RELEASE DATES
Soundtrack Collector's Special Editions
(1990)

La-La Land Records
(March 23rd, 2010)
Availability Icon
ALBUM AVAILABILITY
Only 2,750 copies were printed by the SCSE label in the early 1990's. The first 2,000 existed under the 'SCSE CD-3' identifier, with the 750 'Gold Edition' repressing using 'SCSE CD-3-G'. Both versions have sold for more than $100. The 2010 La-La Land album is limited to 3,000 copies and sold at soundtrack specialty outlets for a retail price of $20.
Awards
AWARDS
Nominated for an Academy Award.
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ALSO SEE




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Availability | Awards | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Audio & Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... if you specifically appreciate Alex North's large-scale action scores with avant garde tendencies that play more like classical symphonies rather than film scores appropriate to a specific genre.

Avoid it... if your sword and sorcery scores need to have bold thematic statements, easily recognizable progressions, distinct action pieces, and, like the film, a tone fitting even the most basic parameters of genre expectations.
Review Icon
EDITORIAL REVIEW
FILMTRACKS TRAFFIC RANK: #650
WRITTEN 8/10/97, REVISED 9/15/10
North
North
Dragonslayer: (Alex North) When you look back at the sword and sorcery age in Hollywood (otherwise known as the early to mid-1980's), it's hard to figure out exactly what drew so many people to that particular fascination with fantasy all in one short term. The special effects advancements of George Lucas' Industrial Light & Magic were the obvious reason, though escapism in general was a logical reaction to the grittier fare of the early 1970's. Director Matthew Robbins' take on the Dark Ages was more realistic than all of its contemporary peers, and the film was aided by early efforts by ILM to create the most stunning dragon ever seen on screen at that time. The fact that it was a Walt Disney production was one of its most deceptive aspects; parents expecting their children to see a whimsical tale of swords and sorcery were treated to a grim, gory, and depressing reflection of American socio-political disillusionment in the context of the Dark Ages. Even within its genre, the acting and the plot were also significant problems. Imagine the fallacy of logic here: one young female virgin has to be sacrificed every year to a nasty dragon up on a hill neighboring the local village, and a lottery is conducted to see who will be fed to the beast. The lottery is rigged, of course, but why doesn't anybody in the village figure out the obvious and easier way to disqualify all the young women? Such things don't get addressed in Dragonslayer, along with magic amulets, a resurrected sorcerer, and an eclipse, none of which are convincingly established in such a way as to make much sense (unless, perhaps, you want to make comparisons to the Richard Nixon administration). Luckily for all of them, the completely defocused score doesn't make much sense either. For film music collectors, the era was marked with a series of large-scale, ethnically diverse epics, leading to its pinnacle with James Horner's Willow in 1988 before a monumentally embraced renaissance in 2001 with Howard Shore's The Lord of the Rings trilogy. But even before then, scores by Basil Poledouris, Trevor Jones, and Horner captured our attention with their bold themes and robust orchestral employment for the genre, extensions of the Wagnerian adaptation by John Williams to epic fantasies in the late 1970's.

The name you often don't associate with the others is Alex North, a man seemingly out of place among all the young, rising stars of the digital age. North was in the latter stages of his career by 1980's, but still a favorite of film score collectors and the Academy, which honored the composer with an Oscar nomination for Dragonslayer opposite Chariots of Fire and Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1982. He was long removed from his great epics of decades prior, seemingly content concluding his career with small-scale dramas that did not require the monumental orchestral prowess of Spartacus and Cleopatra. Compared to its contemporaries in the genre, North's music easily stands out as a continuation of his trademark, unorthodox styles rather than a consistent entry along the other scores that, for the most part, have garnered much more long-standing praise. So was North mis-assigned to Dragonslayer? Not necessarily. His capabilities with a large ensemble have never been questioned. His knowledge of ethnic and historical variety was considerable. His instrumentation was often extremely creative, especially in the percussion section. His popularity in the industry ranked him among legends. The production sought a more challenging environment than other sorcery epics, begging for a less linear musical identity. Unfortunately for Dragonslayer, North's music tended to intellectualize a subject to death (specialty instruments include three log drums, two parade drums, two grand pianos, a tack piano, a clavitimbre, a harpsichord, bell trees, a large organ, a thunder sheet, and a wind machine), and what the sword and sorcery films of the 1980's required was a simplistic transparency of construct to balance the otherwise awkward worlds and plots displayed on screen. North's score for Dragonslayer is highly layered, complex, and intelligent, but so much so in every regard that he completely loses all the primordial excitement and magic inherent in the genre. As Trevor Jones has often remarked, the job of a composer in this kind of genre is to balance the alienating fantasy elements on screen that audiences cannot relate to in their own set of experiences with music that is rooted in a palette that those audiences can indeed understand.



Ratings Icon
VIEWER RATINGS
305 TOTAL VOTES
Average: 2.68 Stars
***** 69 5 Stars
**** 45 4 Stars
*** 27 3 Stars
** 50 2 Stars
* 114 1 Stars
  (View results for all titles)

Comments Icon
COMMENTS
27 TOTAL COMMENTS
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I like it although it doesn't work on every level
Flo - September 25, 2010, at 4:25 p.m.
1 comment  (988 views)
One of the most accompished film scores ever written   Expand >>
Erik Woods - September 23, 2010, at 12:37 p.m.
3 comments  (2059 views)
Newest: September 23, 2010, at 5:47 p.m. by
dts
1 star??'Is this a joke?? *NM*
Bernardo - September 23, 2010, at 3:17 a.m.
1 comment  (593 views)
Wow...
Mikal - September 22, 2010, at 9:38 p.m.
1 comment  (664 views)
"Slain" by Alex North's musical gifts, again.
Stewart Sesuande - May 26, 2010, at 12:05 a.m.
1 comment  (850 views)
Each to their own
John - May 30, 2009, at 7:53 a.m.
1 comment  (900 views)
More...


Track Listings Icon
TRACK LISTINGS AND AUDIO
Audio Samples   ▼
1990 SCSE Albums Tracks   ▼Total Time: 62:40
Incorrect Track Listings on Album:

• 1. Urlander's Mission (Main Titles) (2:44)
• 2. "No Sorcerers, No Dragons!" (1:45)
• 3. Hodge's Death (2:15)
• 4. Forest Romp (1:29)
• 5. The Lair (1:46)
• 6. Valerian & Galen's Romance (1:54)
• 7. Tyrian & Galen Fight (2:11)
• 8. Jacopus Blasted (2:21)
• 9. Galen Jailed/Galen's Escape (1:16)
• 10. Ulrich's Death/Mourning (5:49)
• 11. Galen's Search for the Amulet (3:11)
• 12. Maiden's Sacrifice (6:57)
• 13. Elspeth's Destiny/Dragon's Scales (2:29)
• 14. Vermithrax's Lair/Landslide (4:29)
• 15. Dragon's Flight/Burning Villages (2:14)
• 16. The Lottery (3:14)
• 17. Elspeth at the Stake/Vermithrax's Triumph/Galen's Encounter (5:46)
• 18. Galen's Desperation & Spirit Revitalized (1:50)
• 19. Eclipse/Love & Hope (2:38)
• 20. Resurrection of Ulrich (2:29)
• 21. "Destroy That Amulet!"/Ulrich Explodes/Vermithrax's Plunge (6:38)
• 22. The White Horse; Into the Sunset (End Credits) (4:30)


Corrected Track Listings*:

• 1. Urlander's Mission (Main Titles) (2:45)
• 2. "No Sorcerers, No Dragons!" (1:48)
• 3. Ulrich's Death/Mourning (2:15)
• 4. Maiden's Sacrifice (4:25)
• 5. Forest Romp (1:31)
• 6. Hodge's Death (3:36)
• 7. Galen's Search for the Amulet (2:24)
• 8. Vermithrax's Lair/Landslide (4:11)
• 9. Valerian & Galen's Romance (1:57)
• 10. Tyrian & Galen Fight (2:14)
• 11. Jacopus Blasted (2:24)
• 12. Elspeth's Destiny/Dragon's Scales (2:17)
• 13. Galen Jailed/Galen's Escape (2:15)
• 14. Dragon's Flight/Burning Villages (2:15)
• 15. The Lottery (3:16)
• 16. Elspeth at the Stake/Vermithrax's Triumph/Galen's Encounter (5:46)
• 17. Galen's Desperation & Spirit Revitalized (1:52)
• 18. Eclipse/Love & Hope (2:40)
• 19. Resurrection of Ulrich (2:32)
• 20. "Destroy That Amulet!"/Ulrich Explodes/Vermithrax's Plunge (6:40)
• 21. The White Horse; Into the Sunset (End Credits) (4:30)
* compiled by Filmtracks in 1997
2010 La-La Land Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 73:24

Notes Icon
NOTES AND QUOTES
The inserts of both the 1990 and 2010 albums include detailed information about the score and film. All copies of the SCSE album were numbered.
Copyright © 1997-2017, Filmtracks Publications. All rights reserved.
The reviews and other textual content contained on the filmtracks.com site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten
or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from Dragonslayer are Copyright © 1990, 2010, Soundtrack Collector's Special Editions, La-La Land Records and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 8/10/97 and last updated 9/15/10.
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