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Fantastic Voyage
1998 FSM

2014 La-La Land

Composed and Conducted by:
Leonard Rosenman

Produced by:
Jeff Bond
Lukas Kendall
Nick Redman

Labels and Dates:
Film Score Monthly
(November, 1998)

La-La Land Records
(January 7th, 2014)

Audio Clips:
1998 Album:

2. The Proteus (0:30):
WMA (191K)  MP3 (239K)
Real Audio (168K)

9. Cora Trapped (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

12. Get the Laser (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

13. Optic Nerve/End Cast (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

The 1998 album was a Silver Age Classics product (FSMCD Vol. 1, No. 3) limited to 3,000 pressings and available through the FSM site or online soundtrack specialty outlets. It was sold out as of 2007. The 2014 La-La Land Records re-issue album is limited to 2,000 copies and available primarily through the same soundtrack specialty outlets for an initial price of $20.


Fantastic Voyage
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Buy it... only if you are already explicitly aware of Leonard Roseman's score for the film and, like many collectors, waited decades to hear its alternately challenging and revolutionary techniques on album.

Avoid it... if you don't care for the consistently messy layers of atonal dissonance that Rosenman can often produce, especially considering the relative rarity of the album releases for the score.

Fantastic Voyage: (Leonard Roseman) When 20th Century Fox debuted Fantastic Voyage in 1966, it was a technological triumph on film. Its ingenious sets and special effects brought immediate box office success and the film's visuals were so stunningly accurate in their portrayal of the insides of a human body (physiology experts were brought on board the production to advise at every turn, literally) that some of those depictions would later be used in documentaries. The purpose of the film is to show a crew of scientists and their submarine shrunken to the size of a molecule and put into the body of another important scientist who needs a blood clot removed from his brain (from the inside, of course). After being attacked by the patient's natural inner defenses (and a saboteur amongst the crew), some of the protagonists survive and are blown back up to normal size. But it's the journey that counts, and the process of showing the navigation within the body compensated for obvious and painful leaps of logic in the both the scientific and basic elements of the story. For instance, the crew has 60 minutes to operate before expanding to normal size, and along their trek, they abandon their submarine because it comes under attack by the body. It seems that nobody stopped to think of what a 42-foot submarine would do to a guy if it expanded from within his own body, whether it was manned or not. Some of the dialogue is laughably hideous but perhaps appropriate when spawned from a movie industry that gave viewers notions about giant radioactive creatures. At any rate, Fantastic Voyage went on to be nominated for several Academy Awards in the technical realm, winning for visual effects and art direction. One of the "love it or hate it" aspects of the film that wasn't nominated but received a loyal following from collectors was Leonard Rosenman's score. The filmmakers originally sought a James Bond-like jazzy action score, and Rosenman quickly dispensed with that idea. The composer made the decision not to score any of the film before the crew actually enters the human body, essentially identifying the music as a sound effect element of the environment within the surrounding biology. Rosenman also approached the scoring process from the perspective of the unknown, using the score as an element of both curiosity and suspense. To do this, almost the entire score is extraordinarily atonal and dissonant.

Whether or not the atonality of the score actually aids in the suspense of the journey and the strange visuals we see along the way is open to debate. But one thing is definitely clear about the music for Fantastic Voyage: it's either a score you had been waiting for decades to hear, or it sounds like every other atonal Rosenman score and has no significance (or enjoyment quotient) whatsoever. Rosenman had been experimenting with the effects of atonality and dissonance for over a decade, and Fantastic Voyage exhibits this approach with a full orchestral ensemble. The score is led by an often-referenced, four-note motif that is varied significantly in tone and instrumentation throughout. Rosenman's off-pitch woodwinds wail in the upper regions while low brass offer the usual ominous notes down below. Piano and percussion are not used to set rhythms, but to play the role of sound effects in and around the lengthy notes of atonal strings and brass. Dissonant layers of strings often culminate in uncomfortable crescendos of sheer noise, always boosted in power from the brass. At the very least, Rosenman is very consistent in this approach, and it can very easily get under your skin after twenty minutes. The only notable track is ironically the final one, in which a tonal thematic statement heralds the successful return of the crew, and you can't help but wonder if the fantasy of the story would have been served equally (or better) by this more readily accessible writing. Succinctly put, whether you will enjoy Fantastic Voyage or not depends on your opinion of the use of the kind of uncomfortable dissonance and atonality that Rosenman (and, more prominently, Alex North) used throughout their careers. On album, Fantastic Voyage will be extremely difficult to enjoy for most digital age listeners, especially with the fact that Rosenman doesn't make much of an effort to provide distinguishing cues or individual ideas to take with you from the score. Still, fans of the film and composer were elated by the first ever release of the music on CD in 1998, when the new Film Score Monthly Silver Age series released Fantastic Voyage as their third entry. Mixed from stereo master tapes, the score sounds decent, though the heinously dated, opening sound effect track will add to the annoyance of people who aren't fans of the film or scoring approach. The same contents were re-issued by La-La Land Records on a limited product in 2014, satisfying demand after the FSM album sold out in the 2000's and fetched surprisingly high prices for such a challenging listening experience. Price Hunt: CD or Download

    Music as Written for the Film: ***
    Music as Heard on the Albums: **
    Overall: ***

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 3.12 Stars
Smart Average: 3.1 Stars*
***** 23 
**** 24 
*** 32 
** 18 
* 19 
  (View results for all titles)
    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
              to counterbalance fringe voting.
   My favorite Rosenman score and a great piec...
  Jockolantern -- 4/6/15 (7:28 p.m.)
  Richard Kleiner -- 11/27/10 (10:52 a.m.)
Read All | Add New Post | Search | Help  

 Track Listings (All Albums): Total Time: 47:21

• 1. Main Title Sound Effects Suite (1:41)
• 2. The Proteus (5:56)
• 3. The Chart (5:30)
• 4. Pulmonary Artery (5:35)
• 5. Group Leaves (2:49)
• 6. Pleural Cavity (0:17)
• 7. Proteus Moving Through Sac (4:52)
• 8. Channel to Ear (2:40)
• 9. Cora Trapped (4:12)
• 10. Proteus in Inner Ear (0:44)
• 11. The Human Brain (1:52)
• 12. Get the Laser (7:20)
• 13. Optic Nerve/End Cast (3:36)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The 1998 album contains the usual excellent quality of pictorial and textual information established in other albums of FSM's series, with extremely detailed notes about the film and score. Similar depth of notation exists in the 2014 La-La Land album's insert.

  All artwork and sound clips from Fantastic Voyage are Copyright © 1998, 2014, Film Score Monthly, La-La Land Records. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 12/27/98 and last updated 2/6/15. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 1998-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.