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Section Header
The Final Conflict
(1981)
1986 Varèse

2001 Varèse

2005 Varèse Set

Composed by:
Jerry Goldsmith

Orchestrated by:
Arthur Morton

Conducted by:
Lionel Newman

Performed by:
The National Philharmonic Orchestra

Labels and Dates:
Varèse Sarabande
(1986)

Varèse Sarabande
(October 9th, 2001)

Varèse Sarabande
(Trilogy Set)
(October 11th, 2005)

Also See:
The Omen
Damien: Omen II
The Last Valley
Poltergeist

Audio Clips:
2001 Varèse:

3. Trial Run (0:31):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

7. The Second Coming (0:31):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

9. The Hunt (0:30):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

10. The Blooding (0:31):
WMA (204K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

Availability:
Both the 1986 and 2001 albums are regular commercial releases that are readily available for standard retail prices, though the first one was once considered a rare collectible. The 2005 set containing all three scores in the original trilogy is also easy to find and is the better value per score.

Awards:
  None.










The Final Conflict

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Buy it... if you desire one of Jerry Goldsmith's most powerful career scores, explosive in its harmonic resonance and dynamic in its melodramatic choral and symphonic blend.

Avoid it... if you would be puzzled and disappointed by the lack of any direct connections between this and the previous scores in the series, including the "Ave Satani" chants.



Goldsmith
The Final Conflict: (Jerry Goldsmith) The concluding chapter to the original trilogy based on The Omen, 1981's The Final Conflict follows the legacy of Damien Thorn into his adult years. Now with disciples around the world and in control of his own destiny, the Antichrist is confronted by the newly developed knowledge that the second coming of Christ is imminent. Seeking to protect his power and continue his ascent to greater positions of influence, Damien (now portrayed by Sam Neill) continues his killing spree by targeting both innocent babies born at the exact time of the second coming and fending off attacks from a group of priests well aware of the battle to ensue. The tale culminates into a final battle between Damien and the powers of goodness, and only through one of the Antichrist's few weaknesses is he defeated before he can kill off an entire ensemble cast of supporting characters (as he had done in the previous two pictures). Producer Harvey Bernhard considered composer Jerry Goldsmith to be an absolutely essential member of the production team on all three films, retaining his services immediately upon Fox's green light of the sequels. Unlike the characters on screen, the music was meant as a tool of continuity between the three films, one voice that could serve as a clear identifier of the series for audiences. The Oscar-winning success of the composer's score for The Omen had been adapted very faithfully in the familiar and redundant tones of Damien: Omen II, and instead of simply regurgitating the famous theme of "Ave Satani" once again for The Final Conflict, Goldsmith took the franchise's structures in an entirely new direction. Perhaps this move shouldn't have come as a surprise, for the composer was in the midst of the most fruitful period of his career by the time of the third film, and inspiration never seemed to be a problem for him during this time. Several basic ingredients from the first film are carried over to the third, including the use of Goldsmith's usual performing group, the National Philharmonic Orchestra in London (mostly without electronics), for one recording used in the film and on album. Also returning is the dominant use of chorus and the related unconventional techniques of vocal performances that Goldsmith had introduced in The Omen. In these general areas, The Final Conflict fits into the series. But in every other manner, the score is a separate entity, standing firmly on its own and completely ignoring the thematic constructs that Goldsmith had used in the previous two entries.

The lack of structural continuity between The Final Conflict and The Omen is both a plus and minus (in extremes, it would turn out). Let's first explore the positives, for they are many. Without a doubt, Damien: Omen II was a score of regurgitation. It took an outstanding set of ideas and pushed them in impressive variations, thus earning strong marks and successfully appealing to listeners. But at the end of the day, the music for Damien: Omen II didn't really accomplish anything new. Then again, neither did the film's plot, which was simply a copy of the first, so it's hard to fault Goldsmith. The fresh start with The Final Conflict brushed aside the ills of the previous score and allowed the composer to spread his wings in vastly new directions. A new theme greets Damien in his adulthood, one that is as bold, tragic, and powerful as any Goldsmith ever created. This robust idea is as solid as movie themes get, conveyed by horns with a resonance rarely heard in even Goldsmith's most heroic or otherwise melodramatic efforts. He wastes no time stating it, either, opening the score's "Main Titles" immediately with this idea and allowing the chorus to join it in grand harmony for an apocalyptic climax of epic proportions. Goldsmith reportedly had always wanted to write an opera for chorus, and The Final Conflict gave him that opportunity. Massive, mixed choir harmonics of this level were new to Goldsmith, though he would extend the usage to a lesser degree in his ill-fated music for Legend later in the decade. Goldsmith is loyal to this theme without beating the audience senseless with it (as he had done with "Ave Satani" in Damien: Omen II). The incorporation of the horn performances of this theme in "The Monastery" and "The Hunt" are crystal clear, and by the time the theme is joined in the actual score by chorus in a monumental rendering in the latter half of "The Blooding," the score and film take on another dimension of religious importance. One of the oddities of this theme is that it became the second idea by Goldsmith in the series to borrow heavily from John Barry's work of the late 1960's and early 1970's. Whereas the underlying progressions and stomping movement of "Ave Satani" owed to The Lion in Winter, the theme for Damien in The Final Conflict, both in melody and performance aspects, is highly reminiscent of Barry's The Last Valley. It's not a distracting level of similarity, though, and the connected themes are equally efficient in achieving the same emotional response.

The other strikingly refreshing aspect of The Final Conflict that distinguishes it from the previous two scores is Goldsmith's secondary theme for the second coming of Christ. Along with the less dissonant lines of the title theme, this fluid and beautiful representation of the divine is as attractive as Goldsmith could have possible made it. Truly heavenly in its redemptive tone, this theme is introduced at the end of "Main Titles," flirted with in soft tones in "Trial Run" and "The Monastery," and realized fully with grandiose orchestral and choral performances in "The Second Coming" and the climactic "The Final Conflict." This material extends beyond even the collection of Goldsmith's effortless love themes in his career, taking the opportunity that Hollywood never gave him to score a biblical epic with all the overblown sense of importance that could be squeezed into one heavenly theme. In its lesser variants, this idea embodies the same sense of supernatural whimsy that would be heard in Poltergeist. The firm but restrained resolute stature of "The Monastery" is a reminder of Goldsmith's Star Trek material. The actual attacks on Damien's enemies aren't conveyed with the same frequency of orgasmic chanting and symphonic strikes, another change of direction in The Final Conflict. The whispering effects are there, and "A T.V. First" is a nice throwback to Damien: Omen II, but anything approaching the singular menace of "Ave Satani" certainly is not. Harmonious counterpoint on the horns makes these cues a bit more palatable than before. Another change in The Final Conflict relates to the glimmers of hope that exist throughout the score, with the secondary theme forcing the score to be far more balanced in its general attitude. Finally, the single cue "The Hunt" is a highlight of Goldsmith's career that stands apart from the rest of the music in the three scores in its spirit of adventure. Goldsmith was inspired by a fox hunt in The List of Adrian Messenger many years earlier, and he doesn't let the opportunity pass him this time, either. Employing rollicking rhythms and his famous slapping tambourine keeping pace, this theme even imitates the trumpet calls of a hunt with exuberant clarity of character and a pastoral sense of respect for nature. The fact that Goldsmith could accomplish all of this with the horn theme for Damien on top is remarkable. It's strange to think that the single most impressive cue written by Goldsmith for these three films has nothing to do with any of the religious tones or monumental horror that dominate the rest of the works, but it's true.

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Unfortunately, all of these positive aspects of The Final Conflict point to the score's greatest weakness: it's almost complete disavowing of the previous thematic constructs. Careful inspection of Damien's adult theme will find that the meter corresponds with "Ave Satani" and, on occasion, as in the end of "The Blooding," the actual baseline progression of that previous theme is employed. But why would Goldsmith abandon the idea in its full form in The Final Conflict? It was such a powerful theme in The Omen that is was nominated apart from the score for a "Best Song" Oscar, and how often do you witness that in the realm of film music? Certainly, Goldsmith could have allowed "Ave Satani" to evolve into Damien's more bombastic adult theme at one or more junctures in The Final Conflict. Or, at the very least, a parting reminder of the theme upon Damien's death or in another tribute fashion would have clearly wrapped the series into a neat package. Never even do the whispered effects fully reprise this theme, and despite the fact that Goldsmith over-utilized the idea in Damien: Omen II, its total dismissal here is a major disappointment. Also absent, less surprisingly, is any reference to Goldsmith's well developed family theme in The Omen, an idea that could have merited attention given Damien's own sick love affair in The Final Conflict and de facto adoption of a son through that relationship. Simply put, nothing concrete from The Omen survives in The Final Conflict, so in the producer's effort to use Goldsmith as a source of continuity for the series, the score fails to accomplish that goal. The composer's high quality of output and general approach to the concept will be similar enough for some listeners, however, for whom this won't be an issue. Otherwise, The Final Conflict is an outstanding score despite being an orphan within the context, necessitating different ratings for the score's continuation of the story and its album presentation. Released by Masters Film Music through Varèse Sarabande in 1986 on a 48-minute CD, The Final Conflict finally received expanded and remastered treatment in 2001, with a significant improvement in sound quality and 14 additional minutes of music. A 2005 repackaging of all three "Deluxe Editions" together for a retail price of less than $30 made them very affordable, not to mention a compensation for more difficult retail availability of the 2001 albums by then. There is no question that The Final Conflict is the most satisfying of the three scores on album, but The Omen remains the best pure horror score in context.   Amazon.com Price Hunt: CD or Download

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

Bias Check:For Jerry Goldsmith reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.26 (in 113 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.25 (in 137,994 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.





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 Track Listings (1986 Varèse Album): Total Time: 48:22


• 1. Main Title (3:22)
• 2. The Ambassador (4:45)
• 3. Trial Run (2:10)
• 4. The Monastery (3:13)
• 5. A T.V. First (2:45)
• 6. The Second Coming (3:16)
• 7. Electric Storm (5:17)
• 8. The Hunt (3:58)
• 9. The Blooding Reel (3:32)
• 10. Lost Children (3:40)
• 11. Parted Hair (6:30)
• 12. The Iron (2:18)
• 13. The Final Conflict (3:40)




 Track Listings (2001 and 2005 Varèse Albums): Total Time: 62:33


• 1. Main Title (3:29)
• 2. The Ambassador (4:50)
• 3. Trial Run (2:15)
• 4. The Monastery (3:17)
• 5. A T.V. First (2:51)
• 6. The Statue (4:11)
• 7. The Second Coming (3:25)
• 8. Electric Storm (5:22)
• 9. The Hunt (4:05)
• 10. The Blooding (3:40)
• 11. Lost Children (3:45)
• 12. 666 (3:03)
• 13. Parted Hair (6:36)
• 14. The Iron (2:30)
• 15. The Final Conflict (9:22)




 Notes and Quotes:  


The inserts of all the albums include information about the score and film.





   
  All artwork and sound clips from The Final Conflict are Copyright © 1986, 2001, 2005, Varèse Sarabande, Varèse Sarabande, Varèse Sarabande (Trilogy Set). 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 Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 7/29/09 (and not updated significantly since). Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2009-2013, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.