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Section Header
The Ghost and the Darkness
Composed, Conducted, and Produced by:
Jerry Goldsmith

Orchestrated by:
Alexander Courage

Hollywood Records

Release Date:
October 8th, 1996

Also See:
The Shadow
Medicine Man

Audio Clips:
1. Theme from "The Ghost and the Darkness" (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (243K)
Real Audio (151K)

2. The Bridge (0:34):
WMA (224K)  MP3 (284K)
Real Audio (199K)

9. Remington's Death (0:30):
WMA (193K)  MP3 (238K)
Real Audio (147K)

12. Welcome to Tsavo (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (243K)
Real Audio (151K)

Regular U.S. release, but out of print as of 2002.


The Ghost and the Darkness

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Sales Rank: 95922

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Buy it... if you're baited by the smell of blood coming from the lips of ambitious brass players (as well as rowdy African percussion and a variety of ethnic chanting).

Avoid it... if you prefer your Jerry Goldsmith adventure scores of the 1990's to feature the composer's trademark infusion of synthetic elements, for this score instead offers a rich texture of mostly authentic sounds.

The Ghost and the Darkness: (Jerry Goldsmith) The concept was very promising; late in the 19th Century, the British, French, and Germans were racing to build railroads across Africa to facilitate the ivory trade. The British were faced with one last bridge to build over the Tsavo River, requiring an engineering marvel and a brigade of slaves. Unfortunately, while the river and infighting amongst the salves (due to religious differences) provided enough of a daunting challenge to sustain the film, the purpose for the existence of The Ghost and the Darkness is to tell the true story of the relentless lion attacks on the camp that claimed over a hundred lives. Writer William Goldman is often blamed for the extremely poor critical and popular showing for The Ghost and the Darkness, conjuring some of the lamest lines of 1996 on the big screen and killing off all the best characters, though equal blame needs to be assigned to shoddy special effects (the lions themselves are ridiculously fake), uninspired acting by the two leads, and dumb, first-person style direction. Once again, one of the few people who took the production to heart was composer Jerry Goldsmith, who was attracted to the exotic, cross-cultural aspect of the story when he accepted the assignment. In the mid-1990's, Goldsmith had become engaged primarily with smaller projects, films like Angie, Fierce Creatures, or Dennis the Menace that lacked the epic depth that his followers had become accustomed to during earlier phases of his lengthy career. The days of unique and personality-rich scores such as The Russia House, Basic Instinct, Medicine Man, and Total Recall had seemed a thing of the past, and his action scores of the following era had included substandard titles like Executive Decision and Chain Reaction. When 1996 rolled around and Goldsmith took the film score community by storm with his impressive tandem of Star Trek: First Contact and The Ghost and the Darkness, fans were understandably pleased. The latter score is easily the superior of the two, despite fans' sentimental attachment to the composer's Star Trek-related works.

Goldsmith stated at the time that the script and location of The Ghost and the Darkness was so enticing that it energized him to produce an epic score, one of his most challenging and memorable adventure works of the decade. To hear the same kind of enthusiastic Goldsmith ethnicity from the African continent, you have to go all the way back to 1975's The Wind and the Lion. Since that time, Goldsmith became the expert at the collaboration between electronic sound effects and a strong orchestral presence. Not only is this melding excellently handled in The Ghost and the Darkness, but Goldsmith undertakes the additional task of adding two entirely different ethnic flavors into the mix. The film utilizes three prominent themes and a number of secondary motifs, and the ethnicity often bleeds from one theme into another. The title theme is a very workmanlike and bold brass fanfare for the process of building the bridge, a theme that exists throughout the score. Since the true-life lead character of the film hails from Ireland, Goldsmith uses a continuously rambling rhythmic motif suggesting that origin under the remaining orchestral and African elements that perform the actual theme over that progression. This Irish touch injects the score with its keen sense of work ethic, driving the more dramatic scenes of a thousand extras with a reminder of the forces that command them. Overshadowing the Western influence inherent in the orchestra is the staggering African style, one which Goldsmith introduces to us only this one time in his career. It includes native Hindu and African chants by both adults and children in conjunction with an extremely eclectic set of real percussion (not dominated by drum pads, as Medicine Man had been) that includes rattling and struck elements along with an enriching variety of drums. While these vocals and percussion are a powerful indicator of location, Goldsmith's brass is always of equal intensity, maintaining the National Philharmonic of London as the pace setter of the film's action. The commanding presence of the brass section, mixed to heighten their ferocity in The Ghost and the Darkness, is especially successful during attack sequences that can blow you out of your seat.

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The lions actually receive two separate ideas, one for their mystique (and that of the landscape) and one for their actual killing sprees. The latter sequences are given a primordial, rising brass figure first heard in "Lions Attack" and featuring overbearing instrumentation that is very reminiscent of the Mongolian cues in The Shadow (but with vocals). The theme for the mystique of the land and its animals is best heard at the start of "Lions Reign" and is, especially in conjunction with the vocals, an extremely heroic statement of defiance. That same cue continues with a suspense motif seemingly out of Under Fire. The final major theme, and the most readily enjoyable one on album, is the one for the engineer's family. This idea is heard only in the early "Catch a Train" and the lovely finale piece, "Welcome to Tsavo." Goldsmith incorporates the Irish rhythmic motif under this theme to remind us of the cultural connection. On the whole, The Ghost and the Darkness is rich with a laundry list of motifs for various situations. One of the better singular cues is "Preparations," with a typical Goldsmith rhythm of determination led by brass over some of the score's most distinctive choral accompaniment. In the end, however, most will recall the title theme heard in the first two tracks on the score's album. Goldsmith's technique of opening with the Irish motif and rolling it along with the addition of pieces of the ensemble for an entire minute before stating the overlying theme is very attractive. While it may seem strange to say this about a horror film, the most important aspect of Goldsmith's work for The Ghost and the Darkness is that it is fun. That's a generic thing to say, though with the adventure cues greatly outnumbering the horror variety, the score is extremely entertaining on album. That product contains roughly 40 minutes of Goldsmith's cues (lengthier bootlegs do trade on the secondary market) and concludes with native African performances by "The Worldbeaters" and renown regional singer and composer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. For Goldsmith collectors, only the first twelve score tracks will be of interest, and they offer more than enough memorable melodies and instrumental and vocal textures to maintain your interest for several repeat listens. Brass fans, this one's for you. **** Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For Jerry Goldsmith reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.26 (in 113 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.26 (in 138,583 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 3.94 Stars
Smart Average: 3.73 Stars*
***** 1195 
**** 1198 
*** 632 
** 184 
* 125 
  (View results for all titles)
    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
              to counterbalance fringe voting.
  N.R.Q. -- 9/2/07 (1:55 p.m.)
   You can download this score here!!!
  Thom Jophery -- 3/27/07 (5:26 p.m.)
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 Track Listings: Total Time: 53:27

Music by Jerry Goldsmith:
• 1. Theme from "The Ghost and the Darkness" (2:11)
• 2. The Bridge (4:09)
• 3. Catch a Train (2:02)
• 4. Lions Attack (5:18)
• 5. First Time (2:00)
• 6. Starling's Death (5:57)
• 7. Lions Reign (2:40)
• 8. Preparations (2:46)
• 9. Remington's Death (2:31)
• 10. Prepare for Battle (2:00)
• 11. Final Attack (2:53)
• 12. Welcome to Tsavo (4:59)
Music by The Worldbeaters:
• 13. Hamara Haath ("Our Hands Unite") (3:05)
• 14. Dueling Chants, Part I: "Jungal Bahar" (3:20)
• 15. Safari Ya Bamba ("Journey to Bamba") (2:32)
• 16. Terere Obande (2:42)
• 17. Iye Oyeha (2:13)

 Notes and Quotes:  

Notes about the production from both Jerry Goldsmith and Michael Douglas can be found on the inside of the back cover, though the contour of the plastic case makes it difficult to read.

  All artwork and sound clips from The Ghost and the Darkness are Copyright © 1996, Hollywood 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 10/10/96 and last updated 9/7/08. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 1996-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.