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Section Header
Islands in the Stream
1986 Intrada

1997 Intrada

2005 Intrada

2010 FSM

Composed, Conducted, and Produced by:
Jerry Goldsmith

Orchestrated by:
Arthur Morton

Re-Recording Performed by:
The Hungarian State Symphony Orchestra

Labels and Dates:
Intrada Records

Intrada Records
(March 18th, 1997)

Intrada Records
(September 27th, 2005)

Film Score Monthly
(January, 2010)

Also See:
Medicine Man

Audio Clips:
2005 Album:

1. The Island (0:31):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

3. Pillow Fight (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

4. Is Ten Too Old (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

13. It is All True (0:32):
WMA (213K)  MP3 (269K)
Real Audio (189K)

All of the identical Intrada albums are regular U.S. releases, each available for about $20. The 2010 Film Score Monthly album is limited to 5,000 copies and available for about the same price through soundtrack specialty outlets.


Islands in the Stream

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Buy it... only if you appreciated Jerry Goldsmith's introspective score in the context of the film, where the music reflects the subtleties of the ocean and the story's lead character.

Avoid it... if you want this highly personal, touching score to exude much outward warmth, for it is content in its own introverted sphere of lonely ambience at low volumes.

Islands in the Stream: (Jerry Goldsmith) The adaptation of Ernest Hemingway's novels has produced some spectacular failures, and while Franklin J. Schaffner's 1977 translation of the writer's last novel is floated by a very strong lead performance by George C. Scott, Islands in the Stream remains a little known footnote by comparison's to the same crew's previous films (led by, most notably, Patton). The novel's story is one of deep personal introspection and character analysis, studying a metal-artist and fisherman living a lonely life separated from his family and society on a small island in the Bahamas during the time of the outbreak of World War II. The first half of the film follows a reunion with his visiting sons and estranged wife, showing a man with familial feelings that are odds with the comfort of his solitude. As the story shifts into the setting of war and Nazi submarines begin attacking nearby refugee boats, Scott's character is forced into action, ultimately sacrificing everything in a desperate effort to save his family and others from the encroaching danger. The film is effective in its emotional appeal, though its inherent tragic nature is a major deterrent. The production attempted to counter its distressing subject matter through gorgeous cinematography and a whimsical score from composer Jerry Goldsmith, who wrote some of his best music for Schaffner's films. While Goldsmith was never happy with either the original performance or recording of Islands in the Stream, he considered the composition among his personal favorites. It was reportedly his self-professed top score until The Russia House unseated it, citing a very strong personal connection to the 1977 film (which he claimed to have brought him to tears during spotting sessions). The delicacy with which he addresses both nature and family in Islands in the Stream is often applauded vigorously by the composer's collectors. Despite its obscurity, the score has been pressed on CD no less than four times (three from Intrada Records focusing on a re-recording of almost all of the score and a final entry from FSM containing the original recording), not including fan-made bootlegs of dubious quality. Whether or not you are encapsulated by Islands in the Stream depends entirely upon your opinion of the film, though. If you connect with the sorrow and inward conflict of Hemingway's lead character, you will likely appreciate Goldsmith's extremely careful and often feathery handling of the sensitive topic. Otherwise, if you find the film shallow in its tragic setup, the Goldsmith score may actually seem surprisingly dull. Either way, it's a rare score by Goldsmith for Schaffner in which the composer was allowed to explore his own compositional voice.

The primary theme of Islands in the Stream, despite most opinions that place the theme for Scott's character at the forefront, is a ponderous swirling of woodwinds and strings heard immediately in "The Island" (a.k.a. "Main Title") and eventually developing into a remarkably effortless and faithful representation of the ocean waters, itself a character in the film. By "The Marlin," this theme has displaced the primary character theme on French horns, and its ability to maneuver unpredictably though its slight variations in its lengthy ostinato format is both a pleasurable and elusive reflection of swelling ocean waves. Bernard Herrmann on occasion captured the same flow of water with orchestral activity (as in Cape Fear), and here the effect defines the score. On top of this idea is indeed the most fully realized theme of the score, the one for the lead character's lonely existence. Performed on solo horn in the opening cue and coming to an agonizing end on solo piano in "It is All True," this idea strongly suggests a noir connection, a distant cousin of Chinatown in its bittersweet tone as well. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this theme is its slow gain of symphonic warmth as the score progresses. The most intelligent manipulation of the two themes exists in "Is Ten Too Old?," a cue that turns a frightening encounter with a shark into yet another aspect of the production that will remind some of Jaws. Outside of these two themes, however, Islands in the Stream relies completely on atmosphere to address the emotional impact of the story. As such, the music on album sometimes wanders seemingly without direction, potentially boring a listener not interesting in hearing a character score without an abundance of voluminous warmth. The few moments of excitement early in the score, some of which exuding the same spirit of happiness as Medicine Man's comical cues, don't last long enough to separately appreciate. As previously mentioned, the score's original performance was lackluster. With Schaffner in attendance, Goldsmith re-recorded most of Islands in the Stream at the conclusion of the 1986 Lionheart sessions in Budapest, a rewarding experience for both despite their exhaustion due to the length and volume of Lionheart. Intrada's three identical issues of this digital performance from 1986 to 2005 are far superior to the bootlegged versions of the original recording. In 2010, Film Score Monthly finally licensed and managed to find a decent copy of the original recording, satisfying Goldsmith's most ardent collectors with a film version that includes two additional minutes of material. Still, Islands in the Stream remains arguably one of Goldsmith's most overrated scores, warm and redemptive for some listeners while cold and distant for others. It's safe to say that it is an effective score in context, but one that requires high volumes and a close embrace to enjoy on album. *** 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 138,589 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 3.1 Stars
Smart Average: 3.06 Stars*
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 Track Listings (All Intrada Albums): Total Time: 51:12

• 1. The Island (3:11)
• 2. The Boys Arrive (3:53)
• 3. Pillow Fight (1:18)
• 4. Is Ten Too Old (2:53)
• 5. Night Attack (2:47)
• 6. Marlin (12:06)
• 7. The Boys Leave (2:57)
• 8. The Letter (3:25)
• 9. How Long Can You Stay (3:18)
• 10. I Can't Have Him (2:48)
• 11. The Refugees (4:25)
• 12. Eddie's Death (3:11)
• 13. It is All True (5:06)

 Track Listings (2010 Film Score Monthly Album): Total Time: 53:11

• 1. Main Title (3:19)
• 2. The Boys Arrive (3:02)
• 3. Pillow Fight (1:12)
• 4. Is Ten Too Old? (4:09)
• 5. Night Attack (3:22)
• 6. The Marlin (11:54)
• 7. The Boys Leave (2:53)
• 8. The Letter (3:28)
• 9. How Long Can You Stay (3:10)
• 10. I Can't Have Him (2:44)
• 11. The Refugees (4:27)
• 12. Eddie's Death (4:39)
• 13. It is All True (5:18)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The inserts of all three Intrada albums and the FSM album include extensive information about the score and film. A note by Bruce Kimmel of Kritzerland Records, supplier of the copies of the master tapes used for the 2010 FSM album, was rejected by Paramount for inclusion in the booklet (for containing too much unsavory insider information), but it is available on FSM's website listing for this album.

  All artwork and sound clips from Islands in the Stream are Copyright © 1986, 1997, 2005, 2010, Intrada Records, Intrada Records, Intrada Records, Film Score Monthly. 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 8/6/09 and last updated 3/29/10. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2009-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.