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Section Header
Composed, Conducted, and Co-Produced by:
Jerry Goldsmith

Co-Produced by:
Nick Redman
Robert Townson

Varèse Sarabande

Release Date:
April, 2003

Also See:
The Swarm

Audio Clips:
2. Corky's Retreat (0:27):
WMA (179K)  MP3 (220K)
Real Audio (136K)

6. Appassionata (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (243K)
Real Audio (151K)

10. The Lake (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

20. End Titles (0:31):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (251K)
Real Audio (156K)

The 2003 Varèse Sarabande album is a "Limited Collector's Edition" of 3,000 copies and was available only through the label's site or online soundtrack specialty outlets. It sold out and is now only available on the secondary market for elevated prices. Catalog number: VCL 0403 1018



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Buy it... if you are a devoted Jerry Goldsmith collector who never had the music previously available from Magic on the collectible 1993 SPFM Tribute album.

Avoid it... if your film music funds are limited and you desire far better Goldsmith entries elsewhere in the Varèse Sarabande Club series.

Magic: (Jerry Goldsmith) The 1978 psychological thriller Magic was the fourth directorial outing for the highly acclaimed Richard Attenborough, who, after fielding moderate success for this film, would turn his immediate attention to Ghandi. At the time, Magic was not known for its star power, but most of the consideration given to it today is due to the emergence of several actors and other crew members involved with the project. Its star, Anthony Hopkins, had already performed in several great roles for a decade, but had not yet achieved superstar status. The same applied to Attenborough. The film's strong supporting cast (which looks now like an awkward preview of the Grumpy Old Men supporting group) was limited to just a few characters, with a tightly woven and introverted script telling a tale that involves only five characters. Five, that is, if you include Fats, the dummy. The film's plot is a horrific tale of mental derangement on the part of the primary character, a magician and ventriloquist, who succumbs to the evil suggestions of his puppet and commits hideous crimes while haunted by the love for an old schoolboy crush. The body count swells to encompass most of the cast, and the film is ultimately a frustrating and disturbing endeavor in every possible way. When envisioning the score for the film, no task too tough was to exist for composer Jerry Goldsmith at the time. Goldsmith's music would be key in the development of the self-destructive relationship between Hopkins' character, Corky, and his suggestive dummy, taking specific harmonic ideas for the protagonist and constantly bombarding them with the striking instrumental tones that represent his sidekick.

The composer had finally won an overdue Academy Award at the ceremonies just a year prior, and the obviously experienced composer was entering a ten-year period that many critics still consider to be the most richly textured of his career. Magic was a project for which Goldsmith could entertain a delicate love theme and weave it into a constant battle with the theme of the dummy, mirroring the schizophrenia of the ventriloquist as he falls victim to that physical object. His comfort with the horror and suspense genres was beginning to reign with consistency. The difference between Goldsmith at his prime and most of the other composers of the modern era was Goldsmith's ability to make the "less is more" idea work, and work well. This is a score of few grand notes, and yet Goldsmith's ability to take a charming little love theme and twist it into an agonizing fight between fear, doubt, and love is grand in and of itself. Still, you need to investigate this score knowing that an appreciation of Goldsmith's talent is really the only reason to listen to Magic for any length of time. From the outset of the work, during which Goldsmith introduces the hauntingly stark harmonica theme for the dummy, the score quivers with uncertainty and frustration. It is built upon the same sparse constructs as a score like A Patch of Blue, but with none of the inherent affection. A laid back, jazzy theme for the good natured side of the primary character's heart battles the unpleasant harmonica for the entire score, only to lose at the very brink of victory. A maximum of a minute or two of actual horrific slashing music is to be heard in Magic, heightening the tension throughout the rest of an orchestral underscore that features atonal battles with harmony in many sequences.

Learn about

For ten years, a little more than 15 minutes of the Magic score was available on the highly collectible and cherished Society for the Preservation of Film Music Tribute CD pressed in limited copies for the audience attending a 1993 dinner in honor of the composer. For the very few who owned that album (or one of the countess bootlegs that came afterwards), it should be noted that the SPFM Tribute CD has all of the most pertinent and impressive Goldsmith cues from Magic (in roughly equal sound quality). None of the additional material is significant in length, and the short cue times only add to the unsettling listening experience. True Goldsmith completists will indeed be interested in the whole score, but if you are going to choose one Goldsmith album from the several Varèse Sarabande Club titles available, then Magic is by no means the best choice. The limited Varèse album of 3,000 copies includes two nightclub cues required as source material from Goldsmith, and these add nothing to the album except for an even greater appreciation of the composer's versatility. The product sold out within a few years and is itself now a moderate collectible. Despite the remarkable skill it puts on display, though, the album for Magic isn't among the better half of Goldsmith's works. It is a disturbing listening experience, as to be expected, and even the popular, heightened pronouncement of the love theme in "Appassionata" is presented with an agitated, suspenseful edge that will convince your gut that something is wrong. If you haven't seen the film, it would be a challenge to start listening to the score, read the insert notes detailing the gripping plot of the film, and feel comfortable stopping halfway through. Such is the life that Goldsmith's unsettling score brings to this horrific tale. *** 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 138,505 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 2.59 Stars
Smart Average: 2.69 Stars*
***** 81 
**** 89 
*** 156 
** 167 
* 179 
  (View results for all titles)
    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
              to counterbalance fringe voting.
   A film composer with a heart
  Stewar Sesuande -- 12/27/09 (11:10 p.m.)
   Soundtrack for Magic
  David Walters -- 7/10/06 (6:00 a.m.)
   Alternate review
  Southall -- 5/25/06 (10:21 a.m.)
   Chilling and unique
  Fernando Giménez Moren... -- 7/16/03 (5:46 a.m.)
   Varese Club/Goldsmith titles
  Shaman Icano -- 6/9/03 (11:50 p.m.)
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 Track Listings: Total Time: 41:54

• 1. Main Title* (2:02)
• 2. Corky's Retreat* (3:18)
• 3. Didn't Remember Me (1:50)
• 4. Memories* (2:52)
• 5. What Can't You Explain? (0:56)
• 6. Appassionata* (2:07)
• 7. Let's Take Off (0:53)
• 8. One Chance (1:09)
• 9. Stop the Postman (1:50)
• 10. The Lake* (2:47)
• 11. The Ruse (1:27)
• 12. Duke's Catch (1:36)
• 13. Blood (1:05)
• 14. Duke's End (1:04)
• 15. Two Birds with One Stone (0:45)
• 16. I'll Tell (2:40)
• 17. Fats Blows the Whistle (1:43)
• 18. The Wooden Heart (2:38)
• 19. Us Was You* (1:16)
• 20. End Titles* (2:06)

Bonus Source Cues:
• 21. Previous Act (2:39)
• 22. Next Act (2:39)

* released in single or combination cues on the 1993 SPFM Tribute CD

 Notes and Quotes:  

The limited edition Varèse Sarabande album features the series' usual standard of excellent, in-depth analysis of the score and film.

  All artwork and sound clips from Magic are Copyright © 2003, Varèse Sarabande. 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 6/5/03 and last updated 11/26/08. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2003-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.