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Section Header
The Mummy
Composed, Conducted, and Produced by:
Jerry Goldsmith

Performed by:
The London Studio Orchestra

Orchestrated by:
Alexander Courage

Decca Records

Release Date:
May 4th, 1999

Also See:
The Mummy Returns
The Scorpion King
The Shadow
Small Soldiers

Audio Clips:
1. Imhotep (0:31):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (243K)
Real Audio (158K)

5. Night Boarders (0:29):
WMA (184K)  MP3 (224K)
Real Audio (139K)

13. Rebirth (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

15. The Sand Volcano (0:30):
WMA (195K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

Regular U.S. release.


The Mummy
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Buy it... if you don't mind hearing orchestras wielded like blunt instruments for exotic and noisy action romps.

Avoid it... if you expect either the sophistication or prevailing personality in style that Jerry Goldsmith's better adventure scores exhibit.

The Mummy: (Jerry Goldsmith) At times, it's hard to tell if director Stephen Sommers intended The Mummy to actually embody the characteristics of a serious action flick, because so much of it is ridiculously dumb that there's the possibility that parody was the goal. Nothing really remains from the 1932 Boris Karloff film of the same name, with the remake a cheap knock-off of the Indiana Jones concept that resorts to cliches for a bloated running time. A high priest in 1290 B.C. Egypt is caught with the pharaoh's mistress and is both buried alive with flesh eating beetles and cursed for all eternity. He, Imhotep, is the mummy stumbled upon and accidentally released by Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz, who, in their roles as an American treasure seeker and British historian, respectively, are plundering the riches of Hamunaptra. As Imhotep is resurrected, he sets upon unleashing Biblical plagues, among other auxiliary intentions. The concept of Imhotep's attraction to the modern incarnation of his former Egyptian lover, the central theme of the 1932 film, is only alluded to in the 1999 version. Inevitably, the special effects of Imhotep's plagues are the main attraction, and the story was damned by Sommers' own writing missteps. Sommers and composer Jerry Goldsmith had collaborated on the ridiculous action/horror film Deep Rising the previous year, and The Mummy came after an uncharacteristic six month absence from the film scoring scene for Goldsmith. Without a doubt, 1999 was the veteran composer's last great year, treating audiences to robust orchestral scores for this, The Haunting, and The 13th Warrior. Though none of these films merited much praise, the consistent quality of Goldsmith's output, as well as the outstanding characteristics of the recordings' mixes, have caused the scores to become late staples in the collections of the composer's fans. While the score for The Mummy certainly has all the building blocks of a five-star score (or at least a solid four star one), it stumbles due to its total lack of organization. The sequels' scores by Alan Silvestri and John Debney, interestingly, used none of Goldsmith's material but were arguably more consistent.

If you're the kind of devoted film music collector who enjoys Goldsmith's exotic orchestral bombast in its purest sense, then the aimless personality of The Mummy won't bother you. The score was Goldsmith's most densely ambitious "wall of sound" entry of the era, blatantly pulling at the bloated charisma of the story. It's difficult to determine if Goldsmith approached The Mummy with absolutely serious intent, for his music certainly makes it seem as though that were the case. But given that the production elements of the film were extreme to the point of parody makes one wonder if Goldsmith didn't let rip with the tone of this score due to some "tongue in cheek" playfulness. Several of the rhythms in The Mummy are directly related to the militaristic parody movements in Small Soldiers, which could indicate either a nod to the comical elements of The Mummy or perhaps simply the composer's preferred style of ruckus at the time. Much of the style of Goldsmith's rambling, percussive rhythms in The Mummy would be reprised with greater coherence in The 13th Warrior. The sheer density of The Mummy is both its major attraction and its demise. The many thematic ideas in the score are often lost in the shuffle, though it should be noted that each of the four individual themes is above average compared to the composer's tendency in the following years to write some clunkers. While all of the four ideas receive significant treatment throughout the score, none of them really establishes itself as the primary identity of the film. The closest candidate to taking this title is the ancient Egypt theme, alternately representing the living soul of Imhotep and the curse placed upon him at the outset of the film. This theme is rich with both straight-forward boldness and a few twists of stereotypical Middle-Eastern chord progressions. Its broad performance at the very outset of the film is its most prominent, though it ranges in style from solo woodwind in "Giza Port" to frantic hits and swirls of the ensemble in the opening moments of "The Sand Volcano."

The sinister side of Imhotep's resurrection and curses is provided with another theme, foreshadowed briefly on low woodwind over choir at the end of "Imhotep" and debuting in full on brass in the latter half of "The Sarcophagus." Fuller performances of this idea are heard as the havoc is really being sent forth in "My Favorite Plague" and "Crowd Control." A heroic theme for the film, alternately a straight-laced action motif, is ripped directly from Small Soldiers and used during the more upbeat moments of adventure in the film. Goldsmith only allows this theme to truly flourish in "The Sand Volcano," prominently marching its way at about 2:20 into that cue. The fourth and final theme in The Mummy is the obvious love theme, spanning both the relationship between Imhotep and the mistress as well as the one between 1920's treasure seekers. The first hints of this string theme are offered in the ancient Egypt scene in "Imhotep," though it is more frequently referenced as the score progresses. A fleeting performance in "Giza Port" and several prevalent statements in the latter half of "Camel Race" cannot compete with the majesty of the theme's performances in the last minutes of "The Sand Volcano," when the choir elegantly joins in. In between all of these thematic references is an extremely healthy dose of Goldsmith's most rowdy action material. As mentioned before, these ideas owe heavily to Small Soldiers and would be explored with greater success by Goldsmith in his replacement score for The 13th Warrior. With percussive and synthetic instrumentation appropriate for the region, many have compared parts of The Mummy to The Wind and the Lion, which contains some of Goldsmith's most memorable action material for the region. Instrumentally, The Mummy sufficiently provides the setting with an exotic tilt, and the elements used here for that effect are identical to those heard again in The 13th Warrior. Parts of the two scores, in fact, could be interchanged and few causal fans would notice the difference. There is irony in the fact that the end credits music for The Mummy consisted of pieces from the rest of the score manually edited together into a suite.

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The major difference between The Mummy and its two direct cousins, Small Soldiers and The 13th Warrior, is that The Mummy struggles to maintain a personality. The former score's exuberant sense of humor and the latter score's stark sense of antiquity are the kinds of defining characteristics that The Mummy lacks. You can't really rely upon any of the four major themes, for Goldsmith doesn't enunciate them clearly enough for an average movie-goer to grasp. You also can't really point to any single instrumental or vocal element as the definition of the score (the opposite of this would be The Ghost and the Darkness, which exudes a distinct style in nearly its entire length). The choir in The Mummy is used sparingly, which is a nice alternative in some ways to the outward explosiveness of the voices in The 13th Warrior, but outside of the final moments of "The Sand Volcano," the choir's role doesn't add much to help direct the score. Electronics are sparsely employed, mostly to assist with percussive rhythms. Overall, within the subset of Goldsmith's action material of this era, The Mummy is extraordinary in its forceful stance but surprisingly anonymous in its character. Perhaps the sheer volume of the score, with its constant waves of rhythmically powerful action cues clobbering you at every turn, is actually its defining personality trait. If this is true, then the organization of the score's rhythmic and thematic ideas are betrayed by their heavy-handed rendering. Still, the score, which exhibits the same remarkably resounding sound quality as Goldsmith's others in 1998 and 1999 (a perfect balance of detail and reverb), is extremely popular with the composer's collectors, which often hail it as among his best action ventures ever. That enthusiasm has always been somewhat curious, but those fans were given the treat of an isolated score on the DVD release of the film. Bootlegs ensued, and anyone unsatisfied with the hour of music on the Decca album has long since sought those unofficial, expanded issues. While interesting and noisy, The Mummy really doesn't deserve that much attention, however. It's fun, but adrift. *** 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 138,506 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 3.43 Stars
Smart Average: 3.31 Stars*
***** 2732 
**** 3635 
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* 915 
  (View results for all titles)
    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
              to counterbalance fringe voting.
   Re: Awesome score
  ZPIANOGuy -- 10/4/13 (10:49 a.m.)
   Re: Awesome score
  Big Time Yanker -- 3/26/08 (9:46 a.m.)
   Re: Awesome score
  Sapphron -- 11/19/07 (6:36 a.m.)
   Awesome score
  Pudgy -- 3/9/07 (5:24 p.m.)
   Re: theater trailer song
  Tony -- 10/27/06 (9:00 p.m.)
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 Track Listings: Total Time: 57:40

• 1. Imhotep (4:19)
• 2. The Sarcophagus (2:17)
• 3. Tauger Attack (2:21)
• 4. Giza Port (2:03)
• 5. Night Boarders (4:06)
• 6. The Caravan (2:52)
• 7. Camel Race (3:26)
• 8. The Crypt (2:26)
• 9. Mumia Attack (2:17)
• 10. Discoveries (3:41)
• 11. My Favourite Plague (3:59)
• 12. Crowd Control (3:12)
• 13. Rebirth (8:33)
• 14. The Mummy (6:19)
• 15. The Sand Volcano (5:40)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert includes no extra information about the score or film.

  All artwork and sound clips from The Mummy are Copyright © 1999, Decca 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 5/16/99 and last updated 4/20/08. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 1999-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.