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Section Header
Raise the Titanic
Composed by:
John Barry

Reconstructed and Conducted by:
Nic Raine

Performed by:
The City of Prague Philharmonic

Produced by:
James Fitzpatrick

Silva Screen Records

Release Date:
September 21st, 1999

Also See:
Dances With Wolves
High Road to China

Audio Clips:
3. The Sicilian Project/Dog Attack (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

6. To Cornwall/"All That's Left" (0:22):
WMA (143K)  MP3 (172K)
Real Audio (106K)

9. The Titanic Uncovered (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

14. Titanic Enters New York Harbor (0:32):
WMA (211K)  MP3 (262K)
Real Audio (170K)

Regular U.S. release.


Raise the Titanic

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Sales Rank: 257096

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Buy it... if you consider yourself any remote fan of John Barry's romantically dramatic themes and rhythmic structures of the 1980's and 1990's, or if you seek possibly the best re-recording of a complete score in history.

Avoid it... if the origins of Barry's trademark dramatic sound, regardless of its superior incarnation at the outset, are still simply too boring for you to overlook the style's majestic qualities.

Raise the Titanic: (John Barry) Both in 1980 and decades later, Raise the Titanic was destined to sink. Costing $40 million to produce and only grossing $7 domestically, the film adapted Clive Cussler's tense cold war story and introduced his recurring character of Dirk Pitt to the screen. Every part of that story has been rendered moot, from the radioactive cold war elements to the entire idea that the famed, sunken ship was in any shape to be brought to the surface. The film was made only a few years before the real Titanic was first discovered in the North Atlantic. Still, the story was ambitious; a rare ore that was being transported on the ship is coveted by both the American and Russian militaries for a nuclear defense system, and the only way to get a hold of it is to float the entire ship to the surface. The Americans accomplish just that, finally locating the Titanic, repairing holes in its hull, and using foam and explosive force to launch it back to the surface. After the ship is tugged into New York harbor, it's discovered, of course, that none of the ore was actually aboard the ship. Bummer! Even more troublesome was the aforementioned fact that audiences simply didn't care to sit through the lengthy search and other character-building sequences to finally see the ship resurface and the potential military standoff to follow. Other than perhaps a solid cast and dazzling special effects, the film's best aspect was its score by the highly bankable John Barry. Having moved to America only a few years earlier, he was busy providing music for a larger quantity of lesser-known projects. Having just completed Moonraker and The Black Hole, Barry accepted the task of composing a majestic score for Raise the Titanic. Sharing many thematic and rhythmic characteristics are The Black Hole and Raise the Titanic, and neither score has ever been released in original form on an official album in the following thirty years.

Long ranked by many soundtrack collectors as part of their top ten "most wanted on CD" lists, Raise the Titanic represented one of the first widely known epic scores in Barry's career since his move to America. The original master tapes on which the recording sessions from 1980 reside have seemingly been lost forever, which explains the sad lack of any album. Due to demand from both fans and John Barry himself, Silva Screen Records commissioned the recording of the entire 50-minute score with the City of Prague Philharmonic in 1999. Conductor Nic Raine, who worked directly with John Barry over the years on feature assignments, spectacularly reconstructed, orchestrated, and conducted the score, very well capturing the awe-inspiring power and spirit of Barry's original recording. As for the quality of the music itself, many film score collectors will favor Raise the Titanic over James Horner's infamous, Oscar-winning 1997 score for Titanic, though both scores are extremely representative of their respective composers' styles. While Barry has taken his due criticism for embellishing the same romantic, string-dominated style in too many of his scores over the last twenty years of his career, Raise the Titanic is distinctive because it was among the first of this type of score. When the film came out in the theatres, the score was a remarkably fresh and unique experience, and out of the novelty of that style of music arose the popularity of techniques that would inform Barry's Oscar-winning efforts for Out of Africa and Dances With Wolves. The intriguing thing about Raise the Titanic is that many people forget that the film is, first and foremost, a tale of espionage with massive scientific accomplishments weighing heavily in a nuclear world. As such, Barry balances his sweeping string theme for the ship itself with numerous subthemes involving militaristic percussion and brass.

The majority of the score, and almost the entire first half, contains significant lengths of suspenseful music very similar to the "sneaking" moments in the composer's James Bond scores. The "Dog Attack" sequence in the third track on this album features a brass motif that recalls the power and resilience of The Lion in Winter. The only splashy cue on album is the jaunty "To Cornwall," which includes a very brief (but also sought after) secondary theme as well. Other singular motifs litter the score, but they are largely forgotten compared to the Titanic's theme and the often utilized "searching theme." This latter, dramatic motif is foreshadowed in "Main Title" but establishes itself for the middle portions of the film in "Deep Quest." This very slow and melodramatic search theme occupies sole possession of several following cues. The falling strings offer a great "sinking feeling" while the mini-submersibles are crawling along the depths of the ocean, and Barry collectors will notice significant similarities to The Black Hole in these cues. When all is said and done, though, the main Titanic theme is the one that interests most Barry fans. And given its majestic scope, that love is no surprise. A glorious performance of the theme opens the film as we see pictures of the ship as it first prepares to sail in "Prelude." Then, appropriately, the theme is not heard again until the Titanic is discovered at the bottom of the sea (and even then, it's a muddled, stifled performance). But in the last 20 minutes of the film (or the last 4 tracks on the album), the theme's performances are nothing less than magnificent. Bursting onto the screen with barely any sound effects and no dialogue for an extended sequence in the film, the expansive theme's rendering rivals the splendor of the special effects during the actual "Raise the Titanic" scene.

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The Titanic theme re-surfaces as the ship heroically sails into New York's harbor; in the film, the sounds of all the accompanying ships' horns blowing in perfect harmony with Barry's music makes the cue the highlight of the score, if not arguably the single highlight of Barry's entire career. Even without the harmonious sound effects, the cue is the kind that can still send shivers up your spine, even thirty years after debut. The end credits provide one last, concert-like performance of this theme. In between these final scenes is the "Memories of the Titanic" cue, which treats the haunted main ballroom with a solitary and melancholy subtheme performed beautifully by piano, saxophone, and trumpet. It's a spooky, but remarkably effective and elegant cue. Less appealing are the militaristic rhythms for snare and brass heard in "Russian Threat" and a few times before; Barry's little march is too trite to address the gravity of the situation. Considered in the whole, however, the film contains a wealth of great thematic material that generally works wonders in the vast majority of scenes. The complete score release on CD by Silva Screen is among the most satisfying albums in the Filmtracks library. The accomplishments achieved here by Nic Raine and the City of Prague Philharmonic are superb. Because of Raine's careful work, the recording is very true to the original, yet it features, of course, the stunning surround sound we have come to expect from the Silva recordings. The packaging includes a very thorough track-by-track analysis. As producer James Fitzpatrick mentions in the insert notes, the recording sessions went very smoothly, and this definitely can be heard in the relaxed and confident performances by the City of Prague Philharmonic. Collectors weary of Barry's habit of endlessly repeating the same harmonic structures in all of his dramatic 80's and 90's scores should give this one a shot. Every trademark sound has a beginning, as well as a high point. In this case, Raise the Titanic happens to be both. ***** Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For John Barry reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.85 (in 27 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.48 (in 25,327 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

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 Track Listings: Total Time: 50:21

• 1. Prelude (1:58)
• 2. Main Title/The Mine Shaft (3:16)
• 3. The Sicilian Project/Dog Attack (2:33)
• 4. The Sicilian Defence/Southby/"The Mountain Comes to Us" (3:06)
• 5. "We're in Business" (1:45)
• 6. To Cornwall/"All That's Left" (Memories of the Titanic) (2:27)
• 7. Deep Quest/Flood! (5:26)
• 8. Finding the Cornet/Spy on Board/The Smoke Stack (4:53)
• 9. The Titanic Uncovered (3:58)
• 10. Gene Explores the Titanic/Deep Quest Trapped (3:43)
• 11. Rescue Attempt/Blowing the Tanks (3:50)
• 12. Raise the Titanic/Deep Quest Saved (3:32)
• 13. Memories of the Titanic (2:10)
• 14. Russian Threat/The Titanic Enters New York Harbor (2:58)
• 15. "Thank God for Southby"/In the Graveyard/End Titles (4:46)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert contains extensive notes about the album's production, the film and each cue of the score. The track listings on the back of the packaging mistakenly indicate a 16th track; in fact, tracks 15 and 16 should be 14 and 15 (the packaging mentions no track 14).

  All artwork and sound clips from Raise the Titanic are Copyright © 1999, Silva Screen 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 8/31/99 and last updated 6/17/08. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 1999-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.