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Comments about the soundtrack for Alien (Jerry Goldsmith)

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Disdain for Scott?
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• Posted by: Indiana Schwartz   <Send E-Mail>
• Date: Monday, July 20, 2009, at 4:07 p.m.
• IP Address:

I agree that the score is a challenging one and that the production itself may be to blame for that, but I do not agree with the assertion that the reason for this was Scott's inexperience and lack of intelligence.

First of all, the initial slight to the film's success owing to Cameron's addition to the franchise is a bit unfair. "Alien" was actually quite a hit, on the contrary to what the review states, earning upwards of 75 million in it's initial run in 1979 (NOT shabby for the time.. and particularly stellar for a film with an "R" rating in the US and an "X" in Europe). It was nominated for and won Oscars, BAFTA's and numerous other awards and was positively received by critics.

Scott's direction was hugely modern, intelligent and ahead of it's time. Goldsmith's idea of moving from fantastical suspense to horror isn't necessarily the more intelligent approach to the film. It may have been the more logical, traditional approach, but Scott wasn't traditional with "Alien" in any sense. In the end, it is Scott's film and Goldsmith's refusal to work with the director's ideas because he was young and inexperienced, while quite out of form for the composer, only speaks to the fact that Scott was reaching beyond what was expected. Frankly, ignoring Scott's wishes for the music while composing the score is somewhat arrogant. Goldsmith may have been upset about the treatment of his music in the film, but the film is a success nonetheless the way it ended up and perhaps if he had just written the type of music Scott has asked for in the beginning, we may now have a classic, commercially accessible score to go along with this titan of sci-fi/horror cinema.

Scott did applaud Goldsmith's work and I really don't think he was saving face by saying it. I do believe he meant it sincerely. Goldsmith was not wholly available or willing to make all the changes that Scott wanted and Scott did what he had to do. The two worked together only a few short years later on "Legend," though, unfortunately, an even worse circumstance happened with Goldsmith's music. Although that time around, the director and composer were on the same side of the debacle.

Overall, I agree with the review and the overall star rating, but to argue that the music isn't effective in the film the way it stands is pretty ridiculous. I do not think the film would have had the same effect with Goldsmith's original ideas for the score. The score may not be lush or romantic, but that would have gone against Scott's minimalistic idea which eventually yielded an early masterwork.

Comments in this Thread:     Expand >>
  •   Disdain for Scott?  (4015 views)    We're Here
       Indiana Schwartz - Monday, July 20, 2009, at 4:07 p.m.

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