Sunday, March 8, 2015

Film Score of the Week: Star Trek--The Motion Picture, by Jerry Goldsmith (1979)

In honor of Leonard Nimoy, Spock himself, all of us can live long and prosper with this great film music.

What I love about this score is that it captures everything the idea of the Star Trek franchise is supposed be: It's epic, but has this feeling of being continuous instead of climactic. Star Trek is, after all, a series about the journey, not the destination. 

And what Goldsmith doesn't get enough credit for here is that this score was directly competing against John Williams' Star Wars score, and really held it's own pretty well. People forget, Star Trek was only a three season show that got cancelled at the end of the '60s, and might not ever have been heard from again had it not been for Star Wars in 1977, and every other film studio immediately trying to duplicate that type of success. Hence the resurrection of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, released in 1979, which tried to play to that same audience and failed miserably (with people snarkily calling it "The Motionless Picture" for how goddamned boring it was). The score was the only element that met expectations. 

Jerry Goldsmith is definitely in contention for the title of "Greatest film composer that most people don't know by name." He's basically the poor man's John Williams, and I mean that in the same way you might call L.A. Confidential the poor man's Chinatown--both great, one definitely better. (And both of which Goldsmith wrote the score for!)

Basically, Goldsmith is supremely talented at writing semi-epic scores for semi-franchise movies, just never being quite as good at it as Williams (as though anyone ever could be). In addition to this one, he wrote memorable scores to Alien, The Omen, The Planet of the Apes, Gremlins, Air Force OneFirst Blood (Rambo), The Mummy, Basic Instinct, Poltergeist, Patton, and several others. Along the way, he collected 18 Oscar nominations, but only won once (Original Score for The Omen, 1976). He died in 2004, with 250 composer credits to his IMDb page. 

Leonard and Jerry-- Live Long and Prosper. 

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