Popcorn…?

frogI never seem to have enough time free to go to the cinema these days… But back when I used to go fairly often, I always paid particular attention when the trailers for forthcoming movies were being shown. Naturally, me being me, I wasn’t interested in the tidal wave of cinematic slurry that these trailers usually represented: what I was curious about was the music. Let me explain.

If you know anything at all about the talent-destroying whirlwind of madness and greed that is the ‘film industry’ (particularly, but not exclusively, Hollywood’s), you’ll know that it’s not unusual for a film’s score to be produced rapidly and at a very late stage. For one thing, since there are likely to be respects in which background music needs to coordinate pretty exactly with on-screen timings and happenings, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for it to be composed — let alone expensively performed and recorded! — until at least the point when a ‘rough-cut’ has been produced. For another, it’s not at all uncommon for the first score written to fit a given film to be rejected by the director or the studio, meaning that another score has to be written, probably by another composer — and probably even more rapidly, if the film is being produced to meet a fixed release date. Add to this the possibility that a big-budget film’s advertising and marketing will start their ‘build-up’ weeks and weeks before the actual release, and you’ll see that it’s very often going to be the case that the trailer we see in our cinemas simply cannot use the music for the film — as the music for the film isn’t ready.

What this means is that the people who put the trailers together (and it’s no mean skill: I take my hat off to those folks!) will often have to source the music from somewhere else — and it’s always fun to see what they’ve done.

sliverSometimes, of course, the whole thing smacks of desperation. I think it must have been in 1993 when I saw the trailer for the film Sliver — and noticed that it actually used Jerry Goldsmith’s music for Basic Instinct (1992). Of course, since both films starred Sharon Stone, I thought I could see the way someone’s mind was working; only years later did I hear about just what a disaster the post- (and post-post-) production of Sliver had been — with (among other problems) no fewer than two composers having their work rejected before the credited Howard Shore arrived on the scene. (And even so, the soundtrack album still looks like this).

Around the same time, I saw the trailer for the film that rather unreasonably called itself Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ (1992). And, once again, there was a bit of music that I knew from somewhere else. Have a listen to the specific bit I mean:

Now, because five or six years earlier — i.e. the late 1980s — I’d shared a house with some musician friends who all used to seek out obscure contemporary music LPs from Eastern Europe, I recognised that bit of the score as part of the Symphonic Poem Krzesany by the sometime avant-gardist Pole Wojciech Kilar (1932–2013).

Here’s the bit I mean:

As it happens, even as late as 1993 I’d not heard much music by Kilar; but I knew he was very active as a composer of film scores in Poland. I remember thinking at the time that if the trailer for this kilarpicmega-budget Coppola production had grabbed some of his music off a record, then it must mean that Kilar had been booked to provide the music for this Western film — which meant that at that very moment he was probably struggling through desperate sleep-deprivation to get it all finished on time. And, sure enough, there was his name at the end of the trailer…

Here’s the entire trailer, in case you want that authentic 1993 experience:

And, now, here’s the whole of Krzesany (1974), so you can have that authentic experience as well. In the interests of conceptual reassurance, let me just say that the work’s title refers to a folk dance of the Góral people of the Tatra mountains in the far south of Poland: yes, just like Górecki (1933-2010) and the earlier Szymanowski (1882-1937), Kilar developed a fascination with the folk culture of the Tatra region. For the rest, rely on your ears — and prepare to be astonished:

If you’re curious to know — or would like to be reminded — about the music Kilar went on to provide for the Coppola film, let me first mention that it received the ASCAP Award from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Producers in Los Angeles — and then follow that with a clip of the very opening sequences of the film itself:

At the very least, Kilar would seem to have a pretty distinctive musical voice. So let’s all have a hunt about — not just for his concert music, but also to see if any of his Polish films are showing up anywhere: it would be interesting to know what he did in all those movies he scored behind the ‘Iron Curtain’, all those years ago…

MD

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3 thoughts on “Popcorn…?

  1. Let’s not forget one of the most effective of all “replacement” scores, that by Jerry Goldsmith for Chinatown. Written in 10 days. The only trailer you’ll find for this uses the original (abandoned) score (by Philip Lambro). Goldsmith’s score was orchestrated by Hollywood veteran Arthur Morton – as all too often, he’s uncredited (and that, in itself, could be the subject for a blog post).

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