The Bounty (1984)
Music composed by Vangelis.
20 Tracks (Playing Time = 68:03)
Album produced by Mark Banning and Dominik Hauser. Music arranged, programmed, and performed by Dominik Hauser. Also features music from BITTER MOON, FRANCESCO, and THE PLAGUE. Featured vocalist on “She Moved Through the Night” and theme from THE PLAGUE Katie Campbell. Featured violinist on “Bonny Kate” and “Drowsy Maggie,” Elizabeth Hardin. Violin tracks recorded by Gregg Karukas at Nightowl Studios, Thousand Oaks, CA. THE BOUNTY recorded at Hauser Music, Pasadena, CA, July-September 2010. Digitally edited and mastered by James Nelson at Digital Outland. CD Art Direction by Mark Banning.
BSX Records 8881
Limited edition of 2000 copies.
The story about the 1789 mutiny on the HMS Bounty had four previous film adaptations before 1984 among which the most known were the MGM Charles Laughton and Clark Gable version (1935) and its remake with Marlon Brando some twenty-five plus years later (1962). About the same time passed between that version and Ronald Donaldson’s 1984 film THE BOUNTY. The story however was drawn not from the familiar Nordhoff and Hall novel but from the 1972 historical novel Captain Bligh and Mr. Christian by Richard Hough. Originally intended as a two-part David Lean production, the film suffered from a series of unfortunate delays and studio abandonment until Dino De Laurentiis, who had already sunk some 4 million dollars into the project, decided to regroup and move forward moving director Donaldson from his current project, CONAN THE DESTROYER, to THE BOUNTY. The cast assembled was impressive: Mel Gibson, Anthony Hopkins, Laurence Olivier, Daniel Day-Lewis, Liam Neeson—to name a few.
As to the music, it should not be surprising that Maurice Jarre was to score the film, but instead electronic scoring pioneer Vangelis was brought in. The composer had built a steady list of interesting scores coming off his Oscar for CHARIOTS OF FIRE and after music for BLADE RUNNER, MISSING, and a Japanese adventure ANTARCTICA he seems less of an odd choice. Smack in the middle of the decade when synthesizers and live orchestras vied for the next trend in film scoring, Vangelis’ choice seems less surprising even though critics at the time found the music wrong for such a historical setting.
The score for THE BOUNTY is instantly recognizable as a Vangelis piece with its arching thematic ideas and fluttery textures around themes and ideas, but the darker elements of the score are what are most fascinating. The music tends to address the more emotional psychology of the characters and freely responds to that power as the music plays out. From its opening dark pulses (representing Bligh) of the “Main Title” we are already being drawn in to a different sort of adventure that might find us in the midst of a Joseph Conrad novel. In addition to the soundscapes and designs of original music, there are several traditional melodies incorporated for some sequences and “She Moved Through the Fair” is actually one of the highlights of the score. The sung lyric, beautifully performed here by Katie Campbell, features an intriguing blend of electronics and traditional sounding ethnic instruments in a perfectly dreamlike setting. It lies in stark contrast to the darker thematic ideas used for Bligh and Christian and the tension that plays out between them throughout the story.
Vangelis tended to work without written score materials, improvising to picture without even the use of click tracks. That approach seems phenomenal when one begins to unpack the many strands of the score that continue to recur as the score plays on with enough intriguing design backgrounds and a recurrence of themes that create a far more interesting listen musically then one would expect. It turns out to be a far more engaging score than CHARIOTS OF FIRE and as dramatically arresting as BLADE RUNNER.
Having not heard the original Vangelis performance in some time, it is hard to compare this new one arranged and performed by Dominik Hauser. But while there may be slight performance variances in tempo, the spirit and style of Vangelis is perfectly captured in this production. Violinist Elizabeth Hedman performs the several shanties that appear in the film. The disc would be highly recommendable for fans of electronic music on just the score alone but BSX Records has included several bonus tracks.
The score proper makes up roughly 50+ minutes of music. The remainder of the disc features selections from other previously unreleased Vangelis scores. The oldest is from the 1989 Italian docudrama FRANCESCO featuring a combination of piano and synths. Selections from two 1992 scores are also featured. The first is a brief medley from Polanski’s BITTER MOON and the second is the theme from THE PLAGUE featuring Katie Campbell’s voice over the top of Hauser’s accompaniment to its theme. The latter film Vangelis had his credit removed from for unknown reasons. The disc closes with a shorter version edit of THE BOUNTY’s end credits.
As a mid-1980s score there are plenty of sounds and ideas that were common for synth scores of the time. What sets this one apart a bit is its intriguing dramatic sensibility that feels as integrated as a traditional score. Hauser also manages to capture the sort of immediacy of improvisational response to imagery that Vangelis’ compositional approach tried to achieve.
--Steven A. Kennedy, 15 December 2010
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