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Filmmaker Roger Vadim created an entertaining, risque and psychedelic trip into a fantastical and often erotic and violent world when he filmed the sexy space yarn BARBARELLA. The movie which was a Italian/french/American co production  starred the directors wife Jane Fonda in the title role was released by Dino de Laurentis and Paramount pictures and was when thinks about it the first of its kind, by this I mean that we had not really seen anything quite like it before and is the reason that the word CULT was invented. The movie soon established itself as a popular movie and was taken to the hearts of cinema audiences all over the world for all sorts of reasons. The score for the film was originally written by the flamboyant and somewhat extrovert Michel Magne, however for reasons known only to him, Vadim decided to engage composers Bob Crewe and Charles Fox to provide the score. The duo produced what is now an iconic soundtrack that is a fusion of dramatic and pop orientated thematic material that is scattered with a sprinkling of catchy vocals, although saying this sections of the Magne score still remain in place in certain scenes and it is rumoured that it was Magne who conducted the score possibly also arranging certain cues, and it has to be said that on studying and listening to the score it certainly does contain various quirks and traits of orchestration that are synonymous with Magne. The soundtrack was originally released on a Stateside long playing record at the time of the films release, and then in later years a bootleg version was issued on compact disc but this was in mono and also had no pauses between the tracks probably because it was taken directly from the original record.

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This edition of the soundtrack released by Harkit Records who are based in the U.K. contains more or less the same track listing as the original vinyl release but also has a number of bonus tracks which include three radio spots and six cues from the score that are performed by a group called THE YOUNG LOVERS these are instrumental and very much belong to the easy listening or lounge genre of music with organ, saxophone and laid back percussion being the order of the day and I have to say are pretty faithful to the original compositions. But for me it is the score that is the main interest, Harkit have done a reasonable job on the presentation, utilising the original LP art work for the front cover and also providing informative notes and snippets of trivia which are insightful. The label have also worked on the sound quality giving it a much needed clarity from previous releases, although the YOUNG LOVERS tracks do seem to contain a little distortion and chatter and are a little dull in places as if they have been taken directly from a vinyl recording. Other than this I have to say I was pleased with the release especially the mini poster of Jane Fonda in BARBARELLA garb which is inside the compact disc liner.


The CD opens with the title song from the movie which is played over the now famous opening titles where we see Fonda as BARBARELLA gradually removing here space suit as she floats sensually towards us on screen. “BARBARELLA PSYCHADELLA” is a perfect opening to the proceedings performed by THE GLITTERHOUSE who were part of the BOB CREWE GENERATION and is the first of four vocals within the soundtrack the others being the outrageous LOVE, LOVE, DRAGS ME DOWN, the easy going and pleasant I LOVE ALL THE LOVE IN YOU which for me evokes that Bacharach/David effect, plus there is the end title vocals AN ANGEL IS LOVE. There is a slight mix up with the tracks however, they seem to get ahead of themselves by this I mean SKI RIDE is billed as track number 4 on the track listing, but it displays as track 5 when played, obviously something to do with the way in which the tracks were put together for the recording or the way in which certain cues spill or segue into others so this does kind of throw all the timings out but don’t think about it or you will focus on that and miss the great music. It is just a minor mishap and it does not spoil the listening enjoyment, it is the music that is the important thing and also the sound quality as well and the sequencing seems to rectify itself by the end of the compact disc anyway.

Charles Fox (left) and Bob Crewe at sessions for Barbarella.
Charles Fox (left) and Bob Crewe at sessions for Barbarella.

To select any one cue as being a stand out composition or a highlight piece from the score is quite honestly impossible as the music is consistently excellent throughout. My own personal favourites being, the aforementioned SKI RIDE, PYGARS NEW WINGS, FIGHT IN FLIGHT, ENTRANCE INTO SOGO, THE BLACK QUEENS BEADS, THE PILL, THE DESTRUCTION OF SOGO, and all the aforementioned vocals, (of course there are other cues available). Just how much input Michel Magne did have on the scoring of the film is unclear but saying that DESTRUCTION OF SOGO certainly evokes some of his music for films such as FANTOMAS. This is a classic soundtrack and if it is one that you have not experienced then you are missing out on some highly infectious and entertaining music.

Michel Magne.
Michel Magne.


Music notes from the GDI release THE MUMMY. © john Mansell. 1999.

with many thanks to Margaret Reizenstein.
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Composer Franz Reizenstein made his feature film debut with the score for the Hammer films production of THE MUMMY. His score is a sweeping and dramatic, yet remains lush , melodic and romantic.

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The principal theme doubles as a love theme depicting Kharis centuries old affection and infatuation for princess Ananka. Reizenstein reprises the central theme throughout his score arranging it and orchestrating it to suit the mood of the film and create greater depth and give atmosphere to the proceedings. Although it is this central theme that is the heart and soul of Reizenstein’s score, there are a number of musical moments along the way that are equally as stunning and prominent. The scene where the MUMMY is seen smashing its way into John Banning’s room is accompanied by rasping brass which enhances the scene by blaring out over a background of driving strings that is further embellished by the addition of chaotic sounding xylophone. His exciting composition stops abruptly when Banning’s wife Isobel enters the room after hearing the sounds of a struggle, Reizenstein introduces the love theme from his score as Kharis ceases his attack on banning thinking that Isobel is his long lost love Princess Ananka. Kharis then beats a retreat back through the smashed doors of the study and makes off into the darkness. The sense of danger and excitement within this scene is heightened greatly by Eisenstein’s exhilarating score and his masterful approach to the scene and the way in which he places his music. The films climatic scene is another example of image and music fusing to create the correct atmosphere and mood. Kharis returns to Banning’s home intent on killing him. Things however do not go to plan and the Mummy abducts Isobel, pursued by the police, villagers and also Banning the chase comes to an abrupt end at a swamp. Racing timpani and booming percussion accompany Kharis as he enters the swamp carrying Isobel; when the Mummy is shot down the timpani resembles a heart beat that is racing as if it is the heart of Kharis, the music then accompanies his gradual disappearance beneath the swamp, eventually fading away as the Mummy disappears completely.

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Franz Reizenstein was at the height of his musical powers when Hammer films commissioned him to write the score for THE MUMMY. Reizensteins music had its own style and fingerprint, the idiom being unmistakably twentieth century but not avant-garde. Many composers in the first half of the twentieth century became beguiled by the twelve tone series system, but Eisenstein found that the strict system cramped his natural style and he never cared for the tight intellectual music it produced. Reizenstein’s music flowed naturally from melodic ideas and harmonies with which the listener can easily identify. He composed concertos for piano, violin and also cello with orchestras, and two large scale choral works VOICES OF NIGHT and GENESIS. The latter was commissioned for the three choirs festival of 1958,which was held at Hereford Cathedral. The success of VOICES OF THE NIGHT led to the BBC asking Reizenstein to compose the first opera for broadcast on radio which was entitled ANNA KRAUS. This was the British entry for the prestigious Italia Prize. The composer also wrote music for documentary films and incidental music for a number of BBC productions. Shortly after his score for THE MUMMY, Reizenstein wrote the music for Sydney Hayers shocker CIRCUS OF HORRORS(1959). The composers versatility was also evident when Gerard Hoffnung asked him to write two works for the Hoffnung concerts. At first Reizenstein refused, arguing that he was a serious composer who would be reluctant to let his hair down at the Royal Albert hall. But Hoffnung persevered and Reizenstein eventually agreed contributing the witty CONCERTO POPLARE (or the piano concerto to end all piano concertos) and the hilarious LETS FAKE AN OPERA. Franz Reizenstein was born in Nuremberg on 7th June 1911. His father was a doctor and also an excellent amateur pianist. His elder sister was a painter and his elder brother played violin. The composer’s Mother was also musical and was astonished that her son could sing back to her all the songs she had sung to him in perfect pitch and time. At the age of four Franz began to teach himself to play the piano and began to also compose short pieces. When he was a teenager the sudden death of his Father inspired him to compose a piece in his memory. At the age of seventeen he decided to study composition under Paul Hindemith in Berlin. Despite opposition from his Uncle Eisenstein arrived in Berlin in 1930. As the 1930,s progressed the Jewish Reizenstein relocated to England and continued his studies at the Royal College of Music in Kensington. Whilst there he was under the tutelage of Vaughan Williams for composition and also studied under Solomon for piano. He never returned to Germany but instead adopted British nationality and remained in London until his untimely death at the age of 57, leaving a wife Margaret and a son John.