Originally released on a long playing Liberty records album in 1965, GENGHIS KHAN was the second historical movie that composer Dusan Radic worked on, the other being THE LONG SHIPS two years previous. For a movie that was not Hollywood produced GENGHIS KHAN got quite a lot of publicity, this was I think due mainly to the movies impressive cast which was headed by at that time hot property actor Omar Sharif in the title role. Although not a high budget production, the movie achieved fair returns at the cinema box office in the UK, but did not fare so well in other territories, this was certainly a case of the public liking it because it was just an adventure uncomplicated and filled with action, but the critics shunned and were unkind to it.
The negative reviews coming mainly because the films storyline was flawed on few counts as in being historically correct, but this was cinema in the 1960,s and the studios involved I think were more interested in getting a return for their investments and putting bums on seats rather than being given awards and receiving acclaim from critics for producing a correct and informative biopic. The musical score by composer Radic, was in many ways text book epic all’a Hollywood of the golden age era, with a rousing central theme which was entitled THE MARCH OF THE MONGOLS opening the soundtrack recording. This composition set the scene beautifully for the remainder of Radic’s imposing work, the composer writing a particularly romantically lush and lavish love theme in the form of track number two, ALWAYS YOUR HAND, which is the musical link between Genghis Khan and the love of his life portrayed by Francoise Dorleac. Radic also infused an Oriental sound into his score giving it some authenticity, however when I say oriental sound I suppose it is more of a western notion of how Chinese music sounds, this type of scoring can be heard more prominently within the cues BATH A LA CHINESE, THE EMPEROR OF CHINA and momentarily as an introduction to RETURN TO PEKING. For much of the of the score however the composer utilises strings, percussion and rousing brass flourishes to convey a sense of grandeur and at times drama as in track number six, PARADE OF THE MONGOL HORDE, and it is because of this style of scoring that one could easily mistake this for the work of a Hollywood based composer, such as Bernstein, Rozsa and Waxman. The score was conducted by British composer/musical director Muir Matheison, who’s name was and still is synonymous with mainly British movies during the late 1940,s through to the late 1960,s.
Matheison apparently was also responsible for the orchestrations on the GENGHIS KHAN score, which might explain a slight shift in style and direction by Radic when one compares it to THE LONG SHIPS, however saying that there are also certain quirks of orchestration within GENGHIS KHAN that did manifest themselves originally in Radic’s music for THE LONG SHIPS. Radic treats us to many varying arrangements of his rousing central theme or march during the short but entertaining duration of the compact disc, with proud and patriotic sounding brass underlined by cantering strings which are romantic and heroic. The galloping and urgent strings form the backbone to many of the cues written for the films impressive battle scenes and can be heard achieving their most dramatic and vital involvement within THE GREAT BATTLE. This is a soundtrack that so richly deserved to be released onto compact disc, the first incarnation of the score on compact disc was somewhat dubious, it was issued in 1998 on the German based Tickertape label which essentially was a bootleg.
But as with many of these such productions collectors were just pleased to have the soundtrack, this first edition had fairly good sound up until the tracks that would have been on the B side of the original album, these were slightly distorted and some towards the end of the disc almost un-listenable, enter then KRITZERLAND and the ever industrious Mr KIMMEL in 2010 with an official release that contained two bonus tracks and far superior sound quality. Overall then a score that you as a collector of fine movie scores should attempt to add to your collection, recommended highly. THE LONG SHIPS is also released on a Tickertape CD but the sound quality is very sub-standard indeed,the score is also released on FSM paired with LORD JIM.