There have been a number of cinematic versions of the classic H.Rider Haggard tale of adventure, mystery and romance SHE. This particular incarnation of the story was released in 2001, Directed by Canadian born Timothy Bond who has mostly worked in television contributing to series such as MUTANT X, GOOSEBUMPS, HERCULES-THE LEGENDARY JOURNEYS, FOREVER KNIGHT and ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS among others. This particular re-working of SHE tells the tale of Leo Vincey (Ian Duncan) who has received a map from his late Father, the map shows the whereabouts of the legendary lost city of Kor. Vincey accompanied by his partner Roxanne (Marie Baumer) sets out to not only find the City but also to find out the mystery that surrounds his own ancestry. After a while it transpires that Vincey is a direct descendant of an Egyptian priest who dared to fall in love with a Princess and for his crime was executed. On finding the lost city Vincey discovers that the ruling Queen is in fact that same Princess, AYESHA-SHE WHO MUST BE OBEYED (Ophelie Winter) who has somehow via magic remained youthful throughout all of the centuries that have passed. When Vincey is presented to the Queen she becomes convinced that he is the reincarnation of her dead lover who has returned to be with her but is enraged and becomes intent on killing him. H. Rider Haggard’s inventive and exciting story has transferred to film well on more than one occasion, in fact one of the first cinematic presentations of the story was in 1925, it was then filmed again in 1935 which is the version that many say is probably the best.
Hammer films in the U.K. also made a version of the story and cast Ursula Andress in the title role who was supported by Hammer stalwart Peter Cushing and John Richardson, the movie was such a success it spawned a sequel THE VENGEANCE OF SHE which sadly was not as lucrative for the house of horror. The story of SHE is one that is filled with romantic and dramatic scenarios, it is steeped in mystery and also has to it an aura that is magical and compelling. The musical score for SHE (2001) was composed and conducted by Italian Maestro Stelvio Cipriani, the Maestro was no stranger to scoring movies which contained such a plethora of action and excitement, after all his career in scoring movies began back in the early 1960,s and has continued to flourish and grow with the composer still active in the film scoring arena today. Cipriani was born in Rome in 1937 and after leaving school decided to train as an accountant, eventually however he decided that it was music that he would follow as a career. He was particularly active during the 1960,s through to the mid 1980,s scoring numerous Italian made westerns and penning one of the most famous themes from that genre A MAN A HORSE AND A GUN which was written for the movie THE STRANGER RETURNS in 1967.
Cipriani excelled when it came to creating infectious and haunting themes for motion pictures his most famous or notable non western score being for the award winning movie THE ANONYMOUS VENETIAN in 1970, a soundtrack which is still today held in high regard by many and remains available as a recording after numerous re-issues etc. The composer is also able to create spine chilling and fearsome musical cues for the horror genre working on movies such as BAY OF BLOOD and BARON BLOOD. Cipriani,s score for SHE is a powerful one, filled with lush and rich sounding thematic material that would not be out of place in one of the many epics as produced by Hollywood during the Golden Age of cinema or even because of its appealing and alluring melodious persona might be mistaken for any of the works of Angelo Lavagnino, Carlo Savina or Carlo Rustichelli when either of the three Maestros worked on Italian made sword and sandal sagas. Mysterious, romantic and filled with drama and apprehension.
It also contains a slightly more contemporary feel in parts with the composer adding at times a modern or upbeat style to the proceedings, the inclusion of which maintains an air of freshness and vitality throughout the work. The composer has over 250 film scores to his credit and his music has been heard more recently on films such as THE MAN FROM UNCLE, DEATH PROOF and GRINDHOUSE.
John Mansell (MMI/IFMCA)