An ill-fated movie that was met with so many negative reviews at the time of its release. But, I have to say on watching it again recently I quite enjoyed it. And I also took special care to try and listen to the score by the iconic composer John Corigliano. The composer is mainly known for his concert hall music symphonies and operas etc, but on a few occasions he has ventured into scoring movies, Revolution being one of them. Released in 1985 and directed by Hugh Hudson, the movie was not really given a fair chance, as so many critics had a downer on it before things had even got going.
The movie starred Al Pacino and Donald Sutherland who I thought were both excellent in their respective roles. The cast also featured a number of familiar faces including vintage British/comedian actor Dave King and Richard O Brien of Rocky Horror Show fame. The love interest was provided by the delightful and beautiful Nastasssja Kinsky and included notable performances from Joan Plowright and Steven Berkoff and featured the likes of Annie Lennox and Sid Owen. New York trapper Tom Dobb (Al Pacino) becomes an unwilling participant in the American Revolution after his young son Ned (Dexter Fletcher) is conscripted into the British Army as a drummer by the villainous and instantly loathed Sergeant Major Peasy (Donald Sutherland). Tom attempts to find his son, and eventually becomes convinced that he must take a stand and fight for the freedom of the Colonies. He crosses path with the aristocratic rebel Daisy McConnahay (Nastassja Kinski), who gets involved in the support of the American troops.
As Tom undergoes his change of heart, the events of the war unfold and develop into a war rather than a skirmish. The musical score by Corigliano is a supportive work and one which has a life of its own away from the images and the storyline of the movie. The opening track on the soundtrack is an attention-grabbing piece with the composer employing horns and percussion within the cue entitled Revolution in the Air which sets the scene for most of what is to follow musically. There is an urgency purveyed in the brief but effective opening cue that seems to prepare the listener for the at times exciting but lyrical sounding score. The composer conveys a sense of desperation and of futility in the war that is beginning to escalate between the British and Americans who are fighting for their independence. There are so many rich themes within the soundtrack, Corigliano fashioning a compelling and emotive score that is tragic but at the same time poignant and dramatic.
This style manifests itself in the track War Lament, which after a more subdued introduction becomes overflowing with soaring strings that emphasise and depict the tragic and desperation being experienced by the American people and troops. I believe the score is superior to the movie, as it outshines it marvellously on numerous occasions. Which brings us to the question of is the score for a movie that is deemed not good doomed to also be forgotten or labelled as bad because the film slips into the ether forever branded unworthy? We have seen this happen on many occasions where a composer creates a brilliant score for a movie that is uninteresting or just downright awful. And on hearing that the film is bad many assume that everything about it is also not worth bothering with. Revolution may not have been a good movie, but the score is serviceable at least and should be given a fair chance.
I am sure that as soon as you hear it you will be wanting to re-listen. But of course, this is just my opinion, why not go to digital platforms and reach your own conclusions. The Foxhunt and The Children’s Theme are both stunning compositions with the latter being a beautifully understated piece for woodwind which is underlined by subdued strings, the composer creating an eloquent and fragile piece that has to it a lilting and charming air which features the talents of Sir James Galway. Whilst on these digital platforms maybe take a listen to the composers scores for The Red Violin or Altered States, which are more than worthy examples of a classical or concert hall composer scoring motion pictures. You never know you may even like his classical works. Enjoy.