Tag Archives: BASIL POLEDOURIS

CHERRY 2000.

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Released in 1987, CHERRY 2000 is set in the year 2017 (so just two years away from now). The United States has been hit by a series of civil unrest periods and also a number of serious economic downturns which has resulted in the country being fragmented and separated into sparsely populated areas leaving much of the country a desolate wasteland. Because of the economic situation the norm is now not to replace but repair equipment that is from the 20th Century as new products are not being manufactured. But saying this robotics has come forward in leaps and bounds with Female androids being in demand to take the place of human females and also acting as substitute spouses or companions for males. Sam Treadwell played by David Andrews has a Cherry 2000 android which he inadvertently shorts out whilst engaging in sex with it on a wet washroom floor (someone should have told him water and high voltage don’t mix). He calls the repair man but the news is not good the parts he needs for his Cherry 2000 are near on impossible to get, the repair guy offers Sam one of his own models but Sam refuses asking where he might get the parts for his own, apparently the parts were manufactured in Zone 7 which is in the Antebellum area which would you not guess it is a particularly violent and dangerous area. So we are off on a quest to find the part for the android, Sam enlists the aid of a tracker Edith E Johnson played by Melanie Griffith with red hair. It is her job to guide him through Zone 7 safely get the part and return him to the relative safety of his home, simple yes ? Well actually not really.

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The music for the movie is the work of composer Basil Poledouris, who creates an amazingly thematic and dramatic score for the picture that to be honest outshines the actually film it has been written to support. There is a definite Western sound to the work, the composer combining both electronic and symphonic elements to produce a soundtrack that is filled to overflowing with infectious sounding themes and romantically laced compositions, these are played alongside an equal amount of fairly fast paced action cues which although can be atonal in their make up still remain melodic. The composer utilises the brass section to great effect within the score and laces this with a scattering of strings and woodwinds, at times giving us a fleeting snippet from an electric guitar. Percussion too features large within the score underlining the more dramatic moments within the score, synthetic sounds do play a big part within the score but they are fused with conventional instrumentation and compliment the orchestral sections of the score wonderfully. His is I would say one of the composers best and that is saying something when you consider the scores he wrote in his sadly short life.

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As I have already stated in my opinion there is a definite Western feel to the work, which manifest themselves within the scores central theme which is rather like 100 RIFLES meets ROBOCOP, bold and forthright and highly thematic. I cannot recommend this score enough, it may be difficult to purchase as the original was on the Varese Sarabande CD club label initially and then more recently in 2004 released by Prometheus being paired with the composers score for NO MANS LAND. Then there is the 2011 Intrada special release which also includes music from THE HOUSE OF GOD. Any version would be a plus to any collection. Just buy it.

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BASIL POLEDOURIS

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During the many years of collecting and enjoying music from motion pictures I have encountered many composers, my first encounter with the art of film music being Maurice Jarres epic score for LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, in the past half century or so I have savoured and relished each and every new score from composers that are sadly either no longer with us or are new up and coming talents within the film music arena. One composer that has always stood out for me personally and holds a special place within my musical heart and soul is Basil Poledouris. My first encounter with his music like many fellow collectors was with THE BLUE LAGOON and after hearing his addictive themes for that project looked for more of the same,

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But it was his mammoth and thundering soundtrack for CONAN THE BARBARIAN, that arrived next and we all very quickly found out there was far more to this composers music than pretty themes, the order of the day on CONAN was action fuelled cues, a powerhouse of a soundtrack that simply left one stunned at its ferocity and gigantic persona. Basil’s gift for melody also shone through on CONAN alongside the full on battle music he created soft and subtle tone poems and fashioned haunting and beautiful melodies that lingered within the mind of the listener long after the music had stopped playing.

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I remember when I first got CONAN THE BARBARIAN on Milan records I was just literally blown away by the quality and also the sheer magnitude of the score. Poledouris created a sumptuous and commanding work which immediately became an iconic work within the realms of film music and beyond. CONAN was impressively powerful and wonderfully exhilarating and without the score I think the movie maybe might not have gained the attention it attracted, for this was certainly one of those rare moments in cinema when image and music fused perfectly. The composer brought out the rawness of the films storyline and underlined the violence and savagery as it unfolded upon the screen, but he also gave it heart as he supported the very few tender moments within the storyline delicately and effectively, penning the beautifully mesmerising love theme or WIFEING for the love scene between CONAN and Valeria and also creating a mystical and otherworldly atmosphere for the villain of the piece Thulsa Doom.

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Soon after CONAN came scores such as RED DAWN, CHERRY 2000, QUIGLEY DOWN UNDER,ROBOCOP,MAKING THE GRADE, LONESOME DOVE, FLESH AND BLOOD,THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER and FAREWELL TO THE KING. The latter is for me literally awash with rich and emotive thematic material and I have to mark this as one of my most played Poledouris scores along side CONAN THE BARBARIAN (of Course). There is an intimacy and a fragility present within this work that just attracts me and on every listen I find it as fresh and vibrantly moving as I did when I first heard it. There is a Barry-esque sound to its strings and horn lines that simply invade the listeners emotions and envelope them and with the added inclusion of Pan Pipes it is a score that oozes poignancy. The composer also providing a pomp and stuff and nonsense march along with a charming slow waltz theme all of which combine to support and ingratiate the movie. There is no doubt whatsoever that Basil Poledouris was a master of his craft and a supreme purveyor of rich, lavish and lush themes and is a composer and also a person that is still now missed greatly. He further consolidated his place in film music history and the annuals of cinema with scores for movies such as FREE WILLY, ITS MY PARTY, ROBOCOP 3, THE JUNGLE BOOK, FOR THE LOVE OF THE GAME,MICKEY BLUE EYES and KIMBERLY to select but a handful. His career as a film music composer and his own life was sadly brought to an end on November 8th 2006, when Basil passed away after a long fight with cancer.

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Born Basilis Konstantine Poledouris on August 21st 1945 in Kansas City USA a Greek-American. He began to take piano lessons at the age of 7 and was eventually to enter USC to study Directing, cinematography, editing, sound and Music. It was whilst studying that he met John Milius and also Randal Kleiser, who were acclaimed film makers and also directors he would work with in the future. Although the composer had already written the score for John Milius,s film BIG WEDNESDAY in 1978 it was not really until 1982 that he began to be noticed when he scored CONAN THE BARBARIAN also directed by Milius. His score was a revelation to many in the film industry and garnered the composer much critical acclaim his soundtrack being hailed as probably the best from the 1980,s. Which is an opinion that many still this day agree with. In 1984 he scored the sequel CONAN THE DESTROYER which was a weaker film not having the originality and savagery of the original, and at times played for laughs rather than thrills under the direction of Richard Fleischer.
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Poledouris continued his collaboration with Milius on RED DAWN in 1985 and also began a working collaboration and friendship with director Paul Verhoeven, when he scored FLESH AND BLOOD which was a bawdy, violent and exciting adventure set in medieval times. The collaboration continued in 1987 on ROBOCOP and then again in 1997 on STARSHIP TROOPERS. Basil Poledouris was a composer that seemed to be comfortable in any situation and any genre of film, his themes underlined and supported each and every project he worked upon eloquently and superbly, he in my opinion was one of the greats of film music and his character and personality lives on in his unique and gracious music.

FLESH AND BLOOD.

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Released in 1985, FLESH AND BLOOD was a kind of medieval version of The Wild Bunch. Its graphic and excessive violence and scenes of a sexual nature being shocking and at times blatantly brutal, but this was supposedly the middle ages and a time of war, famine and plague so maybe the director got it right when he committed his vision of medieval times to celluloid. Paul Verhoeven had made a name for himself in Holland and also in Europe with his own particular brand of film making and had garnered attention from the executives in Hollywood with his movies SOLDIER OF ORANGE and THE 4TH MAN. FLESH AND BLOOD was to be the directors first Hollywood picture, and the filmmaker decided to base his story upon certain segments of a television series that he had worked on some 16 years earlier in Holland, these segments which were unused ideas within the series FLORIS were developed and expanded by Verhoeven and soon became the framework for FLESH AND BLOOD. Rutger Hauer took the lead role in FLORIS so it seemed a natural step to offer the actor the lead in FLESH AND BLOOD, Hauer played the leader of a group of mercenaries who were ruthless, unmerciful and callous who sold their services to the highest bidder, when one such paymaster betrays them they retaliate by taking hostage his future daughter in law. But rather than being terrified their prisoner adapts and embraces their way of life. The musical score for this rip roaring, blood soaked adventure, is the work of Master film music Maestro Basil Poledouris, who sadly passed away far too early after loosing his fight with cancer in 2006. Verhoeven had heard the composer’s epic score for CONAN THE BARBARIAN (1982) and wanted him to create an equally epic work for his production. As we all probably know Poledouris did not disappoint with his musical soundtrack for FLESH AND BLOOD and the director must have been pleased because the composer and filmmaker collaborated again on two other movies, ROBOCOP in 1987 and STARSHIP TROOPERS in 1997. Although FLESH AND BLOOD contained a certain amount of the style and sound that Poledouris had employed within CONAN it was not just a reprise of the composers work for the John Milius movie, in fact given the subject matter and also the amount of violence and action within FLESH AND BLOOD the composers score was richly lyrical and romantic at times. Originally released on a VARESE SARABANDE long playing record with 11 tracks then as a CD on the Varese Sarabande club label with the same amount of music tracks, this score was destined to become a rare and sought after commodity by collectors. In 2002 Belgium based Prometheus records re-issued the score as a 21 track CD then again it was re-issued in 2010 on Intrada containing 24 tracks, and lastly or should I say more recently we are presented with the La La Land records re-issue which also contains 24 tracks.

ORIGINAL VARESE SARABANDE LP ART WORK.
ORIGINAL VARESE SARABANDE LP ART WORK.

The compact disc opens with the main title, at first this is a slightly subdued affair but soon steps up a gear and the composer utilizes strings and brass which are enhanced with percussion and the sound of shimmering tambourines that are ably supported by flyaway sounding woodwinds and carried forward by strident strings creating a proud and heroic EL CID like theme. This is fairly short lived but makes it mark and establishes the scores central theme and sets the scene for what is to follow. Track number 2, SIEGE OF THE CITY is another rousing and robust sounding cue, strings and brass once again join forces supported and punctuated by percussion and woodwind flourishes, Poledouris evoking a CONAN like ambience with horns embellishing proceedings throughout creating an almost fearsome atmosphere which is further established by the use of dark and somewhat sombre sounding strings with a subtle touch of organ being added to the mix. The score can be broken down into three central themes, but there are also present numerous sub-motifs and hints of themes that depict an atmosphere which evokes a mood that is gallant but at the same time has a rough and unforgiving rawness to it. We have the battle theme which is also the core theme from the soundtrack, proud and vibrant and containing a flowing richness to it, with bold brass and vociferous strings this is essentially the heart of the composers score. Variations of this theme can be heard throughout the score, Poledouris giving the initial theme a fresh and new lease of life on each outing via clever orchestration and differing arrangements.

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Then we have a duo of love themes, which are both equally beguiling ad beautifully haunting, these two themes are both written with the character of Princess Agnes in mind the first being for her and her future husband which although is a fairly lush and romantic piece seems to lack enthusiasm or real passion, it is a somewhat subdued and fragile sounding composition, which reflects perfectly the inner feelings of the Princess. The second theme d’ amour is a much more focused and fervent sounding composition which is employed in scenes that involve the Princess with the Rutger Hauer character Martin, a full working of this poignant and emotive theme is best heard in track number 14, MARTIN AND AGNES LOVE THEME. Lush and sincere sounding strings taking centre stage and accompanied by soaring woodwind and underlying subtle percussion to create a haunting composition which lingers in the listeners sub conscious long after it has concluded. Poledouris in my opinion was the master of melody and also a talented and highly gifted purveyor of themes, which he demonstrates wonderfully and abundantly in his epic score for FLESH AND BLOOD. Presented well by La La Land records, with introductory notes by Randall Larson, and also an interesting interview with Poledouris that took place in 1985, which was conducted by Larson and David Kraft.
The booklet is literally brimming with stills from the movie and also has photos of the composer. Certainly worth adding to your collection even if you have anyone of the previous editions.