CD: Bounty, The (1984)

May 4, 2011 | By

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Rating: Very Good

Label: BSX Records/ Released: November, 2010

Tracks & Album Length: 20 tracks / (67:33)

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Special Notes: Re-recorded themes from The Bounty and other films (Bitter Moon, Francesco, The Plague) produced & performed by Dominik Hauser / 12-page colour booklet with liner notes by Randall D. Larson / Limited to 2000 copies.

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Composer: Vangelis

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Review:

What seemed jarring to critics in 1984 is far less so today, making The Bounty a pioneering electronic score designed for a film set in a wholly different era. In prior scores such as Chariots of Fire (1981), Vangelis helped break the barrier of what sounds and specific writing styles composers could apply to period films, and while the drama of the famous mutiny takes place in the 18th century, the use of eighties synth gear, percussion, and traditional fiddle music still worked, and enabled other directors such as Ridley Scott to take things further in his own waterborne setting, 1492: Conquest of Paradise, which Vangelis also scored in 1992.

On CD, Vangelis’ opening and closing cues from Bounty had appeared on the compilation CD Vangelis: Themes (1989), and the original score tracks were subsequently released on the infamous One World 2-CD bootleg edition in 2000. That album included everything – traditional and electronic score cues, plus alternate material including a 21 min. closing suite. It was a great package, but it was hampered by weak sound sources and some heavy repetition.

BSX’s release offers a fair compromise: main score and source cues re-recorded into a compact album lacking the sometimes heavy monotony that affected the rather bloated bootleg set. Dominik Hauser’s re-recordings are faithful, and while the current gear doesn’t completely match the vintage sounds of Vangelis’s behemoth machines, purists should appreciate the carful details Hauser reproduces, not to mention some nice keyboard work in the end credit music and single version edit.

The film’s main theme is a laid out in a simple 4-note arrangement during the main titles, and are thrust forward at a measured pace by an ominous bass pulse, and like Blade Runner (1982), Vangelis lays in peripheral percussion, plus the theme’s B-part, a set of triplets which he uses to either sustain tension, or create a full musical thought by ending the theme with a somewhat restive group of notes.

Vangelis’ second theme (“Bounty Leaving England”) is much more genial, and offers everything lacking the title music: warm chords, and a gentle, loosely paced melody. Symbolizing wholesomeness, purity, and civility, it’s the antithesis to the dominant main theme, and the two compositions offer contrast between the dueling personalities, while the fiddle music captures the ship’s lowest of the low – the poor sailors trapped on the ship who become ensnarled in worsening disputes and Captain Bligh’s cruelties. Katie Campbell’s solo work is energetic, and it’s the lone musical bridge to the film’s 18th century setting.

The CD’s producers have also added a few bonus tracks of scores still lacking commercial releases, including a medley from 1992’s Bitter Moon (main and end title music), Francesco (1989), and The Plague / La Peste (1992) – each of which is ripe for a similar re-recording.

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© 2011 Mark R. Hasan

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External References:

IMDB Soundtrack AlbumComposer Filmography — Film Review

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Category: Soundtrack Reviews

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