Having the music of Jerry Goldsmith on the brain (yesterday being his birthday), I couldn’t help but think about one of his final film scores: Star Trek: Nemesis (2002). Billed from the outset as the final adventure of the Star Trek: The Next Generation cast (most of whom had been in their roles since 1987), there was a heightened sense of excitement as the release date for this film approached. Everyone wanted to see what would happen, how would the series end, etc. And then the film came out…
I was only 14 when I saw Nemesis for the first time, and I remember loving it just as much as Insurrection. But as I grew older, I began to read that Star Trek: Nemesis had been rather poorly received, that it was even considered the worst of the films (a strong statement given that Star Trek V: The Final Frontier usually receives that dubious distinction). But what hurt me the most was the criticisms I heard about Jerry Goldsmith’s score for Nemesis. People were saying that this film was “not his best effort” and that the themes were “overly simplistic.”
With all due respect, anyone who says these things about a work of Jerry Goldsmith does not understand how the man worked. By 2002, Goldsmith had been working in Hollywood for over fifty years, his skills honed into a finely tuned art. He knew, more than anyone else I suspect, what kind of music Star Trek: Nemesis needed. Since this film marked the end of an era (the reboot not being planned yet), Goldsmith created a score that was intentionally somber. Of course the music ends on a hopeful note, but the tone is meant to be sad; the long-running adventure is finally ending, companions are parting ways, all of this should evoke a sense of impending loss.
And as for the themes being overly simplistic…listen to the soundtrack album, or even part of the album, without dialogue or sound effects, and try to tell me that the music is “simplistic.” (I particularly recommend “Ideals” from the soundtrack).
Maybe I’m just biased because I grew up watching Star Trek: The Next Generation…but I hear nothing wrong in the scores Goldsmith created. Just some random thoughts.
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I never understood the hate that both the film and the score to STNemesis received, myself. I own every JG Star Trek score and even when the last 2 scores he did took a different and more melancholic route, than say, First Contact, I highly respect his work on the latter TNG films. Ever since TMP (even though Horner rocked TWoK and TSfS), I wished he had scored all of them! Great observations in this post. Well done. Couldn’t have said it any better myself!
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Thank you so much! Yea, I never understood the hate either, though now that some time has passed, I think Nemesis is starting to get re-evaluated (which is good). I have all of Goldsmith’s Next Generation work, but I still need TMP and Final Frontier. I know what you mean about wishing he’d scored all of them, I heard he was offered The Undiscovered Country but he turned it down.
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TUD is a decent score but Jerry’s flair for political thematic motifs would have suited that story so well! My least favorite ST score is to Voyage Home and Generations second (even though that score has its moments).
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Yea, the big drawback to Generations is the entire set up feels like an extended episode of the tv series (and the music didn’t help). I don’t watch Voyage Home very often (it’s my least favorite) but I remember the music wasn’t terribly memorable. Undiscovered country has a beautiful theme for Spock that’s eerily similar to the one Horner created for II and III
Nemesis the movie and story itself is rather wanting in some areas. I’m a bit ambivalent about the score. It seems like a step up from the somewhat pedestrian (for JG, anyway) score for Insurrection, but not very much seems to stand out in it, except for four or five somewhat interesting themes. I haven’t watched it enough, and I didn’t feel the need to go after its soundtrack……..
I’m probably a little biased because I love so much of Goldsmith’s work, I can agree with the story not being the best, but it has its moments 😊
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