Tag Archives: Basil Poledouris

The Hunt for Red October “Hymn to Red October” (1990)

My favorite iteration of author Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan character has always been Alec Baldwin’s portrayal in The Hunt for Red October (1990), in which the CIA analyst finds himself thrust into an escalating situation when a decorated Soviet submarine captain (Sean Connery) takes off with the Soviet Union’s newest submarine.

The Hunt for Red October Opening Credits (1990)

Besides the great performances from Baldwin and Connery, this has always been my favorite Tom Clancy film because of the score, composed by Basil Poledouris (1945-2006). His piece, “Hymn to Red October” is one of my favorite film pieces to listen to. The piece comes at the beginning of the film, just after an on-screen narration (in summary: what you are about to see, according to the government, never officially happened) sets the scene. It begins as the Red October submarine is heading out to see and Captain Ramius (Connery) agrees with his first officer (Sam Neill) that it is “Time indeed (for their plan to begin).”

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The hymn is orchestral with a male Russian chorus that begins very softly, matching Ramius’ thoughts (“Cold and hard.”) As the chorus grows louder, the orchestra swells up with it, as we see a gorgeous shot of the submarine that morphs into the film’s title before the opening credits roll (it seems weird now but it used to be common for films to open with the title and main credits). As the lyrics reveal, the singers are bidding the Motherland (Russia) farewell and answering the call of the sea. With the power of Red October, nothing can stand in their way.

I find the first few lines of the hymn to be most interesting as they directly reflect a plot point in the film. The line: “Light that has left me/How could I know that you would die?” seems to reflect the untimely death of Ramius’ wife, the event which helped to spur on his defection to the West. The rest of the hymn is styled as typical Soviet propaganda (note the line about “Our Motherland’s victorious march”) that extols the greatness of the Soviet Union.

Cold, hard, empty.
Light that has left me,
How could I know that you would die?
Farewell again, our dear land.
So hard for us to imagine that it’s real, and not a dream.
Motherland, native home,
Farewell, our Motherland.
Let’s go; the sea is waiting for us.
The vastness of the sea is calling to us, and the tides!
Hail to our fathers and forefathers.
We are faithful to the covenant made with the past.
Now nothing can stop
Our Motherland’s victorious march.
Sail on fearlessly,
Pride of the Northern Seas.
Hope of the Revolution, you are the burst of faith of the people.
In October, in October,
We report our victories to you, our Revolution.
And to the heritage left by you for us

What do you think of “Hymn to Red October”? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Film Soundtracks A-W

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