Tag Archives: Jerry Goldsmith

Mulan “Honor to Us All” (1998)

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Mulan was the 36th entry in Disney’s Animated Classics series. The film is based on the legend of Hua Mulan, a woman who lived during the Han Dynasty. For twelve years she practiced kung fu and fought in the army, becoming a well-respected soldier before retiring to her hometown. The score was composed and conducted by the legendary Jerry Goldsmith, while the songs were written by Matthew Wilder and David Zippel.

I remember seeing the trailers for Mulan in the theater, and this film certainly didn’t disappoint me once I saw it for myself. The animation is stunningly gorgeous, the colors are vibrant and the story is very well done. After nearly a decade of churning out great animated films, Disney was in peak form and it really shows here.

In Disney’s Mulan, the story starts at the Great Wall of China. While the guards patrol, invaders suddenly appear: it’s the Huns, led by the feared warrior leader Shan Yu! The Hun leader sees the Great Wall as a personal challenge from the Emperor and he’s more than happy to invade and prove that his army is superior. News of the Hun invasion is brought to the Imperial Palace, and the Emperor commands that all reserves be called up, as he puts it: “A single grain of rice can tip the scales; one man, may be the difference, between victory and defeat.”

At the same time, Mulan is practicing for some type of examination (she’s painting cheat notes on her forearm). Today is a very big day: this is the day Mulan is presented to the local matchmaker to determine what sort of husband she will have. Being a girl in ancient China, making a good marriage is the only way that Mulan can bring honor to her family. Well, for such a big day, it’s not getting off to a great start, because Mulan is LATE!!

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Racing into town on her horse Khan, Mulan is ushered into a series of rooms where she is bathed, dressed and painted to look like a beautiful, traditional Chinese lady from a good family. This is the setting of “Honor to Us All.” Each section of Mulan’s preparation constitutes a different verse of the song, and each verse sings of how obedient girls should be, how finding a great husband is everything, and being the best wife one can be brings great honor to the family and honor is EVERYTHING.

This is what you give me to work with?
Well, honey, I’ve seen worse
We’re gonna turn this sow’s ear
Into a silk purse

We’ll have you washed and dried
Primped and polished till you glow with pride
Trust my recipe for instant bride
You’ll bring honor to us all

Wait and see
When we’re through
Boys will gladly go to war for you
With good fortune
And a great hairdo
You’ll bring honor to us all

During this sequence, there are already hints that Mulan is not your average girl. For one, she has no qualms about riding a horse into town, hair all askew. For another, she appears to have a mind for strategy: in between rooms, she passes by two men playing a game called Go. After observing the board, she makes a move that apparently wins the game for one of the players (though neither of the men could see the move themselves).

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A girl can bring her family
Great honor in one way
By striking a good match
And this could be the day

Men want girls with good taste
Calm, Obedient, who work fast paced

With good breeding (and a tiny waist)

You’ll bring honor to us all

When we’re through, you can’t fail
Like a lotus blossom soft and pale
How could any fellow say “No sale”
You’ll bring honor to us all

Mulan looks distinctly uncomfortable while being dressed up, and deep down she is terrified of disappointing her family. Mulan is barely finished in time and must go racing after the other girls who are already en route to the matchmaker.

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Scarier than the undertaker
We are meeting our matchmaker

Destiny
Guard our girls
And our future as it fast unfurls
Please look kindly on these cultured pearls
Each a perfect porcelain doll

Please bring honor to us
Please bring honor to us
Please bring honor to us
Please bring honor to us
Please bring honor to us all!

In the nick of time, Mulan is able to join the other girls and comport herself so that she too looks like a perfectly behaved young lady. But while the other girls in line seem quite happy to be meeting the matchmaker, Mulan still isn’t quite sure about the whole affair, but it’s too late to back out now, because they’ve arrived at the matchmaker’s house.

Random thoughts and trivia!

  • I LOVE the reveal of who “Little Brother” really is. You absolutely expect a human, only to find that it’s….a dog!
  • Mulan’s singing voice is provided by Lea Salonga, who was also the singing voice of Princess Jasmine.
  • Mulan’s SPEAKING voice is provided by Ming-Na Wen, aka Melinda May in Agents of SHIELD
  • Grandmother Fa is voiced by June Foray, better known for voicing Granny and Witch Hazel in the Looney Tunes cartoons, among many other roles
  • Mulan is the final film in the Disney Renaissance to be presented in the format of a musical.

I hope you enjoy listening to “Honor to Us All”!

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For more great Disney songs and films, check out the main page here: Disney Films & Soundtracks A-Z

See also:

Mulan “Reflection” (1998)

Mulan “Mulan’s Decision” (1998)

Mulan “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” (1998)

Mulan “A Girl Worth Fighting For” (1998)

Mulan “The Huns Attack” (1998)

Mulan “I’ve Heard a Great Deal About You Fa Mulan…” (1998)

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*all images are the property of Walt Disney Studios

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Jerry Goldsmith talks Lionheart (1987)

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While I am generally familiar with all of Jerry Goldsmith’s work, Lionheart (1987) is a film that I admit I have never heard of, and for good reason it turns out. The film received an exceptionally limited release in theaters, a VHS copy was not issued until 1994 and a DVD version was not seen until 2009.

Lionheart is loosely based on the real-life story of the Children’s Crusade. In this film, a young knight named Robert Nerra, who is disillusioned by the death of his brother, leads a band of orphans en route to join King Richard in the Third Crusade, and must also protect them from the Black Prince (who’d like to enslave all the children and sell them to the Muslims).

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The limited release does not change the fact that Goldsmith’s work was of exceptional quality and the video follows the composer as he works on recording the score in Budapest. I’m pleased to share a rare video of Goldsmith at work with all of you (if only more of these videos existed, what treasures they are!) Have a great weekend!

See also:

Jerry Goldsmith talks The Sand Pebbles (1966)

Jerry Goldsmith talks Chinatown (1974)

Jerry Goldsmith talks about Alien (1979)

Film Composer Interviews A-H

Film Composer Interviews K-Z

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*all images and video are property of the film studio and the creator of the interview

Deja Vu: Comparing the Klingon theme in Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Star Trek: First Contact

Star Trek: The Motion Picture has had a bad reputation for years, and some of it is rightfully deserved. The pacing is way off (compared to the later films), the acting is…less than ideal at some points, and the mysterious V’Ger is so large as to border on the absurd (in the original version, the size was given as being larger than our own solar system (80 AUs, it was later dubbed over to 8, which is still very massive).

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But one component of the film that I will defend to the death is Jerry Goldsmith’s score. Goldsmith introduced musical themes that have remained with the series (at least in the prime universe) ever since. One such theme is the “Klingon theme” that is heard at the beginning of the film when three Klingon ships move in to attack the mysterious cloud passing through their territory. (The theme begins around 0:09 seconds, listen for the brass)

Star Trek: The Motion Picture “Klingon Battle”

This theme set the tone for the Klingons as they would now appear in the Star Trek film universe (this is also the first time we see “proper” Klingons with the distinctive ridges on their foreheads). Brass, horns and trumpets in particular, have long been associated with war and other martial endeavors (as that is where those instruments evolved) and by utilizing them, Goldsmith is reminding the listener that Klingons are a martial race, they always attack first, ask questions later.

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Fast forward almost twenty years to 1996 and the events of Star Trek: First Contact. The Federation’s ultimate nemesis, the Borg, are making another attempt to conquer and assimilate the human race, and all resources are being pulled together to stop this menace. In the midst of the battle, we come across the Defiant (the starship from Deep Space 9) commanded by everyone’s favorite Klingon, Worf (Michael Dorn joined Deep Space 9 after Next Generation went off the air). No sooner does Worf pop up, and the music heard is definitely the same Klingon theme played in The Motion Picture back in 1979 (considerably sped up, but the same theme regardless). The theme begins around 2:25.

Star Trek: First Contact “Klingon Theme”

I will always love how composers reuse musical themes from one film to the next (I also can’t believe it took me as many years as it did to catch this particular example).

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A Random Thought on “Star Trek: Nemesis” (2002)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

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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…

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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.

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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.

*Film poster is the property of Paramount and is only being used for illustration

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Jerry Goldsmith talks The Sand Pebbles (1966)

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Credit to Howard Terpning

Jerry Goldsmith talks The Sand Pebbles (1966) Part 1

Jerry Goldsmith talks The Sand Pebbles (1966) Part 2

Jerry Goldsmith talks The Sand Pebbles (1966) Part 3

Jerry Goldsmith talks The Sand Pebbles (1966) Part 4

Video interviews of Jerry Goldsmith (who died in 2004) are few and far between, so when I saw that he gave an interview in 1989 for The Sand Pebbles (released in 1966), I knew I had to share it with you.

The Sand Pebbles was directed by Robert Wise and stars Steve McQueen, Richard Attenborough and Richard Crenna, and tells the story of the (fictional) gunboat USS San Pablo as it patrols the rivers in 1920s China. The people refer to the boat as “The Sand Pebble” and its crew as “Sand Pebbles” (hence the name of the film).

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The plot follows Holman (McQueen), a machinist’s mate who joins the San Pablo. After an offscreen incident, tensions between the boat, the crew, and the Chinese grow tenser than ever. The boat is ordered to leave the river and return to the coast, but the commander disobeys in order to rescue two American missionaries, who will surely be killed by the Communists if they are not taken away.

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It’s been a long time since I saw this movie, but I remember the ending (I won’t tell you how it ends, you’ll have to see for yourself), had me very upset (but in a good way). Enjoy this interview from one of the masters of film music.

See also:

Jerry Goldsmith talks Chinatown (1974)

Jerry Goldsmith talks about Alien (1979)

Jerry Goldsmith talks Lionheart (1987)

Film Composer Interviews A-H

Film Composer Interviews K-Z

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Jerry Goldsmith talks Chinatown (1974)

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Chinatown is one of those post-Golden Age of Hollywood movies that perfectly emulates that lost era of filmmaking. Starring Jack Nicholson and directed by Roman Polanski, the film tells the story of private investigator J.J “Jake” Gittes (Nicholson) who is hired by a woman calling herself Evelyn Mulwray (Faye Dunaway), ostensibly because her husband Hollis is having an affair with another woman and she wants the evidence. But the story is fake and Jake finds himself entangled in a story that is more complex and tragic than anything he could have ever imagined.

 

The score for this neo-noir film was composed by legendary composer Jerry Goldsmith (1929-2004). Goldsmith composed AND recorded the film’s music in only ten days, after the producer rejected an earlier score from composer Philip Lambro at the last minute. The score was nominated for an Academy Award (though it didn’t win). The score is notable for containing several haunting trumpet solos performed by Uan Rasey, that perfectly encapsulate that era of old Hollywood.

Please enjoy Goldsmith’s thought on this amazing score and if you haven’t had a chance to see the movie, I encourage you to give it a try (but I feel obliged to warn you, the plot twist is rather shocking).

See also:

Jerry Goldsmith talks The Sand Pebbles (1966)

Jerry Goldsmith talks about Alien (1979)

Jerry Goldsmith talks Lionheart (1987)

Film Composer Interviews A-H

Film Composer Interviews K-Z

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Like Film Music Central on Facebook at www.facebook.com/filmmusiccentral

Jerry Goldsmith talks Alien (1979)

Jerry Goldsmith talks Alien (1979)

A look inside Goldsmith’s thought process when he created the score for the ever-terrifying Alien (for a sense of contrast, keep in mind that he composed Alien in the same year as Star Trek: The Motion Picture!!) In fact, if you listen closely, some say that you can hear some of the same minor themes in both films. Primarily listen to the music early in Alien when the camera is panning through the empty corridors of the Nostromo and compare to the music in the scene where Spock is stealing a thruster suit rather late in the film.

   *Alien credit to Bill Gold
See also:

Film Composer Interviews A-H

Film Composer Interviews K-Z

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂