Tag Archives: Jerry Goldsmith

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)

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, andĀ 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)

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.=

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The Sand Pebbles was directed by Robert Wise andĀ 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 talksĀ ChinatownĀ (1974)

Jerry Goldsmith talks aboutĀ AlienĀ (1979)

Jerry Goldsmith talksĀ LionheartĀ (1987)

Film Composer Interviews A-H

Film Composer Interviews K-Z

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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.

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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 talksĀ The Sand PebblesĀ (1966)

Jerry Goldsmith talks aboutĀ AlienĀ (1979)

Jerry Goldsmith talksĀ LionheartĀ (1987)

Film Composer Interviews A-H

Film Composer Interviews K-Z

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Check out theĀ YouTube channelĀ (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

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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 AlienĀ when the camera is panning through the empty corridors of theĀ NostromoĀ and compare to the music in the scene where Spock is stealing a thruster suit rather late in the film.

Ā  Ā *Alien credit to Bill Gold
See also:

Film Composer Interviews A-H

Film Composer Interviews K-Z

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“Main Theme” from Star Trek First Contact by Jerry Goldsmith

This haunting theme is the main title from Star Trek: First Contact. This 1996 film is a continuation of a story begun in “The Best of Both Worlds Parts One and Two”, the third season finale and season four opener to Star Trek: The Next Generation.Ā In those episodes, Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) was kidnapped by the Borg and forcibly turned into a cyborg himself.

Now, six years later, the Borg have returned and Picard must confront his greatest enemy once and for all. I always found this theme to be incredibly beautiful. In fact, composer Jerry Goldsmith originally wrote this theme for the earlier film Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. In that earlier film, this theme represented “friendship,” namely the friendship that existed between Kirk, Spock and McCoy, who would literally do anything to help each other. To hear the theme in that movie, watch the opening scene when Kirk is climbing El Capitan, and you can hear a brief echo of the theme, which returns later in the campfire scene.

I hope you enjoy it.

Above is a simplified arrangement of the opening measures of the First Contact theme
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Star Trek Insurrection:”Ba’Ku Village” (1998)

“Ba’Ku Village” is aĀ beautiful piece from the opening of Star Trek: InsurrectionĀ (1998)Ā by the late Jerry Goldsmith. Composed only two years after First Contact, Goldsmtih did a complete 180 degree turn in the feel of this score, opting for music that was more lyrical and Romantic in style (though still possessing plenty of action cues in the appropriate moments). This piece plays during the opening credits of the film (notably the last Star TrekĀ film to feature credits at the beginning of the film) while the camera pans around the idyllic village of the Ba’Ku people.

As the primary melody ends, the music turns sinister, as it is revealed that the village is being secretly observed by Starfleet and their allies, the So’Nah (who have a secret connection to the Ba’Ku).

Feel free to share thoughts in the comments as well. If you like the music, check out the video below to see the opening credits of the movie (they built the set near Mammoth Lakes in California).

See also:Ā Film Soundtracks A-W

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