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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Action > Soundtrack > Beneath The Planet Of The Apes (Limited CD)

Beneath The Planet Of The Apes (Limited Edition CD)


Sound: B     Music: A-



What is it about Beneath the Planet of the Apes, the 1970 sequel to the original Apes that people do not get?  At the time I grew up, my young grade school friends were smart enough to get the point, but the film tends to go over the heads of current audiences.  Of course, the ultra-horrid remake of the film by Tim Burton in 2001 does not help matters, but it is that a film that was smart then seems impossible for pandered-to audiences to figure out now.


The recent DVD of the film simply recycled the 12” LaserDisc transfer, offering poorer sound and compromised picture in the process, though Fox is supposedly doing a High Definition upgrade.  When they do, I hope they are using the same source materials used for this outstanding, expanded new CD soundtrack version of the film from soundtrack label of Film Score Monthly magazine.  The 32-tracks offer two versions of the music by Leonard Rosenman.


The first 19 tracks are the original music masters used in the film, released here for the first time ever anywhere!  Tracks 22 – 32 are the sometimes amusing, but usually lame, vinyl record release version of the tracks where Rosenman was made to remake his better music in an ill-advised Rock mode.  This rendered them sounding more like bad Jerry Goldsmith work (who did the original Apes score), if not outright bad and dated.  In between are two valuable tracks, the sound effects for the Mutant’s mind control on track 20 (“Mind Control SFX”), leaving track 21 with a snippet of music (0:55) when “Nova Dies” that was just too damaged to include in the body of the original tracks.  All the tracks from 20 onward are like extended bonus material, though only 20 & 21 are dubbed that.  Those vinyl versions would rate a C for music quality.


The vinyl tracks do offer dialogue from the film, but it does not sound as clear as it does on the DVD or LD editions.  It feels like a novelty, versus the smarter way the likes of Rykodisc inserts dialogue on their M-G-M soundtrack releases, which respects the work.  Those are always the original tracks, after all.  Those tracks on the supposed THX certified copies were only listed as “stereo”, but decoded nicely in Dolby Pro Logic.


Rosenman, like Goldsmith, did two of the five Apes scores.  Later, he scored the final feature film, Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973).  That was the poorest film, a case of one to many.  However, his music was not too bad for that one, and is especially interesting here.  He moves away from Goldsmith’s more primal, sharply punctuated music for a score that has a sense of dread and loss through its layered arrangements.  Under-doing it has many advantages, especially for a sequel, which way far more rare then.  The idea of such follow-ups was usually the domain of the continuing storyline of TV or network radio drama, not big-budget, original feature films.  How times change.


This strategy pays off, for by the time we reach the last climactic moments of the film, Rosenman offers psychotic religious music, electronic telepathy music, sudden dramatic swellings of chords, and a masterful control and execution of large orchestration overall.  He works on the audience for most of the film by making the music effective and invisible, and then matches the narrative’s surprises with some of his own.  Nothing vital is erroneously telegraphed to the audience, but it sure is a great way to avoid sequelitis.  Before you realize it, you are so immersed into the new story that there is no turning back.  That is a real coup for what might be the composer’s greatest work.  It is also something few composers today are savvy and talented enough to put down on paper and music masters.


The booklet, as with all the FSM releases, boast an informative look at the film and the behind the scenes of the music for it.  Once again, there are some nice illustrations for a film that has had a history of poor stills and prints in recent years.


The sound quality of the music is pretty good for its age, though the damaged Nova track is obviously a problem.  The pretentious vinyl re-recording makes for a sometimes-bizarre comparison to the original tracks, but they do not have the sonic quality of the original, fortunately.  Many of those tracks decode well in Dolby Pro Logic.  I wish the electronic sounds did, but they still are the most unexpected, awesome bonus on the entire CD.  The CD is limited to only 3,000 copies, so you might want to order one at www.filmscoremonthly.com before Fox gets around to issuing Blu-ray editions of all the original Apes films that cause this great CD to sell out.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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