Musical Score By: Vangelis
Distributed by: BuySoundtrax
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
The story of the mutiny that took place aboard the British Royal Navy ship the HMS Bounty on April 28, 1789 has been covered in numerous formats. There have scores of books, movies and songs about the infamous incident. The 1984 film, The Bounty, was based upon the book Captain Bligh and Mr. Christian by Richard Hough. The film featured the all-star cast of Anthony Hopkins, Mel Gibson, Liam Neeson, Daniel Day-Lewis and Laurence Olivier. The film went on to receive mixed reviews.
The Bounty’s musical score was originally slated to be composed by Maurice Jarre, a frequent collaborator with the original director of the film, David Lean. However, numerous unfortunate issues with the project caused David Lean to leave the project. The project of creating a musical composition for The Bounty went to an unlikely candidate, Greek composer Vangelis.
A self-taught musician, Vangelis reportedly began composing music at the tender age of four. By the early 1960s, Vangelis helped to fount he popular Greek pop band The Forminx. When that band disbanded in 1966, he went on to found a progressive rock band known as Aphrodite’s Child. The band split in 1971 and Vangelis began a solo career in 1973. He dabbled in creating musical scores for documentaries, but it was his score for Chariots of Fire that won him Oscar recognition in 1981. Instead of sticking to period music from the movie’s time period, Vangelis decided to create a synthetic sound design that somehow perfectly enhanced the entire movie experience.
Vangelis had found success in electronic film scoring with Chariots of Fire, but could the same be achieved for the period film known as The Bounty. Vangelis was certainly going to try, liberally using synthesizers throughout much of the musical score. In order to perfectly underscore the visual and emotional content of the film, Vangelis created the movie’s score by playing freely while watching the film’s footage. Everything was created on his keyboards and nothing was written on paper, as was his usual style when creating music.
The soundtrack of The Bounty was previously unavailable, but on November 23, 2010, BuySoundtrax released a limited edition CD featuring not only the musical score created by Vangelis, but traditional Irish, Scottish and British folk shanties of the time. Also featured are bonus tracks from three other unreleased Vangelis scores.
Listening to this soundtrack, one is immediately transported back to the days when the power who ruled the seas ruled the world. Knowing that this movie is set in 1789, it is somewhat surprising when you hear synthesized music interspersed within the soundtrack. And yet, as with Chariots of Fire, this liberal use of electronic music somehow enhances the experience.
While I enjoyed the beauty of Vangelis’ work, I perhaps was more interested in the added ethnic shanties. The amazing violin work required for Bonny Kate and Drowsy Maggie was perfectly supplied by Elizabeth Hedman. The sound reminded me of the days of pirates and sea-loving sailors. The haunting tones of Katie Campbell on tracks like She Moved Through the Fair and Theme from La Peste (The Plague) sent shivers up my spine.
I find it surprising that this music has never before been released to the public. The Bounty Soundtrack is a beautiful musical creation that should have been released long ago. Fans of this film will love getting their hands on the limited edition CD which features a booklet with liner notes from Randall Larson that provide an in-depth look at the film, its score and the featured performers.