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 Posted:   Jul 16, 2013 - 11:44 AM   
 By:   KEITH DURHAM   (Member)

Still no legitimate CD release for Raymond Leppard's magnificent score for the David Hemmings/ Michael York movie, ALFRED THE GREAT. The score did have a brief, limited release on the MGM label and certainly in the UK, became one of the most sought after (and expensive) LP's ever. A German bootleg did appear some years ago, but ommitted some of the best cues. Why one of the various labels hasn't picked this superb score up is a mystery. Leppard also scored LORD OF THE FLIES, but to the best of my knowledge, that was the sum total of his output.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 16, 2013 - 1:04 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

I've been waiting for this one too. The film is just as rare as the soundtrack LP, never having been issued on any U.S. video format.



 
 
 Posted:   Jul 16, 2013 - 1:58 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Leppard also scored LORD OF THE FLIES, but to the best of my knowledge, that was the sum total of his output.

Leppard also scored Tony Richardson's LAUGHTER IN THE DARK, which opened in England one month after ALFRED THE GREAT.

 
 Posted:   Jul 16, 2013 - 3:41 PM   
 By:   WILLIAMDMCCRUM   (Member)

I simply can't undertand the vilification this film gets from many quarters.

It's a flawed film for sure, but some of the contemporary criticisms don't hold up in retrospect. Sometimes a concept finds its true expression in a historical context, maybe after revisionism. At the time, critics all said in unison (if not 'follow the leader') that the dialogue was flawed, that the film didn't 'find the way they talked', a concern Howard Hawks had on 'Land of the Pharaohs'.

With hindsight, the dialogue is actually excellent, it's 'period' not to some long gone era of the Anglo-Saxons of Wessex, but of the 1960s, a kind of post-Beatles cheeky left-wing dialogue (the whole film is very left-wing, the Danes are the parasitic fascists, and Alf 'gets by with a little help from his friends', the bandits and common people).

It's very psychologically well made too, a hero-hubris story, Alfred only wins through and regains parts of his kingdom when he regains parts of the rejected aspects of himself. And it's religious in the best way too. Very authentic looking, with great battle choreography.

Leppard's score is sublime. The album and the b[censored]g contain most of the score, but a few good cues are missing, like King Buared's arrival at Mercia, and the battle manoeuvres.

 
 Posted:   Jul 16, 2013 - 3:53 PM   
 By:   WILLIAMDMCCRUM   (Member)

 
 Posted:   Jul 16, 2013 - 4:16 PM   
 By:   WILLIAMDMCCRUM   (Member)

The title music didn't make it to the LP.




I suspect it's a better film on paper than in execution. The symbolism in that opening scene is very straightforward: the minute the shepherd and his Bo-Peep get sexual in their bucolic idyll, the prow of the dragon-ship appears, a recurrent theme in the film as Alf later tries to become a priest and suppress his sexuality which then becomes a battle-lust.

Interesting to see our Thor's ancestors portrayed... though actually these are Danes, not Norwegians.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 16, 2013 - 5:32 PM   
 By:   Bill Finn   (Member)

I would love to see this score issued on a legitimate CD as well. It is one of my
"holy grails" so to speak.

I cannot stop without mentioning that, being from Indianapolis, I had many
opportunities to see Leppard conduct the local orchestra.

I even walked past him on my 'walk around the circle on my way to lunch'
just as he was apparently doing. I wanted to stop and greet him, but thought
better of it, and let him pass.

He was a fine conductor for that orchestra, especially when they began playing in the
old UA theater (on the Indy Circle) with it's warm and intimate dynamics. Leppard was
able to bring his love of Sibelius and Haydn to those of us in the audience.

I always thought it was a shame that he had to leave his native country for a job. But I'm
certain that he realized the love the city had for him. He is now retired, but also 'conductor
lauriate of the ISO.

Somebody, bring me ALFRED THE GREAT. How can it be that difficult?

 
 Posted:   Jan 24, 2015 - 8:16 AM   
 By:   Last Child   (Member)

well, where's the release? Intrada should be all over this.

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 24, 2015 - 8:31 AM   
 By:   Jim Doherty   (Member)

I also would love to see this on CD.

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 24, 2015 - 8:33 AM   
 By:   CinemaScope   (Member)

Oh yes please! I had the boot CD, but it got lost in a house move (along with a lot of other stuff). I can still remember coming out of the cinema thinking that in many ways it wasn't a very good film (awful dialogue), but I enjoyed it. I love Raymond Leppard's music, I think if MGM had smelled success, then they would have replaced Leppard's haunting score with a more "epic film" score. Raymond Leppard is a hero of mine, when I got into classical music in the early seventies, it was a lot of his recordings I bought (Handel, Rameau & Bach's sons) & I'm still listening to them after all this time.

It was recorded in England, I wonder if the tapes have survived?

 
 Posted:   Jan 24, 2015 - 9:22 AM   
 By:   Last Child   (Member)

just watched the movie last night, having played the promo cd quite abit - addictive soundtrack. Not a great movie, but wasnt bored which is a feat considering it's 2 hours long. A complete legit release would be stunning. Intrada released Sir Gawain which was probably less known.

 
 Posted:   Jan 24, 2015 - 9:59 AM   
 By:   WILLIAMDMCCRUM   (Member)

(awful dialogue), but I enjoyed it.


The dialogue's not so bad, because it's '60s post-Beatles, and aimed at a youth audience then. Alf's story is one of rites of passage, and becoming mature.

In the 1990s the whole fashion for dialogue in historical films changed, partly because of spoof shows like 'Xena' on TV. Unfortunately many new screenwriters in a desperate attempt to seem new and groundbreaking didn't really realise that stuff like 'Scorpion King' etc. WERE spoofs, and now all dialogue is such films is totally modern, like, y'know, innit', okay.

So it's a lot better as dialogue than today's crop of speeches. And Alf's CONTENT is great in the dialogue, in that it tells the young man how to become a proper 'king' by being humble and accepting all his bits.

A key line is Colin Blakely's as Asser the scribe, ... "Are you beginning to realise that these bandits, like the passions in your own soul, are dangerous only when their uses are denied?"

The MEANING gets through, without patronising the audience.

 
 Posted:   Jan 24, 2015 - 10:34 AM   
 By:   Last Child   (Member)

I enjoyed the psychological approach which included the effect of religion philosophically. The conversation between Alfred and Guthrum contrasting Odin and Jesus, blood versus love and wisdom, and Alfie finally conceding the argument since it's an unsettled matter in his own mind...but at the end, he cuts down the Danes flag instead of killing (and thus justifying) Guthrum's philosophy. Faith thru actions.

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 24, 2015 - 10:42 AM   
 By:   John B. Archibald   (Member)

Saw this film years ago, at a second-run movie theatre in Boston somewhere.

It seemed heavily influenced by not only the 60's "youth movement," but also by the success the year before of Franco Zefferelli's ROMEO AND JULIET.

Michael York played ALFRED's villain, after some success as Mercutio in the Zefferelli smash hit.

Likewise, Prunella Ransome got a chance at a lead role, after garnering some interest in the earlier FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD (1967).

And, of course, David Hemmings in the lead, after his breakout role in the hit BLOW-UP, though he was later more or less lost in the gargantuan Hollywood version of CAMELOT (1967).

Apparently, ALFRED THE GREAT was originally meant to be a roadshow, though this was quickly altered as soon as it became quite clear it was not as effective a film as any of the pictures listed above. Makes one wonder if there aren't recordings of Overture/Entr'acte/Exit music some place.

Although, frankly, it's a wonder anyone even remembers it, let alone has access to it. There are clips on YouTube. Naturally, in retrospect, it all seems more interesting, but, in its day, I remember it as rather plodding, and occasionally pretentious. I came away from it still wondering why this man was referred to as "the Great."

I did enjoy the music, and have the CD someplace, though I never listened to it much.

 
 Posted:   Jan 24, 2015 - 10:53 AM   
 By:   Last Child   (Member)

I couldnt help thinking about Hemmings in "Eye of the Devil" when the Danes are making their pagan sacrifices. Now that I think about it, the Mcfarland music has a "marching" quality near the end as Niven goes to his sacrifice, which is similar to one of the Alfred motifs [only in the "marching" sense].

 
 Posted:   Jan 24, 2015 - 11:39 AM   
 By:   WILLIAMDMCCRUM   (Member)



Naturally, in retrospect, it all seems more interesting, but, in its day, I remember it as rather plodding, and occasionally pretentious. I came away from it still wondering why this man was referred to as "the Great."



'Pretentious' is a term that, to me, implies that which pretends to be what it isn't. As said above, by Last Child, the religious element is well handled psychologically. The real Alfred did the impossible, uniting kingdoms that weren't easily connected, and suffered great hardships, including ill-health, to create a legal code, a court full of intellectuals who brought culture, a navy, and of course, containing the invading threat. He's one of the blokes who built England, a country that there's no guarantee would ever have evolved.

But the real thrust is that any adolescent seeing that film then, IF he were inclined to learn lessons from art (that's a big 'if') could glean that the inner world and the outer are connected, that repression only causes worse reactions, that forgiveness is effective in reconciling opposites, and that pride comes before a fall. That's not pretentious. The film is more than a history lesson (though the history isn't too far from the reality of Alf's early life), and valuable to those who identify with the struggles in it. It's also about teamwork against fascism.

If a film tries to be serious, it's 'pretentious', if it entertains it's 'trivial'. It's a wonder cinema survived.

 
 Posted:   Jan 24, 2015 - 11:42 AM   
 By:   WILLIAMDMCCRUM   (Member)

I couldnt help thinking about Hemmings in "Eye of the Devil" when the Danes are making their pagan sacrifices. Now that I think about it, the Mcfarland music has a "marching" quality near the end as Niven goes to his sacrifice, which is similar to one of the Alfred motifs [only in the "marching" sense].


For Alfred among Roger's bandits in Athelney marshes, read Luke Skywalker with Yoda. Strong mythic shape to the story.

 
 Posted:   Jan 24, 2015 - 12:37 PM   
 By:   Last Child   (Member)

For Alfred among Roger's bandits in Athelney marshes, read Luke Skywalker with Yoda. Strong mythic shape to the story.

I was reminded about Luke Skywalker in general - the blonde youth being tested by an oppressive situation far beyond his years, and soon without any family. He tells his brother how they'll lure the Danes the way they lured wolves when they were younger, reminding me of some comments Luke makes in Star Wars. But I didnt think about the later scene you mentioned - good call. Now that you mention it, Luke dressed in priestly black in Return of Jedi also suggests a comparison since Alfred was torn between priesthood and secular life.
The redheaded Dane warrior guy who was showing off his sword skills and then doing acrobatic flips reminded me of the Sith in the prequel (who I recall jumped around alot).

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 24, 2015 - 1:20 PM   
 By:   CinemaScope   (Member)

In David Hemmings' autobiography; Blow Up...& Other Exaggerations, a great & very funny read (but hard to find these days), he writes how he really upset the leading lady, Prunella Ransom by sticking his tongue in her mouth during a screen kiss. She didn't forgive him for ages.

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 24, 2015 - 1:46 PM   
 By:   John B. Archibald   (Member)

So, no one still answered whether this film was a roadshow, or not.

I seem to remember reading that it was originally meant to be.

I presume it was released in England, before its ill-fated exposure in the U.S. Did anyone here see it then? Was it a roadshow?

 
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