This is another entry in my Complete Score Breakdown Series, focusing on the complete scores to films that have had abbreviated previous releases or have gone unreleased.
Today we are looking at Leviathan (1989) by Jerry Goldsmith.
Jerry Goldsmith’s score to the 1989 underwater horror/thriller Leviathan comes from one of the most interesting periods of his career, when he was transitioning between heavy electronics use and significant sound effect experimentation and his more traditional 90’s sound. Leviathan falls in somewhere between Warlock and Total Recall (with a few of the better Criminal Law sounds) in bold style and dominant synth components while still maintaining his unique signature. I always enjoyed Leviathan (going back to the days when I owned the audiocassette) for it’s very dark, very intense edge, horrific thriller elements, unique electronic soundscape, and pulsing rhythmic action cues. The optimistic and soaring opening and closing titles, featuring significant orchestral thematic material (with a few cues here and there within the CD reflecting this) make a nice bookend counterpart to bookend all the violent and rough shenanigans in the interim.
I very much look forward to the day that Varese Sarabande decides to expand their original 39min 40sec album, because upon viewing the film recently I discovered that there are over 21 minutes of unreleased music from the film. This brings the entire film score to just over 61 minutes, which would make for a nice expanded and remastered CD, and certainly film score fans would enjoy this one, particularly if similar clean-up work can be done as was done recently on the Warlock expansion.
The unreleased material does not expand upon the main title thematic material or the lighter moments, but mostly focuses on mystery, action, and horror, with further exploration of sound design, unique electronics and monstrous orchestral dexterity. Highlights include the music from the scene where Peter Weller and Richard Crenna’s character first view the footage from the sunken Russian ship, where mysterious woodwinds play with synths to create an unsettling atmosphere. More unease is found in the scene when Crenna explains the genetic alteration theory, Goldsmith continuing to push all the right buttons with his creative sounds and unusual compositions. The cue I call “Still Alive”, underscoring the scene where the crew members discover that bodies they thought were dead are in fact still moving, is terrifying in its orchestral fury, before settling into an interesting metallic percussive prepared piano sound that I found really cool. A lot of the cues in the film are short, less than a minute, so possibly for an an expanded CD some combined cues might be in order…?
A few quick notes, the cue “Discovery” is extended in the film from the CD track version, featuring an extra 30 seconds of score, and the CD track “The Body Within” is actually split into two scenes, each scene set at different points in the film. “The Body Within” is noted within the Complete Score Cue Titles and Cue Times Breakdown section as to how and where it’s divided. Finally, the CD track “Can We Fix It” has a different mix in the film, the opening heavy synth bass hits are removed in the film mix. The addition of the extra mix of this cue brings the total known complete score of the film to 64min 40sec.
CURRENT CD RELEASE RUNTIME: 39min 40sec COMPLETE FILM VERSION SCORE RUNTIME: 61min 10sec UNRELEASED SCORE RUNTIME: 21min 30sec
COMPLETE FILM VERSION SCORE RUNTIME (INCLUDING FILM MIX OF “CAN WE FIX IT”) + CD MIX OF “CAN WE FIX IT”: 64min 40sec
Complete Score Cue Titles and Cue Times (unreleased cues named by me for the sake of identification):
+ – previously unreleased (or includes previously unreleased material)
1. Underwater Camp (3:11) 2. Decompression (3:18) 3. Situation Under Control (1:45) 4. Doc’s History (1:08) + 5. Discovery (6:00) + – (extended from CD version featuring unreleased opening 30 seconds) 6. Deceased (0:32) + 7. Captain’s Log (1:58) + 8. Shared Vodka (0:33) + 9. One of Us 10. Deadly Hangover (1:20) + 11. Genetic Alteration (2:08) + 12. Lesions (0:34) + 13. Crew Exam (1:48) + 14. It’s Growing (3:12) 15. Hasty Funeral (1:21) + 16. Still Alive (1:37) + 17. Regeneration (1:24) + 18. The Flask (0:30) + 19. No Trust (0:41) + 20. The Body Within Pt. 1 (2:06) – (CD track split) 21. Searching for Williams (0:41) + 22. Power Saw Surgery (0:36) + 23. Setting a Trap (1:14) + 24. The Body Within Pt. 2 (2:30) – (CD track split) 25. Cobb Transforms (1:10) + 26. Doc Worsens (0:50) + 27. First Watch (1:08) + 28. Can We Fix It (3:33) – (film mix – synth bass hits at beginning of cue absent) 29. Too Hot (3:25) 30. Escape Bubbles (5:34) 31. A Lot Better (3:30)
Current CD Release Track Titles and Track Times:
1. Underwater Camp (3:26) 2. Decompression (3:19) 3. Discovery (5:24) 4. One of Us (1:41) 5. The Body Within (4:33) 6. Escape Bubbles (5:37) 7. Can We Fix It (3:25) 8. Situation Under Control (1:49) 9. It’s Growing (3:10) 10. Too Hot (3:27) 11. A Lot Better (3:31)
Also a fan of this one. I have an uncanny memory of driving home from my high school graduation a few years back with "A Lot Better" playing very loudly in the car on a bright, warm, sunny day. It was a very memorable moment for me and perfectly underscored that short transitionary phase of life for me. It has the same bouncy, strident energy of THE SWARM's end title, and that classically-rich interlude for strings is simply far too high-brow for the accompanying film!
In short, it'd make a perfect ceremonial piece for the concert hall!
At least the movie gave us cool Stan Winston creature effects as well!
The movie is a stinker and the one, I believe, where after he finished it Goldsmith told his agent, "Enough of this crap," or something to that affect.
But, I add this to my collection of bottle caps if it's expanded, and I've never bothered getting the original CD release, so most certainly I'd add it.
But as with Intrada's DEEP RISING, which I hope also handles an expanded LEVIATHAN, the movie is a stinker, even if it does have Richard Crenna in it. Love the Crenna, but he was in a lot of stinkers -- I actually went to GHOST SHIP back in 1980! Glad Goldsmith didn't score that.
I'm happy to stand up in defence of this movie. The quality of seasoned character actors on display is worth the price of admission. Weller. Crenna. Hudson. What's not to love? Okay, maybe not Amanda Pays, but she's nice to look at. It moves quickly, it's stylish and the score is wildly inventive with strong motives. Love it.
Given that it was recorded in Italy, it's possible that the full recording is lost, though if so, it would be the most recent Goldsmith score confirmed to meet that sad fate. (I think that Link currently holds that sad distinction; quite a shame that the complete score doesn't apparently survive in good quality.)
The other possibility is indeed that Varese still controls the title (they started getting perpetuity rights as a rule some time during 1989, the year this was released), and they'll get around to it when they get around to it, but considering how many 90s titles they control maybe they consider this a lower priority than Air Force One or Dante scores.
The other possibility is indeed that Varese still controls the title (they started getting perpetuity rights as a rule some time during 1989, the year this was released
I'm not so sure about Varese's "perpetuity rights" anymore, especially since someone who should know told me that on PLANET OF THE APES, Varese only holds rights on the previously unreleased cues they put out in 1997, not on the ones that Intrada had done before or the original Project 3 soundtrack before that.
Who knows? But if true, Varese probably only has rights to what they originally released. It may be that the reasons for a score not yet being expanded is all a matter of getting and paying for the rights to the rest of the score.
So where is this score parked under Varese or Intrada label? Its an MGM film so Unless Varese has perpetuity rights to it it could be nicely done with Intrada.
From Jeremy Moniz on FB, in the new Varese Club thread: "From what I understand, Varèse no longer controls LEVIATHAN... it’s in other hands now"
I wrote back, "Where'd you get the info re: Varese no longer controlling Leviathan? Is it pretty reliable? Varese started getting perpetuity rights at some point in 1989 and Leviathan was 1989 so it's right on the cusp. I would've thought one of the other labels wouldn't released it complete by now if so (unless tapes went missing)..."
And Jeremy replied, "Yes, That info came from Varèse directly. They recently made a post celebrating water based films and I made a comment that they forgot to include LEVIATHAN. Their reply stated LEVIATHAN was in other hands now."
Amer Zahid speculated elsewhere that maybe Quartet is working on this one. I think that's a good guess, because they've surprised us with unexpected Goldsmith releases time and time again (and over half of their Goldsmith releases were of scores originally on Varese: Total Recall, Basic Instinct, and Studs Lonigan). But what makes me most suspect Quartet is the fact that this was recorded in Rome. We know Varese doesn't control the rights, and this was an MGM film (one of the most open studios to film music labels), so I'm betting that the complete score tapes being located in Italy (where they were recorded) is why this hasn't come out from LLL or Intrada...Quartet is based in Spain, though, which is a lot closer to Italy (as is the language).
I can’t tell if I love the movie for being a trashy version of Alien or hate it for being a trashy version of Alien. But Goldsmith’s score is ACES. It’s really memorable for such a dopey film; I’d buy an expanded edition in a heart beat.