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Born Free (1966)
Music by John Barry
Born Free Born Free
Click to enlarge images.
Price: $25.95
Limited #: N/A
View CD Page at SAE Store
Line: Silver Age
CD Release: July 2004
Catalog #: Vol. 7, No. 10
# of Discs: 1

Released by Special Arrangement with Turner Classic Movies Music

Born Free (1966) was a hugely successful wildlife film about Elsa, an orphaned lion cub in Africa who is nursed to adulthood by a husband-and-wife team of nature enthusiasts (Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers). Based on the true-life account by Joy Adamson (whose husband George was a game warden), the film was the rare family adventure that was adored by audiences and critics alike, and has maintained a sterling reputation over the years.

Key to the film's success is its famous score by John Barry. Barry was red-hot from his work on James Bond films and Zulu (1964), and Born Free would cement his reputation as one of the most vibrant composers of the 1960s—if not of all time. Barry's main theme—given lyrics by Don Black and sung by Matt Munro—became a pop sensation and one of the world's most recognizable movie songs, a veritable cultural landmark.

The song "Born Free" has been so successful that it has overshadowed the rest of the score, which is a thoroughly satisfying, romantic and dramatic work. Barry maintains the predominant tone of Disneyesque charm but ranges from dark, suspenseful passages (for the hunting of a man-eating lion) to buoyant setpieces for Elsa's development, and a heartbreaking finale as Elsa is returned to the wild. The sound is symphonic, but with ethnic African touches (in Barry's inimitable style); the score is a far more serious and diverse work than most people realize.

Barry was rushed in his film recording of Born Free and at his insistence performed it again for album release (on MGM Records). This premiere CD release presents the 39:55 LP program, remastered from 1/4" stereo tapes. New, authoritative liner notes by Jon Burlingame tell the heretofore unknown story of the film's development and production, and feature new interview material with Barry and Black.

John Barry Scores on FSM
About the Composer

John Barry (1933-2011) is a five-time Oscar winner and one of the most successful and beloved composers ever to write for the movies. His career encompasses everything from the James Bond films to Hollywood epics like Out of Africa and Dances With Wolves. His style is marked foremost by melody but also by a thoughtful economy of gesture that has always added a great sense of style and scope to his projects.FSM has released on CD as many of his scores as possible, from intimate dramas like Petulia to the classic Born Free, the 1976 King Kong and the obscure 1968 gem Deadfall. IMDB

Comments (10):Log in or register to post your own comments
I saw the movie "Born Free" back in late 1966, when it first came out, and also read the book on which it was based, as well. Both the movie "Born Free" and the book on which it was based were excellent.

I saw the movie "Born Free" back in late 1966, when it first came out, and also read the book on which it was based, as well. Both the movie "Born Free" and the book on which it was based were excellent.[/endquote]

I've not read the book but seen the film a number of times (though not on the big screen) ... it was one I bought on DVD many years ago for my children (I think my daughter enjoyed it as much, if not more ... ) and having long disposed of it ...

... I bought the BluRay release a few weeks ago. I admit this is to obtain John Barry's superb soundtrack (the FSM release is that of the album recording of the score) but I shall, no doubt, enjoy the film once again :)

Welcome to the board!
Mitch

Iconic theme. My FSM is still sealed in its wrapper, in which state it has remained for . . . well, it's been several years now. I can't bear the thought of opening it.

I think of The Belstone Fox as the companion piece to Born Free. Both films were directed by James Hill, who also appears not to have taken any chances with his ideas on TBF, because he also wrote the screenplay, in which he kept the storyline ideas free of complication. For me, personally, this is a classic 70s film, cut from the same cloth as Born Free. I also have the Laurie Johnson score for it, produced by Dragon's Domain.

I sometimes wonder how Laurie Johnson approached his composition task when he had John Barry's very tough cookie to live up to, not to mention the same director to try and please. I think he did a pretty good job.

I like THE BELSTONE FOX score much more than the Barry. We played the film in Toronto back in 1973...it didn't draw flies but I went crazy over the score and got a complimentary LP from Rank. I wish the original music tracks could have been used for the Dragon's Den release, rather than an LP dub...

I think, shureman, TBF LP was not a rerecording. It looks as though all the music on the LP is original score from the film, although, I don't know how much music from the film is not on the album/CD.

Yes, the LP was actually the recording used in the film. My point was the quality of the DD CD which, to me, obviously came from an LP dub rather than the master tapes...

Yes, the LP was actually the recording used in the film. My point was the quality of the DD CD which, to me, obviously came from an LP dub rather than the master tapes...[/endquote]

There was that controversy when Ford first began being bombarded with an answer to that very question when the DD release was imminent. I realised that would be as good as it would get so bought it anyway. For your information, I did find someone had uploaded a good presentation of the film to YouTube, where it can be seen in its original ratio from the Todd - AO 35 print. Not that I approve of such things, however, if you've never seen it I suppose now is as good a time as any.

Just type in "The Belstone Fox" and select the version with length 1:43:16. The film's framing and cinematography is a winner.

What I remember most about this much appreciated CD from FSM is how and where I played it.

It was during a time that I was doing a lot of local and international travel. John Barry’s score somehow ticked the boxes of being at times joyful, sorrowful, and action orientated—several moods.

The other Barry score I was playing a lot at that time was The Quiller Memorandum.

Funny how I link both, in particular Born Free, with locations and work rather than the images from the film! Do you have a similar experience with Born Free or another score?

Chris

Funny how I link both, in particular Born Free, with locations and work rather than the images from the film! Do you have a similar experience with Born Free or another score?[/endquote]

Hi Chris! For me it's Barry's Moviola Vol.1, Playing by Heart, and Raise the Titanic (re-recording) – all of which I associate strongly with my travels to and through the west coast of North America and my time in Los Angeles in the mid to late 90s. They still conjure the Napa and San Fernando valleys whenever I hear them. A time of great personal and professional adventure by plane, train and automobile.

Barry's (unrivalled, I think) facility for sumptuous melancholy lures me always. With Born Free, Monte Walsh, and other fairly obscure movies (to this Canadian), I only ever had the soundtrack to go by. Doesn't seem to matter as much with Barry's work, since much like John Williams, his album assemblies work so well and make it a cinch for the listener to enter their sonic world.

Oh, and then there's Thomas Newman's excellent and atypical The Good German, which I always associate with Lane Cove, Sydney, Melbourne, and lamingtons!

Hi Saul! Thanks so much for sharing your detailed thoughts. This is the sort of post I love reading. It was wonderful to finally see you on the FSM Zoom meetup as well.

I completely agree with you about the John Barry melancholy. There’s something special about how he reaches towards that feeling and I’ve wondered what he drew on himself to get there.

What is fascinating about his music is how it seems to inadvertently “line up” with imagery in my real world. I seem to recall an interview where Barry himself noted this happened for him (with other music) driving around New York. Barry’s music seems to do it more than other composers for me. Maybe I listen to his music more than others! But maybe it’s the way he conveys a sort of inner monologue of mood.

I remember a strange coincidence listening to my pre-iPod music device during my time living in the UK. My National Rail train was pulling into Waterloo station and I then needed to switch to my local tube train. It was during rush hour, so it was all quite bustling with people. The “Street Chase” from Thunderball just started with the entry of the OO7 theme being perfectly timed to the doors opening on one train. The bulk of the cue played with me, like James Bond, walking through the masses of people across platforms and to and from escalators. I made it to my tube train, the doors closed perfectly in time with the brass stinger at the end. Phew.

Stay safe and go well!

Chris

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