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Volume 26, No. 6
June 2021
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The “Bondage” scene was supposed to begin with a lovely rendition of Blanche’s theme that plays for two thirds of the cue, calming fears when she turns over a tarot card representing Death. But when she flips another ominous card shortly after, with a horned figure on horseback pulling along two children in chains, we discover the inspiration for the cue title and the first appearance of the Black Prince theme on synth serpent. As Blanche struggles to find a less disturbing explanation for this card, Goldsmith tells us through the music that all is not well, and the cue ends shortly after she hurriedly gathers up her cards and puts them away.

The subsequent, “The Black Prince,” begins strikingly as the hooded villain turns suddenly to face Robert’s direction, just after a peal of thunder disturbs him. The remainder of the two-minute cue goes through a thorough development of his material, probably the most medieval-sounding element in the score thanks to its instrumentation as well as its melodic kinship with medieval chants. A particularly haunting, urgent rendition of the melody plays after the Prince has left the abbey, as Robert and Blanche rush down to the confessional together only to discover that the kind Abbot (who took them in for the night) has been murdered by the intruder. A unique appearance of the theme on hammered dulcimer sounds as Robert calls out for him, receiving no response, and the cue ends with a low string stinger as the body tumbles out of the confessional.

These two ominous cues are possibly the most significant and unfortunate musical omissions from the film, because they firmly establish the sound of the antagonist. Without them, the Black Prince’s striking theme only appears in bits and fragments (starting in the next cue, “Children in Bondage”), mixed with other elements without having been strongly established on its own. The entrances and exits of themes within a film score are as important as the entrances and exits of characters within a film—but for whatever reason, it must have been decided that this music was wrong for the movie, because in multiple later action cues it is also trimmed out, and its final intended appearance, “Final Fight,” is another cue that’s omitted entirely. Perhaps, similar to the synth horns in Goldsmith’s later score to Timeline, there was an opposition to the unusual instrumental timbre, more than the thematic material itself. Or perhaps it was thought that Byrne’s performance, easily the best part of the film aside from Goldsmith’s score, should be allowed to stand on its own. (In the opinion of this author, these two strongest elements of the movie work perfectly hand-in-hand.) Regardless, for whatever reason, these cues were excised, and Goldsmith fans can now judge whether or not the music would have aided this troubled film.

—FSMO

Don’t forget to check out this month’s cue-by-cue breakdown of Lionheartalong with the album review of the deluxe edition.

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