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-   -   OT Battle of Britain DVD score - seriously! (http://duc.avid.com/showthread.php?t=110329)

K.B. 07-08-2004 05:15 AM

OT Battle of Britain DVD score - seriously!
I don't believe it!

A while back I started a thread about favorite soundtracks. Someone wrote / and I replied:


<font color="darkblue">John Williams - Empire Strikes Back (Battle on Hoth is possibly the greatest piece of orchestral music I've ever heard.)

<font color="darkblue">Well, if you like that you'd also like two of my favorites -
Naval Battle by Miklos Rozsa from the Ben Hur soundtrack
Battle of the Air by Sir William walton from the Battle of Britain soundtrack

(Can I get more obscure?)

And a curious story about the Battle of Britain soundtrack. walton was commissioned to score the film, which he did. But when he went to the premiere found that Battle of the Air was the only thing left in - Ron Goodwin (who'd done 633 Squadron) had been asked to replace the rest. I don't see how walton could have been totally in the dark about it, but that's the story I heard. I'd love to hear the score as walton wrote it, as Battle of the Air is brilliant. A very classy composition.

To me this William Walton soundtrack to the film has achieved a certain mythic status. Did it ever really exist even? Would the original 1969 recording still be intact? I would so love to heard it.

But now it's been ressurected, remixed in 5.1, and put on a new DVD release of the film! I'm stunned. I can't wait.

We now get a chance, on a major feature, to hear how two different composers have scored a film.

Amazon link here

OK, since this forum works real magic - next I want to hear John Crook's score for the original 1918 J.M.Barrie stage production of Peter Pan, complete with Golden Slumbers as later featured on the Beatles' Abbey Road.

And what about Ridley Scott's Legend with the original Tangerine dream score?

Dan Pinder 07-08-2004 02:06 PM

Re: OT Battle of Britain DVD score - seriously!

John Williams - Empire Strikes Back (Battle on Hoth is possibly the greatest piece of orchestral music I've ever heard.)

I have to completely agree. It is SO much different than either its predecessor or successor. However, I'm partial to Disc 2 tracks 8 & 9 on the Complete Score CD that came out a few years ago. Brilliant and dissonant; simply a work of art.

I will check out the other two suggestions.

K.B. 07-19-2004 05:12 AM

Re: OT Battle of Britain DVD score - seriously!
I Just got these responses from Aaryk Noctivagus (noctivagus@ntlworld.com), a composer but not a PT user, in another forum

I read with interest Karel Bata’s piece about the scoring of ‘The Battle of
Britain’, recently given an excellent release on DVD. I remember having read
somewhere that Sir William Walton's score to 'The Battle of Britain' was so
short because he was somewhat frail at the time of composing it.

Walton was 67 years old at that time and had not composed for the cinema for
13 years (Richard III). Indeed Walton asked his friend Malcolm Arnold
(another accomplished composer) to conduct the score for him, and it turned
out that Arnold also found himself orchestrating and even helping out with
actual composing. The resultant score took a long time to be composed and was
brief (around 20 minutes long, I think). Indeed the impression I get is that
it was unfinished.

It is not really surprising that Ron Goodwin was brought in to compose a more
complete score for the movie since Walton’s score, albeit wonderfully
composed, is simply not complete enough to cover such a movie so reliant upon
its music. This is the reason, Producer, Harry Saltzman rejected the score in
the face of the wishes of the Director, Guy Hamilton. William Walton never
composed for a movie again, and was furious that his score had been replaced.
Both Ron Goodwin and Lawrence Olivier demanded that at least some of the
original score remained in the movie, and thus, Walton’s work was given pride
of place in the climactic ‘Battle in the Air’.

It was actually a journalist who informed Walton that his score was not being
used. The composer who famously arrived at a premier and then suffered the
cruel embarrassment that his score wasn’t used was Alex North, and the movie
was Stanley Kubrick’s ‘2001’.

It is an all too common situation in the movie business that a composer slogs
over a score, which the film-makers show contempt for in one way or another.
Ridley Scott drowning out Jerry Goldsmith’s fantastic score for ‘Alien’ by
burying it under the sound effects and replacing the now acclaimed end title
cue with a ridiculously out-of-place piece of classical music. James Cameron
and James Horner similarly fell out during the scoring of ‘Aliens’ - but made
up afterwards. The most famous replaced score is Bernard Herrmann’s for
Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Torn Curtain’ - but Herrmann was being rebellious and
courted the trouble. The most recent example is Jerry Goldsmith’s score to
‘Time Line’ - he composed the score, and then patiently re-composed after the
Director unlocked his edit to quicken the pace of the movie. However, when
the Director tinkered with the movie and asked for a third re-composing,
Goldsmith understandably walked. I, myself, have composed for a movie and
been replaced whilst I was still composing cues and thus wasting my time -
and I was working on the feature length for free. It hurt.

I appreciate that, just as sometimes actors are miscast, composers are too.
These things happen. However, I hope that those movie-makers who may read
this, might think to give a little understanding and courtesy towards the
person they need to replace, whether a composer, an actor, a writer, an
editor... whoever.


Sir William Walton's score to the 'Battle of Britain' is 20'49" long based on the durations of his tracks on the soundtrack delux edition released last year. (The CD contains both complete scores). I haven't yet watched how they were edited into the movie on the recent excellent DVD release but I plan to... Presently I've only watched the movie through as originally released and with the Commentary track on the DVD - next I'll be watching with the Walton score track.

Whilst I just about prefer the Ron Goodwin score as more appropriate for 'The Battle of Britain' and think the film-makers made the right choice in the end (though I certainly think they should have been more considerate to Sir William Walton in how they went about replacing him), I prefer Walton's score as far as technical merit is concerned. Indeed, apart from its shortness and the Main Title music, there is not much between the suitability of Ron Goodwin's and Sir William Waton's scores - though they are both very different.

Ron Goodwin was a great composer for war films ('633 Squadron') and comedies ('Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines', 'The Early Bird'), but he became stretched technically when he was called on for other types of movie. His score wasn't at all very good for Hitchcock's 'Frenzy'.

The only thing I don't like about William Walton's score for 'The Battle of Britain' musically is his 'Main Title' music - which sounds very TVish to these modern ears and reminds me of the theme to 'Jack the Ripper' (the Michael Caine TV version). Its a good theme, but it doesn't sit well on the main titles (I watched the main titles with his music on the DVD). It sounds a little weak to me, whereas Ron Goodwin's Main Title music sounds rich - but this is only my opinion... I prefer the rest of the William Walton score and his scherzo (Gay Berlin) is so Shostakovich-esque its a joy) In a 'Cad Fly' sense.

Alex North's score to '2001' has been recently made available on CD by Varese Sarabande conducted by Jerry Goldsmith and performed by the National Philharmonic Orchestra - here's the link... http://www.varesesarabande.com/detai...pid=VSD%2D5400

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