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Film Music Review (Volumes 1-7)






Editor's Choice -
Best of the Month for July


THE BRIDGE AT REMAGEN (1969) -- Elmer Bernstein

THE TRAIN (1964) -- Maurice Jarre

32 Tracks (Total Playing Time = 71:08)
(THE BRIDGE AT REMAGEN: tracks 1-15 = 29:24/ THE TRAIN: tracks 16-28 =33:40 & bonus tracks 29-32 = 7:42)

Album Produced by Lukas Kendall. Digital Mastering by Doug Schwartz. CD Art Direction: by Joe Sikoryak. Liner notes by Lukas Kendall.

THE BRIDGE AT REMAGEN -- Music composed and conducted by Elmer Bernstein. Orchestrations by Leo Shuken and Jack Hayes.

THE TRAIN -- Music composed and conducted by Maurice Jarre.

Film Score Monthly Vol. 10, No. 8

Rating: ****


This FSM label continues to produce outstanding soundtracks from the past.

Beleive it or not, this is the 157th release in their continuing series of soundtracks by some of the greatest film composers of the past half century.

For the latest release there are soundtracks by Elmer Bernstein and Maurice Jarre for World War II action dramas.

First up is THE BRIDGE AT REMAGEN, which opens with one of Elmer Bernstein's boldest rhythmic themes and which propels the listener into this score with a ferocious kick ass sound.

Yet after that bold and brassy opening Main Title (track 1, 2:37), the score has many tracks where, unlike many of today's action scores, the music is much quieter and in the background. One example is track 5 ("Meckenheim", 3:06) which Lukas Kendall writes "features light suspense," and has music that continues to keep the scene moving along. It is a fine example of sensitive underscoring, of which Elmer Bernstein was a master.

Even with the quieter moments there are still those trademark Bernstein rhythmic cues. For example, track 7 ("Defenses," 3:00). You might expect a cue like "Remagen" (track 8, 1:05) to feature that bold Main Title theme, but instead Bernstein uses another rhythmically driven theme. But the Main Title naturally does reappear, but not always so apparent. One cue that does make ther Main Title theme very apparent is track 13 ("Hartman", 1:43).

At just under 30 minutes running time, this still remains one of the best non-western Elmer Bernstein scores in the late 1960s. Remember, THE BRIDGE AT REMAGEN was finished just before Bernstein's great score for TRUE GRIT.

The other score included on this CD is Maurice Jarre's THE TRAIN, which has a different kind of Main Title theme (track 16, 2:20). It features a swirling sound to imitate the wheels of the huge train that will be the most prominent feature in this film, and also a more patriotic theme to represent the French resistance fighters, especially Labiche (played by Burt Lancaster). The main theme can be heard again in slightly altered version in the next track, "The Train" (2:17).

The function of Jarre's score is similar to Bernstein's REMAGEN score -- to underscore the action not overwhelm it. Yet unlike Bernstein, Jarre uses a somewhat lighter touch in keeping with the sometimes humorous characters in the French resistance, such as Papa Boule (played by Michel Simon). His theme appears in track 18 (2:45) which Lukas Kendall explains in his notes: "plays in a folk-like Parisian setting...the second half of this track features the orchestra coming to life with percussive 'train' music alongside quintessential Jarre flourishes as Boule proudly operates his vehicle."

In addition to THE TRAIN being slighter longer than Bernstein's score, there are also four bonus tracks of nearly eight minutes. As with most of these extra unused tracks, they are of interest primarily to the specialists and fanboys. Listening to Jarre's score, it may not be as satisfying and is more repetitious, but it does suit the film's characters and actions quite well.

The overall sound on this CD is slightly better on BRIDGE AT REMAGEN than THE TRAIN, which is a bit more shrill in the higher registers of the instruments.

The art direction by Joe Sikoryak is very appealing and doesn't interfere with the readability of the text. Lukas Kendall's liner notes are succinct and well done.

All in all, yet another excellent release from the Film Score Monthly team.

They deserve all the praise they have been getting for their work.

This is a highly recommended release of music two masters from the 1960s, Bernstein and Jarre, and should appeal also to fans of World War II action films.


--Roger Hall, 31 July 2007


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