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Dragonslayer

 

 

Dragonslayer (1981)

Composer(s):
Alex North 

Released in:
1981

Reviews
A loud, brash, thematically redundant noise
by
Shawn Watson (September 27, 2010)
Let me start off by saying that I love the movie of Dragonslayer and I believe it to be one of the finest examples of fantasy in cinema and the best the of the early 80s (a period with lots of fantasy to offer). Fans have been dying to get their hands on the score for many, many years, and now, thanks to the good folks at La La Land Records, we finally have it.

And how awful it is. Many film scores can stand on their own two feet but Alex North's noise to Dragonslayer just cannot survive outside of the context of the film. It's a fish out of water that hasn't got a chance. Director Matthew Robbins probably didn't reject it since Alex North was a renown composer and he didn't want to offend him but it really should have been thrown out. All he does is compose to what is happening on screen with no underlying motifs or repeating melodies. It's the most basic, lazy, and inappropriate method of scoring a film you'll ever encounter. It's shocking that this got an Academy Award nomination in 1982 along with Raiders of the Lost Ark, a score it has no business being ranked alongside.

Fantasy films are a breeding ground for amazing sounds no matter what decade. James Horner's Willow, Trevor Jones' Dark Crystal and Merlin, Basil Poledouris' Conan...all of these can and will stand the test of time forever. But not Dragonslayer. It's just a pain on the ears and utterly unlistenable. It's neither scary, magical, enchanting or exciting. And for a film that had all four of those particular adjectives in its favor for the score to fail so badly on all levels it takes tremendous incompetence.

Was North a great composer? No doubt. But his approach to Dragonslayer was a massive failure.

Fans of the film will argue in its favor. But I am a fan, and I cannot stand it. But I am a sucker for Limited Editions.

Alex North at his finest
by
Kim (September 22, 2006)
"Dragonslayer" is a must have in any true soundtrack collector's collection. From the time the movie was released in 1981 until last year (2005) - I searched record stores and junk shops hoping to find this on a long-forgotten LP or dirtied-up cassette. Little did I know that "Dragonslayer" was a limited release only on LP and cd! I am fortunate enough to have accquired it at last and am here to urge all who have the ability to obtain it to do so!

The score is stunning, sweeping; alternating between dark and powerful and light and playful. It dominates the movie from the very first minutes; creating the medieval backdrop of Dragonslayer and underscoring the main characters.

My particular favorite is track 20 "The Resurrection of Ulrich". Indeed a high point in the movie, the stunning return from the dead of the master sorceror is beautifully complimented here by Alex's magnificent use of horns in full orchestral glory. It is interesting how North can take seemingly a handful of completed disjointed themes and yet come up with such a magnificent work.

While enjoying Dragonslayer, I strongly recommend complimenting it with Alex North's rejected score to 2001- A space Odessey. This is widely available on Varese and it is interesting to note the strong similarities between the two. It has been suggested that Dragonslayer is nothing more than a re-working of this rejected score, but I argue strongly that while it does retain some themes; Dragonslayer is an original work. I often hear a few minor notes here and there that recall North's epic Cleopatra as well- also a magnificent work in its own right.

Dragonslayer is an absolute must- have score in any collection. It is rare however, and will be a challenge to accquire. The DVD is widely available (Walmart sells it for $5.50) if you are looking to preview the score for yourself. The end credits are not to be missed!




Reviews on other sites:
Bigbeaks Blog 
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Jeffrey Graebner



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KQEK.com (La-La Land release) 
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filmmusicjournal.com (Lalaland/in German) 




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