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  • Stefan Riedlinger

Jerry Goldsmith - Explorers - Soundtrack Review

This week finally my favorite Jerry Goldsmith score, the first soundtrack CD I ever bought, the second Jerry Goldsmith soundtrack I ever bought and the score because of Jerry Goldsmith became my favorite composer. Pretty important score for me…

The movie

“Explorers” (1985) is a science fiction family film written by Eric Luke and directed by Joe Dante. The film stars Ethan Hawke and River Phoenix in their film debuts - Jason Presson plays the third teenage schoolboy - who build a spacecraft to explore outer space. The production runs into a lot of trouble, therefore, Dante did not have enough time to finish the movie: “The studio changed hands in the middle of production, and they decided they needed the movie much quicker than we thought," said the director in an interview. Dante submitted a rough cut, but Paramount wanted to take advantage of the busy summer market: “They said "just stop editing the picture, we're gonna put it out, and we got a perfect date for it and we know it'll make a lot of money…", but the movie became a disaster.

I found a clip on YouTube with Joe Dante talking about the movie. Here is part one of it:

When I saw the movie, and I just watched it because Joe Dante was the director of “Gremlins” and Goldsmith composed the music for it, I thought: “What kind of crap is that!” I think “Explorers” is one of the worst movies I ever saw! Dante is also not very happy with it and pointed out that it is not the movie he wanted to do. It still gained a kind of cult, perhaps because it is so bad in the space scenes, and especially because of Jerry Goldsmith and his successful collaboration with the director.

The music

“Explorers” was one of the movies I recorded on tape and filtered the music out, a bunch of work! Therefore, I was one of the happiest people on earth when I discovered there is a soundtrack album to buy.

“Explorers” really needs another soundtrack release; I will concentrate on the Varese album that just had nine score tracks. Intrada released a CD with the whole album, but both releases are not available anymore. The Varese album starts with “The Construction”, a highly energetic and fun piece that is a great example of Goldsmith’s ability to combine electronics and the traditional sound of the orchestra. Imagine this track is now over 30 years old, and it sounds still so fresh and enjoyable! Goldsmith brings this piece to a beautiful end with a slow pause before the piece finally concludes. This is still one of my most favorite tracks, I love it so much, especially the bouncing piano at the beginning!

Here is the music to “The Construction”, sorry for the bad quality:

The score is Goldsmith at his best, very entertaining and full of great themes, or funny funky arrangements such an in “She Likes Me” for the alien child. Joe Dante asked Jerry to compose the music in the Americano style; you can find this composing style in Goldsmith’s “Poltergeist” (the first track) but also in the neighborhood theme for “The Burbs” as a musical narration of the typical American neighborhood-life.

With track 3 “No Air” we have the space motif, more synthesizers, composed in a typical style for Goldsmith in the 80s, with a high focus on the brass section that was also typical for Goldsmith’s music that time.

Track 5 “First Flight” is another masterpiece of this score. It is interesting to compare the different “First Flight” tracks Goldsmith composed in his career. Think about the masterpiece “First Flight” in his score to “Night Crossing”, a picture nobody remembers today but that has one of Goldsmith’s best scores or the “First Flight” track in “The Blue Max”.

Track 6 “Free Ride” reminds me sometimes of Goldsmith’s score to “Secret Of Nimh”, also some Micky Mousing here. Track 7 “Fast Getaway” is an action-track, similar to the action tracks for Joe Dante’s “Innerspace” from 1987.

Track 9 “Have A Nice Trip” is the last track of the score, an eight minute masterpiece that brings the soundtrack to an amazing end. Goldsmith uses the full force of the orchestra and combines it with the electronics in a perfect way. We hear again the beautiful main theme before we go over to the electronics, and finally, in the last two minutes, the orchestra takes again over with the main theme.

“Explorers” is film music at his best: a wonderful score with a great main theme, enjoyable even without seeing the movie, still fresh in its composing style, and a great example of a musical genius. Truly amazing movie music! We want this score again in a great release, please!

Here is a suite to the score that begins again with “The Construction”:

I found on YouTube a piano version of the main theme played by Mike Farrell, interesting to listen to, too

Copyright © Stefan Riedlinger, 2016, all rights reserved. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Stefan Riedlinger.

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