Tag Archives: Planet of the Apes

Adventures in Babysitting

Now obviously I’m fully aware that whilst I’m out at work Sarah isn’t sat at home with Isabelle watching Jeremy Kyle or Homes Under the Hammer, far from it I know. But I still don’t think I really fully appreciated how compromised she is by having Isabelle around, I did however find out when I turned ‘Mr Mom’ for the day whilst Sarah and her mum ventured into London to watch Billy Elliot, more on that later.

Sarah’s home alone (I don’t mean she has to foil the wet bandits on a continuous daily basis) much of the week but this was pretty much my first proper experience of it on my lonesome and although I thought I knew what to expect it was something of an eye opener.

In times of old when you had a day off the time was pretty much your own but all that is changed, I even found surfing and emailing on a netbook compromised, typing one handed and taking several hours to write or research something that would have normally taken a couple of minutes.

er, shouldn't you be at work Dad?

The thing that struck me the most was that although I had the whole flat to myself I was pretty much quarantined to the living room which acted as base camp with visits to the kitchen to get another bottle of milk from the fridge and heat Isabelle’s bottle, all whilst juggling Isabelle in my arms.

The only other room ventured into was Isabelle’s room to get her nappy changed after feeding, so pretty much 50% of my day was spent feeding, burping and changing and the rest entertaining and stimulating through play and of course those all essential cuddles.

I can certainly see why some people go a little stir crazy with the routine, especially if it is day in and day out and don’t get any help or change from the routine by visiting family, local baby groups or just getting out of those four walls.

I think the thing that concerned me, and I know this is really stupid, was what on earth to I do if I need the loo? Do I have to take Isabelle in there and sit her with me? She’s rolling right over now so it’s not as if I can leave her in her nest on the sofa! Of course the rational me didn’t think about her little rocking chair.

Back to Billy Elliot for a moment. Ironically my worry for Sarah and her mum was far greater than my loo worries as they were heading up to London by coach extremely near to the rioting taking place in Parliament Square and it did seem to flare up every so often and made you wonder when and where it was going to end and what was going to happen next, especially with fires being started and police horses sent charging in, which along with police lines being broken down the very street Billy Elliot was playing made the live helicopter shots look like something out of the miner’s strike meets Planet of the Apes.

I had this vision of the coach somehow being caught up in events and it being rocked, battered and ending up like that bus at the end of that late70s Clint Eastwood film, The Gauntlet, so I stayed tuned in so I could report on anything untoward kicking off. Turns out the coach was fine but as a footnote Charles and Camilla’s car was attacked on the way to the Royal Variety Performance, so a senseless attack wasn’t totally out of the question.

Later on in the day Sarah’s dad joined me at the flat for a spot of food which gave me that breather from the living room, playing that role I normally play when I come in from work I guess, and it was amazing what a difference one extra pairs of eyes can make, now meaning that it was far easier to wash pots, feed the dog and generally do little chores that you pretty much take for granted.

When I went back to work a part of me was jealous of Sarah and all that time she gets to spend with Isabelle and seeing those first smiles, those gurgles and those little nuances that at the moment can change pretty much everyday, and part of me still is as I loved just spending time pretty much was watching Isabelle and making her smile. All that kind of cancels out the little tantrums, the interesting coloured nappies, the being awake when she should really, really be asleep.

Of course, Sarah gets out and gets to do loads with Isabelle but I think it’s those days when you are invariably stuck inside, just the two of you, that the cabin fever can easily set in. I for one have oodles more respect, not that I didn’t have an enormous sack of it before, for Sarah and indeed all mum and dad kind who do the same thing day in and day out.

Next time I get back in from a long day at ‘the office’ and am handed Isabelle as soon as I get in, which is great by the way, I can now appreciate why my coming home isn’t just a welcome sight to Isabelle, swinging, rocking and smiling away, but also one to Sarah.

I’ll be back for more flying solo exploits at home of course and Isabelle is ever changing which will no doubt bring new challenges, the next thing to crack is me hitting town with my daughter, now that really will be a challenge. I know where all the baby changing facilities are so I’m already formulating my epic route.

And did I enter the obligatory This Morning competition to win enough money to clear the mortgage? Of course I did, it’s the done thing!

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Batons Beyond the Stars

In space no one can hear you scream, that’s because there is no sound. But when you think of your favourite science-fiction films and what makes them so special it’s rather ironic then that one of the things that stays with you forever is the music.

Sure, there’ll be other factors: favourite scenes or memorable dialogue, but the music is the life and soul of the movie. They say that you can’t make a great movie without a great script but equally the right piece of music can elevate a good movie, or scene, to greatness.

I spoke to movie soundtrack enthusiast, Mike Copping, a member of the John Barry Appreciation Society from its inception, who was first bitten by the movie soundtrack bug, aged ten, viewing the sci-fi tinged Bond-movie You Only Live Twice in 1967, scored by Barry, about what he considers the five greatest sci-fi movie scores of all time.

The following list is chronological and takes in several notable mentions along the way so lets (tap, tap, tap) strike up the orchestra for the greatest movie sci-fi soundtracks of all time.

Saying that purists will ‘wrap him in the mouth’ for not saying King Kong (1933), which saw composer Max Steiner arguably define the modern film score, Mike plumbs for fellow German composer, Franz Waxman.

He said: “Waxman holds equal claim to laying down the template to what we recognise as the modern film score as he was working at pretty much the same time on a wide range of films, so I’m going to have to say The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) as my first entry.”

“I see the score for the James Whale directed movie as a far more accomplished piece that works better with the film, is melodic and for me is the first really truly memorable, influential science fiction/ horror score that I would hold in that esteem, over and above Kong.”

There is no question for Mike in his second choice, Bernard Herrmann’s score for The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951).

Hermann is mostly associated with his collaboration with Hitchcock and his fantasy scores for Jason and the Argonauts, and The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad.

Copping said: “A lot of people might pick Louis and Bebe Barron’s Forbidden Planet but if you listen to that away from the film, ‘Planet’ sounds like beeps and electronics noises, whereas ‘Still’ is a properly orchestrated score in the traditional sense, but what makes it groundbreaking is the melodic way it uses the Theremin, an electronic instrument, as an evocative, other worldly voice, which was the first time it had been used that way.”

Mike continued: “It’s a hugely influential score that is heavily imitated, fantastically constructed and is just wonderful, unlike the entirely forgettable remake, which doesn’t hold a candle to or honour the original in any way.”

Sticking with ‘Earth’ for his third choice is Jerry Goldsmith’s landmark score for Planet of the Apes (1968), which Mike lists as being groundbreaking.

He said: “Again it is a hugely influential score that has been copied ever since (elements cropping up in his later score for Alien) and features some wonderful experimentation and is outstanding as it works dramatically, sounds alien and other worldly and to this day people think he used electronics, but it was all done acoustically, and still sounds fresh 41 years later.”

Goldsmith was Oscar-nominated for his outstanding work but bagged his only golden statue for the creepy chorals of The Omen (1976), which Copping, along with many people see as a huge injustice and a failing of the Academy.

As an honourable mention Mike also suggests Goldsmith’s Alien (1979). He says: “It works so well in the film and contributes to that terrible unease that you get whilst you are watching it, which is just disturbing, although not as disturbing as Director Ridley Scott’s treatment of it, something he would do to Goldsmith several year’s later on the fantasy movie, Legend, which also deserves a mention.”

The US print of Legend saw Goldsmith’s score excised completely and featured totally new music by Tangerine Dream, whilst the longer European cut retained the superior Goldsmith score.

Fittingly, the fourth is with Mike on his penultimate choice. He said: “Star Wars arrived in 1977, roughly a decade after ‘Apes’ and during that period pop songs had wormed their way into films and become a marketing tool.”

“So when Star Wars came along it blew (rather like an operational deathstar) everyone away, it did more than underscore the film, it reastablished the traditional symphonic score, something virtually unheard of at the time, as a viable entity that could sell very well in its own right if it was the right film and Star Wars just happened to encompass all that.”

“It’s a beautifully orchestrated and complex score that is thematically structured; it’s just wonderful stuff and heralded the return of the composer as artist. For Williams, it was a triumph.”

The composer honed his craft on Irwin Allen sci-fi TV epics laying the groundwork for his development. Mike enthused: “If you listen to his TV scores for ‘Lost in Space’, ‘Land of the Giants’ or ‘Time Tunnel’ you can hear hints of the shape of things to come. He had a great training ground in writing the most outlandish things, so Star Wars was just so fitting, cementing his position, one that he hasn’t lost since.”

From 77 to 82 Williams had such a prolific period, encompassing Star Wars, Close Encounters, Superman, The Fury, Raiders, Empire and E.T. Encounters is something that Mike prefers listening to rather than Star Wars. He said: “It almost surpasses Star Wars. The idea that aliens were communicating via music, which is a pretty universal thing from an emotional level, I thought was just great. Williams took that idea and ran with that five note theme.”

Mike’s final choice takes us to the final frontier which sees us back with Jerry Goldsmith and Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979).

He asserts: “This is one of the finest scores written for film, let alone for science-fiction. The early sequence where the Klingon ships are taken out by the approaching alien entity is fantastic scoring.”

“That kind of instrumentation and barbaric quality in the music instantly conveys Klingon culture and at the same time drives the sequence adding immeasurably, just what Goldsmith did best. The main theme is also one of the best ever, being so successful that Trek creator Roddenberry used it as the title music for The Next Generation.”

Goldsmith revisited the Trek movie franchise several times, but for Mike he never bettered that original score, which he said: “Is beautifully constructed, melodically driven, incredibly evocative and helps save the rather leaden pacing in the second part of the film.”

If there was one moment that stands out where vision and music work perfectly with one another, it would be the scene where Scotty first shows off the Enterprise to Kirk, and the audience, from a shuttle craft.

Mike concludes: “The cue, just called The Enterprise, sustains its entire length and is just a superb example of what Goldsmith did with his music, he’s sorely missed.”

Have your orchestral soundtrack hunting manoeuvres left you in the dark?

Unlikely to find much beyond ‘songs inspired by the movie’ albums in the high street try the following for limited editions and new releases.

Intrada

Film Score Monthly

Varese Sarabande

eBay is also worth a look, but be warned as there are plenty of bootleg copies out there as well as bargains so be sure to read the description.