Sci-Fi Storm

Lifeforce Expanded Soundtrack mini-review

by on Dec.11, 2006, under Audio

What happens when studio execs take the running time axe to a movie? Well, it rarely ends well. And when you’ve got a top-notch composer’s score that is similarly devastated by the cuts? Well, I think this is a first. BuySoundtrax Records has released a limited edition (3000 units) expanded soundtrack for the movie Lifeforce. Read More for a brief review.

It’s been a long time since I saw the movie, so I can’t make too many comments, but I remember it being choppy and nonsensical in places – which is owed to the studio execs, who always think they can make a better movie by cutting it (the myth of 120 minutes needs to be dispelled), and invariably make the movie worse. Lifeforce was one of those victims. But have you ever thought about what happens to the musical score?

Henry Mancini was brought in to do the score for the movie, and produced quite a bit of material, including an elaborate sequence for the opening of the movie. But when those scenes get cut up and re-edited, the music gets cut to match – and no longer matches the original intent.

When Henry Mancini was unavailable to rework the score to match the new movie, producers opted to bring in Michael Kamen, who stitched together what was left with his own additions.

Well, it what has to be a first: 21 years after the original film’s release, a new expanded soundtrack CD is being released – containing not only the original soundtrack release, but the complete original score of Henry Mancini, and the additional music written by Michael Kamen, and a bonus track of the film version of “Grandson of Web” recorded along with a choir.

The result is a rousing symphony from Mancini that outdoes the resulting movie that it was written for. Effective brass and string segments make for a moving anthem that certainly deserved a better fate. Kamen did will to salvage what was left after the hatchet job, but the original was far more inspiring.

The 1998 DVD release of Lifeforce restored 15 minutes cut from the U.S. film and contains the full Mancini score. I have not seen this version yet to know if it fixes the shortcomings of the version I’ve seen. It will have to go on the “pick it up in the bargain bin” list to see if Mancini’s original fits well to a better edit of the movie.

Note of warning: The inside back case insert, and the liner notes, contain a few nude images, if that may be an issue for you.

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