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Soundtrack review: Capricorn One (Jerry Goldsmith – 1977, 2015)

Another week, another reissue of an old score by a record label, another Jerry Goldsmith score. All these equals another chance for me to connect with his music. I have to admit that the more I hear the more intrigued and interested I am. I used to have a problem with his brand of action, so serious and metallic, so grave and cold. And yet when “Capricorn one” begins my mind immediately goes to “Total recall” and I discover a familiarity in the sound. That’s a nice place to start. The music goes darker then. The urgency morphs into danger and suspense and I feel myself gripped by this score. “Capricorn one” is a 1977 government conspiracy thriller about a Mars landing hoax. I was surprised to find out it was written and directed by Peter Hyams who I knew form movies like “Sudden death”, “Timecop” and “End of days”.

I am surprised to be so drawn to this score so early. It usually takes me a while to warm up to Jerry’s more abrasive way of doing thriller music but this time something clicks. I am sucked into that dark and dangerous atmosphere and I want to be part of it. The suspense is alive and palpable and this score gives me the kind of emotions and sensations I usually get from a movie. Only this time I don’t need the on screen images to make this enjoyable because I can make my own. The atmosphere set by the composer is thick and meaningful enough that I get the thrill and worries I would get from watching the thriller.

The music is smart and sneaky. It just pulls me in there and holds me tight. “Capricorn one” is like a dark and slippery snake slowly tightening its grip around me. If I would struggle to get out it would only hold me tighter so I might as well give in. I’ve listened to hundreds and hundreds of film scores and yet I can still be surprised by how a composer can weave such a thick and comfortable musical fabric to wrap me in. I just can’t get out from under the spell of this score. I know I am free to do it; I can just take my headphones off and leave the chair. But this is the trade of a legendary composer: with just his notes and arrangements written almost 40 years ago he can just grip me so tight and make me so curious about and invested in his score that a simple act such as removing ones headphones becomes the hardest thing to do.

Yes this is a dark and magnificently crafted score which will not leave your library. I don’t know how a treasure like this stayed hidden for so long.

Cue rating: 91 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 38 / 60

Album excellence: 64 %

Highlights:

Main Title

Abort 1

Abort 2

Capricorn Control

Docking

We Have Landed

The Message

Elliot Is Missing

The Desert

Bedtime Story

Hide And Seek

The Snake

The Station

The Celebration

End Title

Docking (Original)

Break Out (LP Imitation)

About the author

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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