Soundtrack review: The heroes of Telemark (Malcolm Arnold – 1966)
“The heroes of Telemark” is a historical drama about nine Norwegian saboteurs — Resistance Fighters who stopped the Nazis from gaining a vital ingredient for making the atomic bomb. Their lonely acts of courage succeeded where gliders full of crack British Commandos failed and a massive bombing raid by more than a hundred American Flying Fortresses could not knock out a fortress-like factory hidden in a distant Norwegian valley. This 1966 movie had a score by Malcolm Arnold which is released almost 60 years later by Intrada.
Malcolm Arnold’s musical effervescence is clear from the rich “Main title”. This theme is an orchestral bonanza, dramatic and intense, complete with male choirs chanting some sort of hymn in German. It’s an efficient introduction into the world of this score. That’s not the only purely army moment as we also get later in the score a German army marching band insert.
The military setting of the movie is very clear in the music. I’ve seen enough old war movies to recognize the urgency and seriousness of the music. There are also very cleverly composer moments when the music seems to be sneaking or tiptoeing, like the tense “Must get to England”. This is the kind of cue that keeps me alert and on the edge. It’s rewarding to hear a cue like this rich in music and not with a simple suspenseful motif.
It’s interesting that the love theme from the movie sounds very similar to the war themes. There are some subtle instrumentation that make me think of something tender but overall the tone of the score doesn’t change. I cannot complain about a score like “The heroes of Telemark” though because this is a feast for symphonic music lovers. No instrument is spared in any of the cues and in a year where most of film music was minimalistic, a release of a score from 50 years ago with so many musical layers is a welcomed gift.
There’s not a lot of emotion in “The heroes of Telemark”. This is a score to be appreciated because of its musical merits. I needed more to connect with it on a personal level and get invested in the music though. If you know Malcolm Arnold’s usual style and sound you will absolutely love this score. The British elegance and nobility in the music is obvious and there are some cues which could have worked well in one of the early James Bond movies.
Cue rating: 80 / 100
Total minutes of excellence: 0 / 37
Album excellence: 0%