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Soundtrack review: The omen (limited edition LP) (Jerry Goldsmith – 1976)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: The omen (limited edition LP) (Jerry Goldsmith – 1976)



In THE OMEN, American diplomat Robert (Gregory Peck) adopts Damien (Harvey Stephens) when his wife, Katherine (Lee Remick), delivers a stillborn child. After Damien’s first nanny hangs herself, Father Brennan (Patrick Troughton) warns Robert that Damien will kill Katherine’s unborn child. Shortly thereafter, Brennan dies and Katherine miscarries when Damien pushes her off a balcony. As more people around Damien die, Robert investigates Damien’s background and realizes his adopted son may be the Antichrist.

Who doesn’t remember this movie or the iconic theme by Jerry Goldsmith? He won an Academy Award for this score and it’s now getting rereleased on vinyl. “Ave satani”, the cue that opens the score is still as creepy as it was 40 years ago with the chanting and the piano. The ominous tone which gets scarier and scarier as the cue progresses works just as well and no matter how many hundreds of horror scores have been released since, this one is still a landmark. As just as most horror scores this one also has the idyllic, beautiful theme which shows how great and sunny life was before whatever happens happens. “The new ambassador” is a beautiful, lyrical piece that announced the great things Jerry was going to compose for romantic and seductive films as well. There is piano, there is flute, this piece is simply beautiful.

This balance between horror and tenderness is the biggest surprise about this score; so many years later, people remember the movie, the terrifying story, the demonic chants but the music of “The omen” also has these quieter, melodic moments that try to balance shocking pieces like “The demise of Mrs. Baylock”. Short as it is, this score is a rollercoaster ride that goes from the sparse piano of “Don’t let him” to the insane chaos of the horror pieces.

This new vinyl release, apart from the beautiful presentation, is a good occasion to get reacquainted with this score or, who knows, for a new generation, to discover it.

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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