Following on from their excellent Expanded Star Trek II score from last year, FilmScore Monthly and Screen Archives Entertainment have just released the expanded score for Star Trek III: The Search for Spock by Oscar-winner James Horner. TrekMovie gets into the groove with this review of TSFS expanded soundtrack, available now.
REVIEW: Star Trek III: The Search for Spock Expand Edition
Composer: James Horner
Publisher: Film Score Monthly / Screen Archives Entertainment
2 CD set – $24.95
Operatic Subtly Linked To Trek History
There is a moment in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock that is at once maudlin, and yet loving. The Enterprise crew prepares to beam to the Genesis planet after setting the self destruct sequence (and by the way, has there even been a cooler, albeit easily guessed, code that “Zero-zero-zero-destruct-zero”?). As the beam is activated, director Leonard Nimoy has the crew re-appear ever so briefly for a final goodbye. The quiet moment complete, all proverbial hell then breaks loose as ship and planet meet their fates. That scene, a wink at the fans, is indicative of the conflicting (and often affecting) dichotomy that is TSFS. It is a film that has both pathos and humor, death and life, action and character, subtle and operatic sequences.
The new expanded soundtrack for Star Trek III is much like the film it accompanies, a mixture of quiet character pieces (such as “The Mind Meld” and “The Katra Ritual”) and frenetic energy (“Stealing the Enterprise” and “A Fighting Chance to Live”). The second Star Trek sequel and its soundtrack work because they play these tendencies against each other to create a unified work of art from disparate emotional notes.
What is most enjoyable about the expanded score, and not readily apparent on the original 1984 edition, is that it really displays how important the original show’s Alexander Courage fanfare is to the emotionalism of the film and the entire franchise. TSFS expanded score demonstrates a constant usage and variation of the theme (evident in 7 of the 16 tracks on Disc One). While there is still much that is original here, the reiteration of the classic Trek fanfare connects the film symbolically to the television show, and that is a good thing. Often Star Trek films (including Star Trek III) are critiqued for being too close to the television show or being just a "two hour glorified episode”. But it is exactly the affinity for the television version and style which lead to Trek’s popularity and film franchise and the film’s shouldn’t run from that. Plus, Star Trek has always been space opera, and as such, with its characters of Kirk, Spock, McCoy, et. al, always ready for feature films. Whatever one thinks of that criticism, such a connection to the television show is symbolized by the soundtrack’s utilization of the original fanfare. There is great joy in hearing the fanfare utilized so excellently by Horner in TSFS as it helps the reunion of the characters with the audience, and provides an emotional palette for an adventure about friendship and sacrifice.
The Search For Two Disks
The first disc of the expanded soundtrack (69:45 running time) includes many tracks that were not included in the original 1984 release, including the moody “The Klingon’s Plan” and most notably, “A Fighting Chance to Live” which provides the music for the destruction of the Enterprise scenes. “A Fighting Chance to Live” is beautiful, and it is remarkable to hear the music without special effects or dialog for the first time. It is heroic and sad, and its juxtaposing emotions again reference the film’s dualisms. Listening to it is the best thing about a soundtrack filled with many good moments. Fans are also treated to different takes on music that was featured on the 1984 soundtrack, such as the “Prologue and Main Title” which was slightly different as recorded than as was featured in the film.
The first disk ends with a 10:32 track of “That Old Black Magic/Tangerine/I Remember You” source music which plays in the bar as McCoy talks to Yoda, er, I mean the backward talking alien captain. Listening to it definitely brings back memories of seeing the sequence in the film and is an enjoyable addition.
Disc Two (46:57) features the original 1984 soundtrack version, which is nice for fans because the CD of that edition is almost impossible to find for less than $100. Included is the “techno” version of TSFS theme by James Horner and Group 87. Conjuring feelings of “Axel F” and Meco’s “Star Wars Theme,” this is a fun, nostalgic take on Horner’s music. On both Disc One and Disc Two, the track “Stealing the Enterprise” retains all its glory, as the soundtrack ratchets the action and enthusiasm of the music.
20 pages of Liner Notes
The expanded Star Trek III soundtrack includes liner notes by Jeff Bond and Lukas Kendall offering trivia and commentary. It would have been nice if the liner note booklet included rare or behind the scenes photos as the TWOK expanded soundtrack did, although the images that are included are fine since they feature William Shatner and friends in all their 1980s Trekification (disclosure: I helped procure some of these behind the scene photos for the Wrath of Khan edition).
This is a most welcomed addition to the ever expanding “expanded” editions of Star Trek soundtracks (which now include TMP, TWOK, TSFS, and ST09 from various companies). The music of TSFS features some of the most fun and emotional of all of the soundtracks, composed and conducted by a true master, James Horner in the earlier stages of his career. There is much new material to enjoy, and old favorites to engage. Listening to the music isolated from special effects and dialog of the film plays the film itself, and all its emotion, in the imagination. It is a trip worth taking. Even if they tell me no, I will therefore go anyway.
Expanded Star Trek III Available now
Also available – Expanded Star Trek II
Expanded Star Trek 2009 Score too
The past year has been an exciting time for fans of Star Trek music. In addition to the two FSM/SAE expanded Horner soundtracks, Varese Sarabande has just released the expanded version of Michael Giacchino’s Star Trek (2009) score. You can order it at varesesarabande.com.
FSM/SAE provided TrekMovie with a review copy of the expanded soundtrack.