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This is a comments thread about FSM CD: Ice Station Zebra
 
 Posted:   Feb 7, 2009 - 10:28 AM   
 By:   mark ford   (Member)

First off, I don't care for Legrand's music for films that much, however having said that, I jumped at the chance to get this CD. The music is inventive, experimental, beautifully orchestrated and exciting. The recording quality is superb. The track titled Entr' Acte was used for years as the theme to The Million Dollar Movie shown weekday afternoons when I was growing up. It brings back great memories. Highly recommended even, if like me, you don't normally like Legrand.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 7, 2009 - 4:31 PM   
 By:   OnyaBirri   (Member)

Interesting take.

I happen to LOVE Legrand, both his film music and non-film music (the French new wave stuff is the best).

I saw this bloated, overly drawn out movie recently, and I thought that much of the music was, in the context of the film, over the top and completely inappropriate.

Especially the grandiose, romantic music when the submarine surfaces a few times. I guess I'd feel romantic too if a giant cylinder was headed toward me.

Maybe this music works well on its own - I've never found the LP - but I thought it really stuck out in movie. Stuck out, so to speak.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 8, 2009 - 1:21 AM   
 By:   MusicMad   (Member)

I'm with Mark on this one. I like a lot of M. Legrand's film music though find his seminal score to The Thomas Crown Affair somewhat questionnable.

As for the subject film, I accept that it is far from perfect, enjoyable if not very good (the story in the novel is far, far superior) but one of the best things about it is M. Legrand's score. So what if the theme for the submarine is romantic ... we landlubbers are often told that seafarers love their ships/boats ...

... and for the atmospheric underwater sequences, the score is simply wonderful. That pinging sound is so effective!

I enjoyed the album score (re-recorded) greatly; I couldn't believe just how much better the score became with FSM's superb release.

Edit: apologies ... I had always thought the original vinyl album was a re-recording but Mr. Kendall states otherwise. The FSM CD release simply sounds so much better!

It's not a score to play regularly but find the time to listen to it all-through, preferably in the evening, turn the lights out so all you have are the twinkling lights of your hi-fi display, whatever and relax. It's a wonderful listening experience.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 8, 2009 - 6:55 AM   
 By:   OnyaBirri   (Member)

I find that really good scores by composers I like tend not to call attention to themselves. I really felt that ISZ DOES call attention to itself in parts.

Now, check out some of the French New Wave films that Legrand scored early in his career- if you can find them.

There is a companion disc to the Legrand Cinema box set that is focused exclusively on this sub-genre. Most or all of the films are represented on the box set, but the single disc features more music from each of them.

As for Thomas Crown, that whole movie is all about style - it's like a 1968 Playboy Cutty Sark ad come to life. Legrand's music is a part of that style.

 
 Posted:   Feb 8, 2009 - 10:48 AM   
 By:   Jeff Bond   (Member)

I do agree that the music sticks out (and I find this happens with a number of Legrand's "straight" dramatic scores) in the film--for me the film is a great guilty pleasure. But the score is a tremendous experience on its own outside the film. Unfortunately I think the prevailing notion recently is that no one should notice the music in a movie which is why film music has gotten so boring lately.

 
 Posted:   Feb 8, 2009 - 11:03 AM   
 By:   Lukas Kendall   (Member)


I am very found of this score. Just so there is no confusion: the original MGM Records releases was in fact the original soundtrack, albeit quite abridged. FSM's CD is the complete score.

Lukas

 
 Posted:   Feb 8, 2009 - 11:12 AM   
 By:   mark ford   (Member)

I guess a problem with a post like this is whether we are reviewing the music on CD or the music as it is used in the film (or both). Since this is a comments section for the FSM CDs, then I think it should probably only reflect the music as presented on CD. I also agree that the music did not fit the film all that well in spots. Nevertheless, I think the score on CD is fantastic and should be judged in the context of music on CD only for these posts. Of course maybe that's just me.

Looking at other aspects of a score may be better served as a regular board topic. The problem may be that the CD comments also appear in the general board and may be indistinguishable from a regular post. Since this is a new thing on the website, there's bound to be growing pains. Maybe any type of post is welcome for the FSM CD comments. Perhaps Lukas might want to chime in on this and let us know what he had in mind.

 
 Posted:   Feb 8, 2009 - 12:11 PM   
 By:   Lukas Kendall   (Member)


I have learned that trying to steer these conversations onto one topic or another is like trying to stop the ocean. As long as nothing breaks the few rules we have -- no politics/religion, no bootlegs, a general respect for one another -- let's see where it goes.

Lukas

 
 Posted:   Feb 8, 2009 - 12:16 PM   
 By:   Moonie   (Member)

This was always one of my favorite scores, I loved it that FSM put it out.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 8, 2009 - 12:18 PM   
 By:   Gordon Reeves   (Member)

Scuzi 4 Going Slightly Off-Topic (but it's all Jeff's Fabulous Fault wink)Department:



Quite an astute assessment there, Meester Bee, and one we usually wholeheartedly subscribe to.

Mind you, there are specific exceptions to that general rule. Fer instance, we were profoundly surprised at his muscular main title (and subsequent exciting flourishes) for



which, against all odds, remains our favorite of his. Your take on that? ... smile

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 8, 2009 - 12:25 PM   
 By:   James MacMillan   (Member)

Well, I have to say that my interest (and, certainly, enjoyment) of the music for ICE STATION ZEBRA was triggered by the fact that it was the only film I've ever experienced on a huge screen, probably one-step down from the Cinerama process. This was at the Coliseum Cinerama cinema at Eglinton Toll in Glasgow, now long-gone.

As an impressionable teenager, it was overwhelming and I wallowed in it, loved it. The music? Great!

Let's not forget - Howard Hughes loved it too!

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 8, 2009 - 12:45 PM   
 By:   Disco Stu   (Member)

I bought the score because, very much in personal tradition and thus unlike most, I really like the film.
It was one of my better if not best choices as far as taking a chance on buying a soundtrack CD goes.
I really like it. It has the sound it shares with "The Thomas Crown affair" and somewhat like "The appointment" (which I took a chance on because it had music by Stu Phillips).
It has the late 60's ultra class 'n style sound.

"Ice station Zebra" will stay in my collection and that's for sure.

Kind regards.

D.S.

 
 Posted:   Feb 8, 2009 - 6:53 PM   
 By:   Scott M (Oldsmith)   (Member)

All film scores stick out for me, because I listen for them. Whenever someone says "you shouldn't notice the score if it's done well" flies right in the face of my film watching experience. Actually, the better it is, the more I notice it (Star Wars - great score and everyone and his grandmother noticed it). If it becomes sonic wallpaper, then it's not something I enjoy.

Because this score stuck out, I fell in love with it. And it's one of those scores that made me go out to find more of Legrand's work...only to be crushingly disappointed in everything else he's done. This was the only score (that I know of) of it's kind he's written.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 8, 2009 - 8:03 PM   
 By:   OnyaBirri   (Member)

its.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 8, 2009 - 9:17 PM   
 By:   peterproud   (Member)

Scuzi 4 Going Slightly Off-Topic (but it's all Jeff's Fabulous Fault wink)Department:



Quite an astute assessment there, Meester Bee, and one we usually wholeheartedly subscribe to.

Mind you, there are specific exceptions to that general rule. Fer instance, we were profoundly surprised at his muscular main title (and subsequent exciting flourishes) for



which, against all odds, remains our favorite of his. Your take on that? ... smile



I would love to see a complete and remastered THREE MUSKETEERS someday...it is such a rich and playful score. As for ISZ, I find myself humming that sweeping horn theme at the oddest times, for no apparent reason. That's the sign of a good score, right?

 
 Posted:   Apr 11, 2010 - 6:02 AM   
 By:   Grecchus   (Member)

As an impressionable teenager, it was overwhelming and I wallowed in it, loved it. The music? Great!

I first saw ISZ at seven or eight while living on the island of Malta. My 'nanna' took me to the talkies. She couldn't speak english and I had no conception of what the cold war meant. But it was great, whatever it was all supposed to mean. The one piece of music that stayed with me from that point on was the sequence following the intermission, when the Tigerfish crew set out to look for Zebra. Legrand's thumping score has been with me since. I love it to bits.

 
 Posted:   Apr 11, 2010 - 7:27 AM   
 By:   robertmro   (Member)

They don't write scores like that anymore.

 
 
 Posted:   Apr 11, 2010 - 8:38 AM   
 By:   eriknelson   (Member)

Well, I have to say that my interest (and, certainly, enjoyment) of the music for ICE STATION ZEBRA was triggered by the fact that it was the only film I've ever experienced on a huge screen, probably one-step down from the Cinerama process.

I also have vivid memories of seeing ISZ in 70mm on the huge screen in the Cooper Cinerama theatre in Denver (also long gone). I became a movie fan in that theatre growing up. Hearing Legrand's music in six track along with the wraparound visuals made a big impression on me, and the FSM discs bring it all back to life.

 
 
 Posted:   Apr 11, 2010 - 9:17 AM   
 By:   James MacMillan   (Member)

Well, I have to say that my interest (and, certainly, enjoyment) of the music for ICE STATION ZEBRA was triggered by the fact that it was the only film I've ever experienced on a huge screen, probably one-step down from the Cinerama process.

I also have vivid memories of seeing ISZ in 70mm on the huge screen in the Cooper Cinerama theatre in Denver (also long gone). I became a movie fan in that theatre growing up. Hearing Legrand's music in six track along with the wraparound visuals made a big impression on me, and the FSM discs bring it all back to life.




Yes, in that sense it makes for real "movie music". As young as I was, I thought that Michel Legrand was an odd choice as composer for this type of film. But he certainly triumphed!

- James.

 
 Posted:   Apr 11, 2010 - 12:18 PM   
 By:   WILLIAMDMCCRUM   (Member)

I think it's an unbelievably good score.

Legrand with this one is a bit like Previn or North, in that he's in a phase of, 'I want to write a big epic orchestral score, but I want nothing to be predictable, so everywhere I can, I'll take the expected chord and change the harmonic so it's always a little bit off somewhere else'. So it ends up not a Romantic score (as is a lot of Legrand, or a fugato-style one), but a post-impressionstic composition. It's full of surprises at every turn.

Maybe that's a stage everybody goes through in different fields, then they tire of it in case it becomes novelty for novelty's sake. But I wish Hollywood HADN'T tired of that style, because apart from the likes of Goldsmith and Rosenman who kept that sort of trick alive, when post-Star-Wars, everybody DID return to symphonic scores, it was the more predictable Romantic/Straussian type of composition that emerged at the top, which was probably a regression.

I wish Legrand and others had stuck to their guns, because that style of post-impressionistic, dissonance-embracing (but tastefully) phase was a pinnacle of film composition in my view.

Why do certain orchestrations and dissonances sound 'icy'? I don't know, but they do ... the aural equivalent of nippy gin or whisky rather than beer.

 
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