The Omega Man 2.0—Unlimited
The following track-bytrack analyis of the Omega Man score has been rewritten to reflect changes and additions made for the 2008 release of The Omega Man 2.0.
Swingin’ at Neville’s
Ron Grainer recorded almost all of his score to The Omega Man over three days in May 1971. The dates and orchestral groupings were as follows:
May 17, 1971, morning: The first session consisted of the five-player “C” orchestra: Yamaha EX-42, YC-30, and 3 percussion. This was for the smallest organ-based cues.
May 17, 1971, afternoon: The “A” orchestra began recording in the afternoon of the first day, with 45 players at most: 5 woodwinds (four flutes and one bass clarinet, with two of the flutists doubling on alto flute), 4 French horns, harp, EX-42, YC-30, guitar, fender bass, 3 percussion, 12 violas, 12 cellos and 4 basses. The main title kicked off this session. (This is referred to as the “A–1” orchestra below.)
May 18, 1971, morning: The “A” orchestra concluded the next morning but with a different configuration: 4 trombones, piano, EX-42, YC-30, guitar, fender bass, 4 percussion (one always on drum kit), 16 violins, 8 violins, 8 cellos and 4 basses. This was the largest orchestra, totaling 49 players, and performing the large-scale cues (like “Neville Crashes Through”) requiring trombones and violins. (This is referred to as the “A–2” orchestra below.)
May 18, 1971, afternoon: The “B” orchestra (totaling 17 players) doubled the trombones but omitted strings for action cues such as “The Getaway”: 8 trombones, piano, EX-42, YC-30, guitar, bass guitar, 4 percussion (one always on drum kit). Percussion and organ overlays were recorded at the end of this session.
May 19, 1971: Four jazz source cues were recorded on the final day with 5 players: saxophone, vibraphone, drums, bass and piano. Concluding the session was another piece of source music, “Old McDonald Had a Farm” sung by children’s choir (which can be found only on the out-of-print 2000 FSM CD). (This is referred to below as the “S” orchestra, for “source”—so designated by FSM, not the Warner Bros. paperwork.)
May 25, 1971: The next week Grainer recorded the additional organ overlays that appear over “Surprise Party” and “After the Ball” (track 3).
- 1. A Summer Place (1M1, “S”)
- As Robert Neville (Charlton Heston) tools around an abandoned Los Angeles in his convertible, he pops in an 8-track tape to soothe his nerves: Max Steiner’s popular theme music to the soapy 1959 drama A Summer Place. In the finished film, the music stops abruptly as Neville fires a few rounds of automatic ammo at a shadowy figure he spies inside a building.
- 2. The Omega Man (1M2, “A–1”)
- After a pause, Neville resumes his drive to the tune of Ron Grainer’s beautifully elegiac pop title music. Although it is the best-remembered music in the score, Grainer is sparing in his use of this long-form melody: it serves as an overview of the story and as a baroque and somber headstone for humanity, playing mainly in reflective moments in which Neville is allowed to think back on his former life.
- Where Have All the People Gone (1M3, “B”)
- Neville crashes his automobile as the title music ends, and Grainer’s theme for Neville is introduced as the ostensible last remnant of humanity “shops” for a new car at a corpse-littered auto dealership. The “B” section of this melody (a three-note fanfare followed by a dark resolution) is played first in a ghostly passage for organ and trombones as Neville eyes a calendar page that inadvertently marks the final days of civilization. The primary theme for Neville is introduced in a morose treatment for trombone, emphasizing the man’s solitude and loneliness while playing ironically off Charlton Heston’s masculinity. The repeating five-note phrase that dominates the theme plays through many of the film’s action sequences in various guises, providing Heston’s character a dogged, indomitable accompaniment as he struggles against impossible odds.
- 3. Surprise Party (2M1, “B”)
- A bluesy treatment for guitar introduces Grainer’s theme for the Family as Neville returns home and is ambushed by waiting zombies. The rock-based, syncopated Family theme (reminiscent of Grainer’s title music to The Prisoner) cleverly points to the counterculture roots of the clan; the intervening, five-note “B” theme is often associated with the conflict between Matthias (the Family’s leader) and Neville, adding a fateful quality to Matthias’s venomous oratory about his opponent and earmarking several pivotal moments in the film.
- After the Ball (2M2, “B”)
- The main Family theme returns in a sneakier mode, with jazzy counterpoint from organ, as Neville activates the compound lights and the skulking Family members scurry away.
- 4. Needling Neville (2M3, “A–2”)
- Neville responds to heckling from the Family by exploding in anger, and the Family theme plays full-force over scenes of the members burning and pillaging, then with quiet resolve underneath a conversation between Family leader Matthias (Anthony Zerbe) and disciple Zachary (Lincoln Kilpatrick). Neville’s theme returns in the same lonely treatment for trombone heard earlier as Neville fixes himself dinner in a pathetic effort to maintain the rituals of a normal life; organ chords and an underlying rock beat hammer home the constant presence of the Family.
- The Family Wait (3M1, “A–1”)
- After a flashback (recalling the plague destroying the world, and how Neville survived thanks to an experimental vaccine), the Family theme resumes over Matthias speaking to the Family how they will “cleanse the world” through fire. (In the flashback, Matthias is seen in his earlier life as a television news anchor.)
- 5. Swinging at Neville’s (3M2, “S”)
- To accompany his dinner, Neville turns on some mood music: this jazz composition written by Grainer, which later becomes the suspense music just before Neville encounters Lisa.
- Swinging at Neville’s (3M3, “B”)
- This is the only score cue not included on FSM’s previous release of The Omega Man: an underscore variant of “Swinging at Neville’s” that was meant to segue out of the source cue as Neville responds to the Family’s fire-catapult attack by shooting back with a sniper-like machine gun. It was not used in the finished film, and left off the earlier FSM CD for that reason.
- 6. Another Night—Another Day (3M4, “A–1”)
- The “Omega Man” theme plays over a transition from night into early morning.
- The Spirits Still Linger (3M5/4M1, “C”)
- An electronic groaning sounds over echoing keyboard tones as Neville scrounges for supplies in an abandoned department store; Neville’s theme returns for a moment in a child-like arrangement as he samples clothing and aftershave. The eerie groaning and chilling organ chords are capped by a shrill blast of synthesizer noise as Neville uncovers two cadavers; tabla rolls and building percussion underscore his subsequent discovery of a dead Family member. Although Grainer’s suspense music provides the score with its most discordant material, even this largely percussive passage exhibits a pleasing tonal quality.
- 7. Shopping Made Easy (4M2, “C”)
- The jazz melody from “Swinging at Neville’s” returns in an eerie treatment for keyboard as Neville wanders through a clothing store, perversely tempted by scantily clad female mannequins. Heavy percussion erupts as Neville hears a dropped coat hanger and whirls to focus on a mannequin that looks strangely out of place.
- Where Did Lisa Go? (4M3, “A–1”)
- Glassy synth effects sound as Neville sees the “mannequin” begin to move, revealing Lisa (Rosalind Cash). Grainer segues to a bizarre pop version of the “Omega Man” theme as Neville chases Lisa outside; glissandi and harsh synth chords combine in a strained synthetic version of the title music, adding a hallucinatory effect as Neville questions his own shaky perceptions of reality.
- 8. ’Round Midnight (4M4, “S”)
- Neville heads to an abandoned bar to relax. He listens to a cassette tape featuring this jazz standard by Cootie Williams and Thelonious Monk, arranged by Grainer for saxophone, vibes, drums, bass and piano.
- 9. Jumped by the Family (4M5, “C”)
- The groan of a Yamaha organ returns over glassy synth chords and timpani as Neville explores the recesses of a wine cellar, only to be jumped by zombies.
- The Trial (5M1, “C”)
- Bach-like organ riffs sound in Matthias’s courtroom antechamber as the Family leader has his “brothers” show the captured Neville the “marks”—their ghostly all-white eyes, greeted with dramatic organ chords and shifting tones from the waterchime.
- 10. On the Tumbril (5M2, “A–1”)
- The Bach-influenced organ licks return to launch one of the score’s set pieces as Neville is dragged to his own funeral pyre in the center of Dodger Stadium. The “Omega Man” theme is played full force, with stabbing accents from the string section and full-blooded horn performances. The Family’s “B” theme resolves the ceremony as Matthias calls the conflagration to order—until the stadium lights come on, immobilizing the photo-sensitive clan. Grainer’s rock-oriented action music launches in time with the stadium lights, the Family theme rocking out in protest as a mysterious figure rescues Neville.
- The Getaway (5M3/6M1, “B”)
- Grainer begins his characterization of Lisa by switching the Neville motive to piano, the instrument that will be associated with her throughout much of the film: here it plays as romantic sparks fly between Neville and Lisa during their first, heated conversation. They make their getaway on motorcycle while fighting off hordes of robed Family members, all to the tune of an aggressive trombone take on Neville’s masculine theme and unsettling contrapuntal organ effects.
- 11. Bad Medicine for Richie (6M2, “A–1”)
- A mellow theme for guitar and strings underscores the treatment of Richie (Eric Laneuville), Lisa’s younger brother, who is slowly “turning” into one of the photosensitive zombies until Neville administers an experimental serum.
- Richie on the Turn (7M1, “A–1”)
- As the treatment continues, Grainer adds more disturbing synth effects.
- 12. All Through the Night (7M2, “S”)
- As Neville and Lisa relax for a romantic dinner, Lisa sets the tone with a recording of this Cole Porter classic.
- 13. Zachary Makes His Move (7M3/8M1, “A–2”)
- Neville’s action motive sounds an alarm over shrill strings as the Family cuts the power to Neville’s compound. A repeating rhythm of piano and synth effects begins a long sequence in which Neville’s manly theme (played by low strings) contrasts with the delicate piano treatment for Lisa and the sound of the Family theme. As Zachary climbs toward Neville’s balcony, Neville struggles to restart the building generator and return to protect Lisa. Grainer does a spectacular job of tying together the triple plot threads in one well-developed musical sequence, and he engages in a bit of foreshadowing by allowing the piano to take on lighter versions of both Neville’s theme and the Family theme during shots of Lisa’s vigil, implying the divided loyalties on which the film’s plot will eventually turn.
- 14. Making Lisa (8M2, “A–2”)
- In the aftermath of Zachary’s attack, Neville finally has his way with Lisa and Grainer’s score turns smooth and lightly romantic, dominated by Lisa’s piano-based melody.
- Cobwebs and Vials (8M3, “C”)
- Neville and Lisa visit the county morgue in search of medical supplies as the title music plays eerily on organs.
- Hope Springs Eternal (8M4, “A–1”)
- A new and hopeful theme for Dutch’s group of children (syncopated like the Family theme, but representing a different future) is introduced for a deleted scene that would have made more explicit the film’s subtext of Neville as Christ. A young girl, who earlier in the film asked if Neville was God, leaves daisies and apples outside his apartment in prayer for him: “Please—I brought you this stuff. Don’t let them take me and put me in a bag please!”
- Gravestones and Surprises (9M1, “C”)
- A second deleted scene was meant to appear after a reel change: Lisa, visiting the graves of her parents, encounters a young girl who is suffering from the plague—and is herself holding a dead infant.
- Lisa Shopping (9M2, “B”)
- The track resumes with music used in the picture as Lisa shops alone; the mood lightens considerably.
- 15. Richie on the Roof (9M3/10M1, “A–1”)
- Grainer produces some of the most haunting and beautifully melodic music in the score as Neville and Richie debate the wisdom of leaving the malevolent Family members alive. Echoes of the main title’s “B” theme rock in indecision between two notes as Neville ponders the question of whether to show mercy to the barbarians, while Richie’s theme moves between a rich string arrangement and a more hollow treatment for keyboard.
- 16. The Future Is Secured (10M1A, “A–1”)
- The warm children’s theme returns for a brief scene in which Neville informs Dutch that his serum successfully reverses the effects of the plague.
- Neville and Dutch (10M2, “A–1”)
- An uncertain motive for strings and harp continues with Richie’s material as the young boy leaves a note for Neville. Neville and Dutch discuss leaving the city in the wake of their success with the serum; the music accelerates suspensefully as Neville discovers Richie’s note, telling him that the boy has decided to go to Matthias with news of the cure.
- Richie Is Caught (10M3, “A–1”)
- Richie’s theme returns in an even more concerned mode as he enters Matthias’s lair and is confronted by members of the Family. (The first half of this cue was dialed out of the finished film, but it was meant to overlap “Neville and Dutch.”) Tabla percussion and organ shrieks accompany shock cuts of the ghostly Family members’ faces.
- This segues into a brief recapitulation of the opening phrases from “Zachary Makes His Move” as Neville stockpiles equipment for a rescue mission. This edit was made in post-production; the scene was not originally scored by Grainer. It is a familiar moment of the score and has been recreated for this album, the only such “tracking” replicated on the CD.
- Lisa Joins the Family (10M6, “A–2”)
- The Family material continues as a traveling shot reveals that Lisa has “turned” to the “light side”—succumbing to the plague.
- Star Chamber (10M4, “A–2”)/Neville Finds Richie (10M5, “A–2”)
- The Family theme (in “Star Chamber”) and “Omega Man” theme (in “Neville Finds Richie”) are heard as Neville infiltrates the courthouse only to discover the brutalized body of Richie. (The beginning of “Star Chamber” was meant to accompany deleted footage in which Matthias, presiding over the captured Richie in “court,” incites his followers into a chant that all but seals the boy’s fate.) These two cues were originally located prior to “Lisa Joins the Family,” but were flip-flopped with that scene so that Neville’s solemn “Oh my God” (punctuated by a single strike of the waterchime—actually an overlay repeated from 1:56 of “On the Tumbril”) could segue immediately into his action revenge. The original FSM CD of The Omega Man featured a “hybrid” sequence that inserted “Lisa Joins the Family” between “Star Chamber” and “Neville Finds Richie.”
- Neville Crashes Through (10M7 Pt. I “A–2”)
- An action treatment of Neville’s theme appears as humanity’s last warrior races through the streets in a jeep, attacking the Family head on.
- Music Box (10M7 Pt. II, “C”)
- Grainer engages in a fascinating conceit as Neville battles Family members in front of a toy store: the main theme plays out in a ghostly, music-box-like duet for the EX-42 and YC-30 organs during a brutal exchange of crossbow bolts and machine gun fire. (This is proscribed by the film’s timing notes: “This being a toy store now visible, use a simple music-box theme here.”)
- 17. The Trap (11M1, “A–1”)
- Neville returns to his compound to find Lisa hidden in the dark. She emerges to reveal that she is now a member of the Family, and that she has brought Matthias and his brothers into Neville’s sanctuary. The elegiac title theme plays wistfully on keyboards and strings as Lisa and Matthias reveal themselves; Neville’s fanfare emerges in a rhythmically shifting treatment as Matthias has his men destroy all of Neville’s possessions and technology. The Family theme finally dominates, in a triumphant setting for strings and horns.
- Nemesis for Neville (11M2, “A–2”)
- Waterchimes and organ chords sound as Neville turns the tables and briefly takes Matthias hostage to the tune of a heroic trombone setting of Neville’s motive, quickly transitioning to a treatment for piano as Neville drags Lisa into an elevator and outside. More rock percussion greets Neville as Matthias begins a siren-like call to Lisa. Neville’s theme blasts forth as the hero is struck by Matthias’s lance.
- Matthias the Victor (11M3, “C”)
- Mortally wounded, Neville sinks into a fountain as the title melody plays in a ghostly, fragmented rendition for synths.
- (The next music heard in the film, slated 11M4, is Dutch’s group of children singing “Old McDonald Had a Farm.” This can be heard exclusively as an unmarked bonus passage at the end of FSM’s first edition CD.)
- 18. Dutch Takes Over (11M5, “A–2”)
- Neville’s theme plays in a melancholy treatment for piano, strings and guitar as Dutch and the children find Lisa and the expiring Neville. Neville’s theme returns in a rhythmic, downbeat treatment that was meant to continue through the end titles.
- Dutch Takes Over (11M5 Alternate, “A–2”)
- In the film, the concluding statement of Neville’s theme was replaced by a final tag of the children’s theme, an upbeat coda that played ironically over the final, symbolic image of Neville crucified in a fountain of his own life-giving blood. Both the unused end titles and the version heard in the film conclude this album, in that order.
- “I think we wanted the downbeat ending and the distributor insisted on the other one,” Walter Seltzer recalls. “Playing that upbeat music over a man who’s basically being crucified seemed a little weird to me, but then the whole picture was kind of weird, so I couldn’t complain. I know Heston and I wanted the downbeat end title.” —