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PLANET OF THE APES: SOUNDTRACK

A planet governed by a bunch of monkeys? After tuning in to Parliament Time recently, I’d say the denouement of the original film was pretty close to the money.

Of course, it was also a political statement of its cold-war times. But it does remain a taught and unsettling classic; and not the least due to Jerry Goldsmith’s legendary score. An avant-garde masterpiece of controlled dissonance, the film’s irony was all the more powerful for the alien atmosphere created by its music.

So Burton and Elfman, that diabolical duo of macabre surrealism, had some gorilla-sized shoes to fill here. Burton referred back to Boulle’s Monkey Planet novel, upped the action, and effaced much of the subtlety, but did bring along his gothic, visual panache.

Elfman’s score is neither rich with thematic development, nor innovation. It won’t please melody addicts, and it’s not on the same planet as Goldsmith’s score—in more ways than one. However, it is a success in its own right.

Attempts by film scorers to forge potency by welding orchestra and electronica are in over supply, and generally under achieve. But here the blend is synergistic; with frenetic, programmed percussion driving the orchestrations. Elfman always arranges his strings with elegance and great energy. Often they gather momentum of their own accord—in the cascading exuberance of Edward Scissorhands or The Simpsons—but in this instance they more often provide the fabric for ornamentation.

Even without many of the Elfman signatures—none of the ethereal choruses of Sleepy Hollow either—his imprimatur is still evident. From early bolero bars in Ape Suite #1 he not only bombards us with a farrago of percussive sounds, but a tapestry of rhythms. Sometimes frenetic and always intense, the consistent mannerisms vary in nuance from the tense and apocalyptic build up of Preparing For Battle and The Battle Begins, to ponderous, inexorable beats. The latter providing a weight of suspense to the cue The Hunt, which is overlaid with fierce bursts of rhythm and pinpricks of metallic percussion, like thin rays through a jungle canopy.

Short, accented brass statements act as recurring motifs throughout the score, cleverly deployed to add military drama within an alien milieu. Occasionally, Elfman reverts to his more whimsical nightmarishness, going light on percussion but heavy with dark overtones in the sardonically jaunty Branding The Herd—not literally a “danse macabre” but stepping to a similarly sinister tune.

The CD concludes with the fulgurating, electronic percussion of Paul Oakenfold’s Rule The Planet Remix. An aggressive techno track full of the usual cliches, but coated over Elfman’s phrases with unusual flair; it results in a climactic finale to the CD that shakes the senses. It’s disgusting what this sort of music does to humans. But I’m wearing the ape-like hairs that it’s grown on my chest with pride.
Brad Green

Published August 30, 2001

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SOUNDTRACK CLIPS:
Track 2 - Ape Suite #1
Track 15 - Rule The Planet Remix

TITLE: Planet Of The Apes

ID: 399700 087185

Sony Classical

SCORE: Danny Elfman

EXEC. PRODUCER: Tim Burton

RULE THE PLANET REMIX: Paul Oakenfold







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