I’m working out of my office basement today which means that in between leading and preparing for all my coaching sessions I can finally catch up on and indulge in a little vinyl appreciation. And this morning, it’s all beginning with something, well, a little off the wall, the original soundtrack for the ‘Mutiny on the Bounty‘.
I live my life by a certain set of rules. Among them are: 1) Never pass up on a second helping of cheese, 2) Justin Bieber, Adam Sandler and all the Kardashian’s are the epitome of evil incarnate on this earth and are to be avoided at all cost, and 3) if ‘Mutiny on the Bounty‘ ever comes on television, you watch that shit!
Of course, there are more rules (many more, in fact) but there’s just not enough time nor bandwidth to list them all here. Anyway, ‘Mutiny on the Bounty‘ (either, for the record) is one of the greatest films ever made and I’ve seen it (both versions) about a zillion times. So when I found it recently in the soundtrack section of BJ’s Records & Nostalgia in Barrie, Ontario for $8.00, I snatched that shit up. Because, while it may not be on television, not picking it up now and rescuing it from the dark recesses of the store would have been akin to just ignoring it altogether and flipping the channel and, that shit, simply doesn’t ever happen.
This particular record is the original soundtrack for the 1962 historical drama film starring Marlon Brando, Trevor Howard and Richard Harris, and all based on the novel of the same name by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall. The film retells the 1789 real-life mutiny aboard HMAV Bounty led by Fletcher Christian (Brando) against the ship’s captain, William Bligh (Howard) (click HERE for the true history lesson). Given its enormously inflated budget of $19 million, the film was literally a box office flop (the fools!), despite being the 6th highest grossing film of 1962. It grossed only $13,680,000 domestically, earning $9.8 million in US theatrical rentals. While it did not win any Oscars (blasphemy!) it was nominated for seven including Best Picture, Best Cinematography, and, yes, Best Music Score (Bronislau Kaper).
Like the movie for which it was composed, Bronislau Kaper’s composition is brash, thrilling, tense, playful, reflective, and dynamic. Only Miklos Rosza’s ‘Ben-Hur‘ matches it in sheer scope and sweep. Kaper’s use of South Seas rhythms and chorus, along with familiar English melodies, add authenticity to the seafaring saga that moves from the North Atlantic to the the South Pacific. It totally makes me feel like I should have some dark rum with my coffee this morning and, maybe, a parrot on my shoulder. While I still enjoy the 1984 remake ‘The Bounty‘ starring Anthony Hopkins and Mel Gibson, what that version doe snot have is this music score, instead using a nondescript synthesizer which, while at time eerie and creepy, is not as entertaining as this original soundtrack.
The range of Kaper’s score is considerable, from the powerful crescendo finale of ‘Making the Horn‘ through the stunning set-piece ‘The Storm‘ to wonderfully triumphant music for the rounding of the Cape of Good Hope, through the dramatic and tense sequence where the crew of HMS Bounty first encounter ‘Tahitians‘ – pungent, stabbing brass in violent collision with relentless ethnic drumming… Then there is the exceptional 10-minute set piece which brings the film to its intermission, a blistering sequence climaxing with ‘Outrigger Chase/Prisoners‘ and the introduction to the intermission itself.
And that’s just half the film. The score turns darker once the lights dim again, with many terse, brooding and darkly anguished cues – for example ‘Breadfruit Overboard‘ – which while highly effective in context do make for a protracted listening experience. As indeed does the morbidly expressive 15-minute finale montage of ‘The Vote/They’ve Given Up/Gentle/Christian’s Death/Definite End‘.
Yeah, pass the rum.
Even better is that this album is in perfect condition, complete with the color “souvenir” booklet that went with it without so much as a creased page or stain anyway. Amazeballs! This will definitely make for some good bedtime reading-slash-entertainment for HRH one day.