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Thursday, March 26, 2009


The Island of Dr. Moreau
Music by Laurence Rosenthal
La-La Land Records LLLCD 1085 (US)
15 Tracks 57:33 mins

Only previously available as a bootleg LP and a promotional CD, it's good to have this fine 1977 score by Laurence Rosenthal commercially available, albeit as a limited edition of just 1200 units.
Don Taylor's version of the H.G. Wells novel is the second of three filmed adaptations, the first in 1932 under the title of Island of the Lost Souls, and the most recent directed by John Frankenheimer with Marlon Brando as the title character in 1996. Taylor's version stars Burt Lancaster as mad scientist Moreau, whose experiments on a remote island have produced a number of human-animal hybrids; with support from Michael York, as the shipwreck victim who becomes stranded there, and Barbara Carrera as the love interest.
Rosenthal considered his score for the film as one of his favourites, in his own words an effort to "produce a melodic style that was primitive and struggling, as though to suggest these humanimals were struggling and trying to become human beings; using, for example, a combination of very high bassoon and very high English Horn playing in their top registers, producing a strained, agonized sound."
It's certainly an interesting score and somewhat influential, with echoes in early works by James Horner, for example.
The "Main Title" opens with "Moreau's Theme," a mysterious English horn solo, which is taken up increasingly dramatically by orchestra. This gives way to the savage action of "The Jungle,"as Braddock (York) is pursued by unseen creatures, before ending on the Moreau theme again.
Rosenthal gently introduces his somewhat ethereal love theme in "Maria and Friend/After Dinner," the Moreau theme returning rather ominously in "Doctor's Study" to conclude the track, and then given full voice on the horn again in the subsequent "On the Beach," but quickly giving way to the love theme, which surges passionately at times, before the cue ends mysteriously with "More Questions."
We're back with the savagery in "Forest Murmurs," which at times reminds somewhat of Jerry Goldsmith's action music in Planet of the Apes. The cue then turns ominous and suspenseful for "Dr. Moreau's Zoo," with the character's theme returning in somewhat subdued, sinister mode; the suspense building to a crescendo, as the living, breathing results of the good doctor's experiments are revealed to Braddock. After a low-key opening, the following "Maria and Andrew" once more returns us to the love theme. The next track brings together several short cues in sequence, providing a variety of moods, mostly of the darker variety, with a little action here and there. There's action all the way in the following "To the House of Pain," opening with savage horn calls, but eventually giving way to the increasingly tragic "Funeral Pyre." "Involution" opens menacingly, then turns mysterious as Moreau adds Braddock to his list of experimental subjects. Moreau's theme is heard in a variation for flutes here and in the following "Braddock's Cage," in which the humanimals witness another side to the doctor and the music builds ominously towards their rebellion, and the brief furious action of "Moreau's Death," horns screaming as Braddock fights the humanimals off, the cue ending on almost a simulation of Moreau's fading heartbeat.
Rosnethal lets the dogs loose in the high-powered action of "Man and Beast" that follows, as the humanimals destroy Moreau's compound and let loose the caged beasts. The action concludes in "The Holocaust," the cue ending powerfully as Moreau's compound burns.
Interestingly, the ending of the film was changed after Rosenthal had written his finale, which is hugely dramatic as Maria reverts to the jungle cat she originally was
A couple of bonus tracks are included at the end of the disc, the first, an alternate take of "The Jungle;" the second, a livelier take of "To the House of Pain."
The accompanying booklet is the usual high-quality publication, featuring numerous colour stills from the film, together with Randall D. Larson's extensive notes and cue-by-cue guide.
Go to for more info and samples, though the page now shows the album to be sold out, so you may have to shop around a little to secure your copy of this splendid score.


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