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The Mummy (Soundtrack) by Jerry Goldsmith

Between a Rock and a Sarcophagus
Review by Christopher Coleman

 

The Mummy (Soundtrack) by Jerry Goldsmith

The Mummy
6/10

The Mummy (Soundtrack) by Jerry Goldsmith

 

Category

Score

Originality 5
Music Selection 6
Composition 6
CD Length 7
Track Order 7
Performance 7
Final Score 6/10

 


Composer 
Jerry Goldsmith

 

Quick Quotes

"The Mummy is a representative of both Goldsmith’s absolute best and his most mediocre.  Thankfully, due to tracks such as “The Sand Volcano” and “Imhotep,” his favourable work on this release wins out.  The score is in fact much like the film--it works best in the action adventure role, and worst when it switches gears to a more traditional horror mode.  Some fans of Goldsmith may welcome the eclectic nature of the release, while others may be bothered by its varied temperament."****

Roderick Scott - Cinemusic Reviews The Mummy

 

 

Conducted and Produced by Jerry Goldmsith
Orchestrations by Alexander Courage
Executive Album Producers:  Sean Daniel, Jim, Jacks, Stephen Sommers
Released by Decca Records 1999

In 1932 director Karl Freund and actor Boris Karloff provided audiences with one of the scariest movies of the era - a film that is considered a horror-classic by many to this day.  The 1999 release of The Mummy is loosely based on the 1932 feature film and is, at least, the fourth film to dawn the title since 1912.  The basic plot elements shared by the 1932 and 1999 films include the unearthing and resurrection of an Egyptian mummy and one-time high priest buried alive for an adulterous relationship with the Pharaoh's wife.  The reborn mummy seeks vengeance upon the world and to be reunited with his one-time mistress.  With special effects being what they are today, the producers of 1999's The Mummy take a great deal of liberty from its predecessor and rely much more screen-candy than interesting and engaging plot.  The addition of veteran composer Jerry Goldsmith could go a long way in helping to legitimize the film and making the movie a commercial success.  Whether the film's score would be a success in the eyes of film music fans would depend on just which Jerry Goldsmith would show up for this assignment - the innovative master of decades past or the one on auto-pilot.

Those anticipating the next Raiders of the Lost Ark were sadly disappointed by The Mummy.  While similar ingredients could be found in both, the over abundance of one-liners and over-the-top antics made The Mummy little more than a high-tech joke.  Likewise, other than  the most devoted Goldsmith fan, film music fans found themselves disappointed with the score for The Mummy.  There are a number of reasons for this.  First, as already mentioned, the score and film were doomed to be compared to the great John Williams works for the Indiana Jones films.  Second, the score's main theme lacks character and any distinctive qualities  Third, The Mummy shares too much in common with Goldsmith's superior, late Summer project, The 13th Warrior.

Films like The Mummy will forever be held up against, what has evolved into the measuring rod of the genre, Raiders of the Lost Ark.  Because of this, there is inevitable disappointment.  The film nor the score reaches anything close to the classic moments of Raiders - which were punctuated by Williams fantastic underscore and unforgettable theme.  While it is an unfair comparison, any archeological/adventure film will be compared to the Indy series...at least until someone produces a film that tops Spielberg's and Lucas' classic.  While the temptation to go the Raiders-route, to do so would likewise draw criticisms, so producers and composers find themselves caught between a rock and a sarcophagus when making such films.  Jerry Goldsmith and company chose to continue in the well-worn track Goldsmith has carved out over the decades- demanding to remain the copied and not the copier…accept for his own music.

Thematically, so much more could have been done with this score…not to mention with the film itself.   Goldsmith's trademark use of strings, brass, and chorus are all there, but what is lacking is a main theme that would help distinguish this effort from so many of Goldsmith's other works. Track 1, Imhotep , introduces the main theme and it is reincarnated over and over and in various forms all throughout the score.  The track typifies the majority of cues, featuring tender motifs playing tag with bombastic explosions of music. This game of stylistic-tag works in context of such rollercoaster-films, but detracts from its "listenability" outside of the film.  Despite all this, the single best cue is found at the album's conclusion, The Sand Volcano (15), where Goldsmith delivers the main theme and secondary themes in their most consistent and hence enjoyable presentation. 

The disappointment of The Mummy is completed by the amount of similarity between it and The 13th Warrior.  The Mummy almost sounds as though it is comprised of left-overs from Goldsmith's much more enjoyable work for The 13th Warrior.   While such similarities aren't too surprising given the North African and Arabic crossover of the two films, there is little The Mummy offers that The 13th Warrior doesn't do a better job of. If one was at a fork in the road with The 13th Warrior in one hand and The Mummy in the other, I would highly recommend they drop The Mummy in favor of the other.

The Mummy is not really a "bad" score, but it does suffer from serious deficiencies.  Goldsmith fans will still  enjoy this score a great deal as it is par for the course for Goldmsith  The producers of The Mummy DVD also have found something worthwhile about the score as they have chosen to provide an isolated track of the music.  With two sequels in the works, it will be interesting to see what direction films take as well as the music.  Suffice it to say, they both have a lot of headroom to work with.

 


Track Listing and Ratings

 Track Title Time

Rating

1

Imhotep

4:20

 ***
2

The Sarcophagus

2:17

 **
3

Tauger Attack

2:23

 ***
4 Giza Port 2:01  ***
5

Night Boarders

4:08

 ***
6

The Caravan

2:52

 ***
7

Camel Race

3:26

 ***
8

The Crypt

2:26

 ***
9

Mumia Attack

2:19

 **
10

Discoveries

3:41

 **
11

My Favorite Plague

3:59

 **
12 Crowd Control 3:12  ***
13

Rebirth

8:33

 **
14 The Mummy 6:19  ***
15 The Sand Volcano 5:41  ****
 

Total Running Time

57:37  

 

 

The Mummy (Soundtrack) by Jerry Goldsmith

*The Experience-O-Meter displays the track to track listening experience of this soundtrack based on the 5-Star rating given to each track.  It provides a visual depiction of the ebbs and flows of the CD's presentation of the soundtrack.

 

Referenced Reviews
  The 13th Warrior

 

 

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