Music By Leonard Rosenman
La-La Land Records
13 Tracks/Disc Time: 47:50
The 60's were a groovy time and filled with serious and memorable films that included "Lawrence Of Arabia", "Doctor Zhivago", "Spartacus", "To Kill A Mockingbird" to name a few, while there was also the flip side that included "Midnight Cowboy", "Bullitt", "Planet Of The Apes", "The Good, The Bad And The Ugly" and "2001: A Space Odyssey" that sported a hip, and somewhat audacious style to them that also put them in this category of memorable and paved the way for a new group of films that would pave the way for what was to come in the 70's and 80's. Where does the film "Fantastic Voyage" fit in? It really is a revolutionary film in its' own right since it was one of the biggest budgeted sci-fi films of its' era and one that had great things going for it that made it a huge success all around and one of the genre. Scientist Jan Benes (Jean Del Val), who knows the secret to keeping soldiers shrunken for an indefinite period, escapes from behind the Iron Curtain with the help of CIA agent Grant (Stephen Boyd). While being transferred, their motorcade is attacked and during the attack. Benes is knocked on concious hitting head and causing a blood clot to form in his brain. In order to save him, a submarine named The Proteus is shrunken to microscopic size along with a group of scientists led by General Carter (Edmund O'Brien) which also includes Donald Pleasance ("Halloween"), Arthur Kennedy, and the lovely Raquel Welch and injected into his blood stream with a small crew. Problems arise almost as soon as they enter the bloodstream as the crew has only one hour to get in Benes's brain, remove the clot and get out.
The film was solid success and recently was released on Blu-Ray by 20th Century-Fox Home Entertainment to which La-La Land Records has now reissued Leonard Rosenman's unique score that has been out-of-print for a very long time after being released on the Film Score Monthly label. The late Leonard Rosenman was a memorable and accomplished composer who musical style could be described as modernistic and a bit avant garde which was made to memorable use in "East Of Eden" and "Rebel Without A Cause" films starring his friend and former piano student, the late James Dean. A former piano hall performer, who's work would apply his Oscar nominated works for "Cross Creek" and "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home", while providing memorable work for lesser films such as "Prophecy", "The Car", "RoboCop 2" and the animated version of "Lord Of The Rings", which were pretty much unworthy of him.
The score to "Fantastic Voyage" really does feature Rosenman's style quite perfectly and a score that is a bit ahead of its' time with its' modernistic style and orchestration that really fit the films' visuals quite perfectly. As standalone experience however, it is an interesting experience to be sure in that the music is a little atonal at times to enjoy, but has moments that actually could be enjoyed. The film really takes off after the 40 minute mark which Rosenman's material appears for the first time sans the "Main Title Special Effects" which primarily suspense material which features unique instrumentation for many of the major highlights of the score that include "Pulmonary Artery", "Proteus Moving Through Sac", "Cora Trapped", "The Human Brain" and "Get The Laser" which feature buzzing brass, tension laden woodwinds, piano and percussion effects that really drive these tracks which do feature some warmth, but really do maintain plenty of suspense and frenetic material to keep you very interested. "Optic Nerve/End Cast" ends the album and the score pretty much the rest of the score is, in Rosenman's interesting modernistic effects style with a nice color of warmth and triumph as the mission is completed to great success.
"Fantastic Voyage" is a film way ahead of its' time and a fun ride that did inspire a remake of sorts in the equally thrilling and enjoyable "Innerspace" starring Dennis Quaid, Meg Ryan and Martin Short which would put a spin on the storyline but still keep this film's inspiration throughout its' robust two hours. While this film was an inspiration for the genre, musically not so much and alot of the material I honestly couldn't quite warm up to as much as I had hoped to after two listens which was quite interesting. Leonard Rosenman is a composer that is hit and miss for most and for good reasons which is that his style was a little too frigid or avant garde to enjoy with "Cross Creek" and "Star Trek IV" being his closest to being scores of warmth which both resulted in Oscar nominations because of it. Fans of Rosenman or the film itself, will love this score and others will find it as a curosity and a pretty good one. For me, I was really up and down with this one. I liked parts of it and they were well done, but I have to give this one a marginal thumbs down just because it's too cold at times for a real enjoyable listen.