We travel back in time and go back a whopping 40 years, straight to the summer of 1982. And the journey is worth it, because those summer months became a key event in pop, film and music culture. Incredibly successful films, stories and actors were presented to the awestruck public. Film music was often decisive for success. Here are ten of the epic milestones that are unforgotten cinematically and musically…
1. ET the Extraterrestrial // John Williams – Flying Theme
It was a heartfelt, heartwarming film. Everyone suddenly wanted to “phone home” – or ride a BMX bike. The congenial and equally restless John Williams left his mark with his music for the cult film “ET the Extra-Terrestrial” in 1982. He underlined the emotional and equally dynamic facet of the film. The film has garnered awards ranging from the Golden Globe and Grammy to the Academy Award and BAFTA. The music is still undoubtedly one of the most famous of all time.
2. Poltergeist // Jerry Goldsmith – Poltergeist
Another outstanding composer of the time was Jerry Goldsmith. He caused a sensation with his soundtrack music for “Poltergeist”. While he relies on restrained children’s voices and harp sounds for the title track, the lullaby theme for Carol Anne draws inspiration from the orchestral sounds of John Williams. Touching and, of course, always bizarrely frightening.
3. Brisby and the Mystery of NIMH // Jerry Goldsmith
The widowed mouse Mrs. Brisby has to move out of her home in a field with her children to save her family from the farmer’s plough. In her distress, she asks the rats nearby for help. She soon finds herself in a dangerous conflict. It is an enchanting children’s film filled with adventure, which is impressively staged by Jerry Goldsmith’s orchestral compositions.
4. “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” – James Horner
For budget reasons, the Star Trek episode “The Wrath of Khan” should use less orchestra music, i.e. a smaller set of instruments in the overall production. In fact, the episode is considered one of the best in Star Trek history. And the soundtrack is also powerful. The aim of the film composer was to make the soundtrack sound wild and pagan despite the limited resources, and the title melody was prominently incorporated again. Well, although initially an inexpensive synth was to be used, the production company approved a 90-piece orchestra for the recording. Being human is worth it.
5. TRON / Soundtrack Wendy Carlos and Journey
Protagonist Kevin Flynn delves into a mysterious computer world and finds a solution to right a monstrous wrong done to him. The music was written by Wendy Carlos, who was almost the only woman in a sea of male music composers at the time. It’s a pity, but fortunately the world is changing. TRON is an unforgettable film with a futuristic plot. Wendy Carlos relies on synthesizer sounds as well as rock and pop elements. In fact, Journey songs have also been incorporated, namely “Only Solutions” and “1990s Theme”.
6. Mad Max 2 – The Enforcer // Brian May
Many years had passed since Max Rockatansky, played by Mel Gibson, lost everything and sought revenge on a gang for the deaths of his wife and child. Like the previous film and the following ones, Mad Max 2 was an absolute action film in which all clichés were pulled out of the bag. Rockatansky took no prisoners. The soundtrack to Mad Max 2 was written by the Australian film composer Brian May, who is often confused with the guitarist of the band Queen, even by us at first. But while Brian May, that is Queen, attracted attention in the ’80s in terms of sound film music, above all with “Flash Gordon”, Brian May, that is the Australian, was also involved in film hits such as “The Blue Lagoon”, “Missing in Action 2” or “Nightmare on Elm Street 6”. He staged the soundtrack for Mad Max and also for Mad Max 2 and they are rather mysterious and full of pathos…
7. Blade Runner // Vangelis – Soundtrack
One of Harrison Ford’s best leading roles was in the science fiction film Blade Runner. Rich industrialists hire ex-cop Rick Deckard to track down and eliminate replicants. Fun fact: The film, from 1982, takes place in the city of Los Angeles in November 2019. We have now passed the time. It was also the time when synthesizers were increasingly being discovered for the film world. The soundtrack was composed and recorded by the late Greek electronic musician Vangelis. May he rest in peace.
8. The Liberator / The Beastmaster // Lee Holdrige – Soundtrack 1982
The Liberator is a barbarian/fantasy film based on the book The Beastmaster. Dar uses all his skills to rescue his brother, King Tal, from the ruthless mage Lord Argon. Lee Holdrige provided the music for all parts of the trilogy. The music is orchestral, perfectly fitting for a story with kings, temples and dark magic. Unfortunately, the film didn’t make half of its budget. Instead, it lost a whopping $5 million. It could not compete against the film “Conan the Barbarian”, which was released at the same time. Bad timing.
9. Conan the Barbarian // Basil Poledouris – Soundtrack 1982
Arnold Schwarzenegger, known for his muscles, was the ideal cast for “Conan the Barbarian”, another barbarian film that went to the box office in 1982. The music comes from Basil Poledouris and his composition is also characterized by lively full-orchestra sounds. He skillfully works with the contrasts of epic tension and almost mystical dynamics. Definitely worth seeing and hearing.
10. Rocky III – Eye Of The Tiger / Survivor – “Eye Of The Tiger”
The melodrama of the boxer Rocky Balboa was already cult in its third episode before it even hit the cinemas. It was a thrilling story, but not only actor Sylvester Stallone had put his incomparable stamp on the series as the Italian Stallion. The famous scene where he trains and runs up the staircase, wouldn’t be the same without the perfectly appropriate song by Survivor. The film and its music both became worldwide hits. Survivor’s “Eye Of The Tiger” is still played today in a number of sports stadiums as a motivational anthem.
Which film music or soundtrack is your favourite? Tell us in the comments!