An epic, special-effects-laden SF/fantasy set in the mould of the Arthurian quest for honour and justice on a distant planet, 1983's Krull was a highly anticipated production on a large and enthralling scale. A couple of years earlier, genre-fans had been positively inundated with imaginative and visceral offerings with the likes of Dragonslayer, Conan The Barbarian, Excalibur, The Sword And The Sorcerer, The Beastmaster and The Dark Crystal amongst others. All have since become cult classics even if their initial releases fell rather flat from a commercial perspective. The darker, more mature elements of some of these films was a vital, though, at the time, unwelcome trend. It seemed that audiences wanted their fantasy films comic-book, set-piece and purely escapist. And so it was that Peter Yates (Bullitt/The Deep), working from a screenplay by Stanford Sherman, directed a crash-bang adventure yarn that flung together in one extravagant melting-pot the stalwart valour of chivalric knights, cosmic mayhem in the guise of an alien invasion force lorded-over by a monstrous demon, giant spectral crystal spiders, omens, visions and sorcery, a beautiful princess incarcerated in an evil fortress that can teleport all over the place and a mystical weapon of spellbinding power wielded by a champion who is pure of heart. It certainly had everything that fans of the genre could hope to see on the big screen – a dash of Tolkien, light-shows akin to Star Wars, a dashing hero in the guise of Ken Marshall's Errol Flynn-clone, Prince Colwyn, plentiful action, immense sets (ten soundstages taken up at Pinewood Studios) and an innocent and charming sense of the fabulous writ large and lavish across the screen. It also demanded a suitably heraldic and rapturous score in the furious, all-encompassing style of the swashbuckling themes of Korngold, the might and magic of Herrmann's music for Ray Harryhausen and the wild, sweeping romance of Steiner.
The final film, however, did not meet with the type of response that Yates and Columbia Pictures had envisaged. Despite a supporting cast that included Liam Neeson, Freddie Jones, Alun Armstrong, Carry On's Bernard Bresslaw (as a Cyclops) and Francesca Annis (who was just about to journey to stars again for Dune along with Jones) as the tragic Widow of the Web, a purely wooden performance from Marshall (who actually looks more Noel Edmunds than Errol Flynn!), some lacklustre set-pieces, woeful comedy and the transparent inspiration of Star Wars detracted from the visual splendours on offer and Krull ultimately flopped. It has since attained a cult following, and remains one of those nostalgic “could-have-beens” or “near-misses” that the Fantasy genre, more than any other, seems to breed. One thing that critics and audiences all agreed on, though, was that the score was a belter and lifted the film time and time again out of the doldrums of the performances and the clichés of the plot. If anything, the music for Yates' movie is its saving grace. Without it, the yarn would be akin to an indulgent school pantomime – well-intentioned, filled with ambition, but utterly lacking heart and soul in the rather crucial departments of script and acting.
By this time, composer James Horner had already become something of a bon-vivente of fantasy film-scoring. With time spent working for Roger Corman (Humanoids From The Deep and the great Battle Beyond The Stars), a phenomenal baton-change from Jerry Goldsmith for Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan, which immediately became a signature piece for the composer, sundry horror scores for Oliver Stone's The Hand and Michael Wadleigh's excellent adaptation of Whitley Streiber's novel, Wolfen, and the dark Americana of Disney's Something Wicked This Way Comes, he was carving a niche for himself that sold his talents as a distinctive voice that was uniquely melodic, exciting and often incredibly haunting. He was able to bring all this, and more, to Peter Yates' luxurious and fan-cherished galactic swashbuckler. It is probably important to note that Horner and Yates would have been aware that even if those earlier forays into dark cinematic fantasy hadn't been as successful as their producers had hoped for, their music had been colossally popular and revered. Thus, with Basil Poledouris' classic primal barbarism for Conan, Alex North's brooding thematic religio-savage struggle for Dragonslayer and Trevor Jones' mesmerising fate-entwined artistry for The Dark Crystal all clashing with one another in the back of his mind, Horner would have felt the pressure to conjure up something just as magical and indomitable.
And he certainly succeeded with what ranks alongside Star Trek II as one of his most beloved early scores.
Although this is some way down the line from its long-awaited re-release, it gives me great pleasure to discuss what Horner brought to the colourful and fabulous canvas that Yates unfurled in the wake of Lucas' Star Wars phenomenon game-changer and those aforementioned sword and sorcery escapades in this 2-disc edition of the “complete” score for Krull, sumptuously produced and packaged by La-La Land Records in a limited worldwide run of 3000 copies. Previously available some years ago in an even more limited form from Southern Cross that almost immediately sold out, the score swiftly became one of collectors' Holy Grails, with the original set regularly fetching ridiculously high prices. This edition pretty much replicates an even later incarnation from Super Tracks (1998), albeit with slightly cleaner, more vibrant sound (especially when it comes to the harps and a fuller sounding bass) and some additional bonus tracks, including one nice cue from the film called Vella that the earlier discs kept omitting. Collectors have argued back and forth over which version was the best. SC's interpretations were undoubtedly excellent “album” presentations, and certainly featured the best elements of Horner's score. Super Tracks was the first to offer the full score in chronological order, and La-La Land does this again, retaining the same liner notes from Jeff Bond in a finely illustrated booklet. All editions have been snapped-up quickly and rabidly, as you would expect, but if you have one of the earlier editions, then you still possess Horner's barnstorming score without the essential need to upgrade to this set. But, of course, if you have none, then I would very seriously urge you to seek La-La-Land's fantastic package out. It's still available on Amazon!
Horner's penchant for big, complex cues that told massive stories in their own right was brought vividly to the fore straight away in the opening tracks, and then on throughout a score that would rarely pause for breath. As dynamic and fresh a voice as Horner so abundantly was, the composer was also something of an old school engineer in the way that he crafted strong thematic melodies that could be turned through a myriad of permutations depending on the required mood and the action seen on-screen, and his colourful and ebullient desire to spread music over a film almost wall-to-wall. Even after the few, but memorable scores he had delivered by the time he joined Krull, Horner was known for his lush and stirring approach, a huge and expansive sound that brought in the entire orchestra and revelled in sweeping elegiac passion and pounding, adrenaline-pumping aggression. He would experiment with different styles over the ensuing decades, from all-out ethnic collages in The New World and Apocalypo to the minimalist hypnotism of House Of Cards and Extreme Close-Up, but his sense of anvil-clanging heroism and swirling, tempestuous adventure would only ever be a film away. Revered and reviled at the same time, Horner is, unavoidably, a prodigious self-plagiarist. As much as I adore his material, I cannot deny this and, equally, as much as I will continue to sing his praises, I know that there are a great many people out there who will never forgive him for this. But, hey, if you like his music, it is already pretty much a given that you will like practically any score that he comes up with.
Krull has many immediately identifiable traits and motifs. Star Trek II is naturally a starting point, with its villainous tribal rhythms, furious metal-percussion volleys, soaring and celestial string laments and raucous brassy broadsides all featuring prominently here. Lurching, stabbing belches of pure dread rise and fall as they did in Wolfen. Eerie dissonance and melodic emotion vie for supremacy in much the same way as they do in Brainstorm. And you can spot the thematic foundations of what would come in Aliens in the rousing figures of clashing percussion and driving brass and horns. But does any of this familiarity hamper the score? Not at all. Where someone like Hans Zimmer, a lot of whose work I do admire (Gladiator/Black Hawk Down/The Dark Knight/Sherlock Holmes), and his endless minions, can churn out dense, textural blankets of emotionless, bland synthetics with apparently effortless ease from one project to the next, Horner invests colour, complicated orchestration, inspired writing and vivid layering that quickens the blood, soothes the mind and frequently breaks the heart. He writes with passion and integrity … and if much of his work sounds familiar and generic to his own style (and indeed much of it does), then I feel that this can be ascribed to the composer having found his innate Mojo very early on and simply failed to come up with a single good reason to make many detours from it ever since. In short, what Horner does, works as both a standalone musical construction and as a heartfelt companion to the film it is wrapped around.
Krull contains everything that the composer does so well … and everything that his fans could ever wish for. It is, quite simply, a tremendous and bravura showcase for James Horner's vastly ambitious scope and intricate control over an army of musicians, in this case the London Symphony Orchestra (along with the Ambrosian Singers), who are as swept along with the majesty and beauty of his writing as are we, the captivated listeners. To write about every cue in this score, in-depth, as I would normally want to do, would take days to read, let alone write, so I have chosen, instead, to concentrate upon several separate, though appreciably huge tracks that represent all the elements that have gone into the full, overarching score, bringing in all the richness, all the excitement and all of the incredibly dramatic tale-telling verisimilitude of Horner at his very best and most devoted.
And there is nowhere better to start than with his fascinating and exhausting opening track, Main Title and Colwyn's Arrival. Heaving in over seven-and-a-half minutes' worth of rousing splendour and dark designs, this is a grand and super-charged introduction to mystical and quasi-medieval world of Krull and the demented confrontation that its heroes will have with the black-hearted hordes of the evil Beast after he scuppers the wedding that would bring two warring realms together in peace, and has his nasty “Slayers” make off with the pledged Princess Lyssa (Lysette Anthony) … so that he can take her as a bride, himself. I'm sure there would be much sinister giggling and twirling of moustaches if the Beast wasn't such a rock-faced, satanic-eyed, fang-mawed monstrosity. The princess is whisked away to his infernal fortress, a terrifying edifice that is able to teleport from one location to another, making Prince Colwyn's rescue mission just that little bit more difficult.
After an ethereal opening passage of choral enchantment from the female sopranos of the Ambrosian Singers that skates over a low, ominous tone – a soaring siren-call that will bookend the film and the score like destiny's own glistening serenade, and come to denote the power of the mysterious five-pointed spinning dagger that will ultimately save the day, the Glaive - Horner's main theme is brought on like a knight in shining armour upon a charging stallion. Regal, proud and instantly hummable, this is the striking and dominant motif that will propel the score. Heard initially in four-note fragments for horns and woodwinds, this gathers pace, heralding the full Krull theme, which follows with a fanfare for brass. One of the most buoyant themes that he has created, this is positively bound-over with romance and adventure and swept along with a surge of uplifting chivalry. You can almost see castle battlements lined with royal trumpeters, and a kaleidoscope of fluttering flags. Brass sears with the vigorous tempo, the fanfare cavorting with unparalleled confidence as the cue develops with the first appearance of Prince Colwyn's theme, which is warm and jubilant, yet fast and stirring, a regal charge that speaks of both impetuousness and stalwart defiance. High strings add a layer of humanity and charm to the strident blurting of the trumpets and the insistent rattling of the drums – commodities that Marshall's bearded ponce utterly lacks with his performance.
Horner then pummels us with another of his important themes, that for the evil Slayers, their world-consuming Lord, and their cosmic Black Fortress. For this, he turns to Holst for a devious and delicious variation on Mars, The Bringer Of War. This is not at all as cheeky as it may sound. The alien Black Fortress has landed upon the surface of Krull and, as the film's voiceover informs us, the Slayers ride out to subjugate it as they have with countless other planets across the galaxy. After a wordless tone from the female voices of the choir, the intimidating martial rhythms for intense percussion rumble and roll, the romance of the earlier section quashed beneath a heavy barrage of bass, trombone and tuba, and harsh, laser-like sweeps from a descending synthesiser effect that could be Horner's homage to Jerry Goldsmith's “blaster-beam” from Star Trek: The Motion Picture. The voices become male at some midway point, suggesting Gregorian chanting and darkness. After other touches of electronica flit about, the mood then changes to one of youthful swagger as Colwyn approaches the castle that houses his bride-to-be, riding across a vast and rugged landscape of high-plains. Horns and woods pirouette in a cloud-burst of noble machismo. In this full-throttle introduction, James Horner has already hit us with a huge armada of themes and motifs, stamping his clear authority over the ensuing drama with dedication and supreme confidence.
This is how he means to go on, as well.
Track 2, The Slayers Attack, is another grandstanding epic that mixes up a whole slew of themes into one enormous cavalcade of pomp, ceremony and all-out action. It begins with what amounts to Horner's take on Princess Leia's theme, a soft and swooning melody for celli and violas that is unashamedly romantic. Once more, the musical evocation of the medieval milieu is peerless – this time speaking of warm meadows, secluded glens and painterly brooks. He brings in chimes and flutes and harp to add a summery cast of sunlight reflected upon water. In the film, we are about to witness the marriage ceremony of Colwyn and Lyssa, but it is only the composer who has us feel anything at all, the actors stiff and unconvincing. Horner's love theme reaches a soaring crescendo that reminds us of the galactic pastoral of Star Trek II. Things are getting too harmonious. Bring on the Slayers, I say! And, hey, Horner is listening … because here they come. A soul-splitting crash from the sizzling synth opens up the attack as the Beast's legion storm the castle, scaling the walls on wires that the visuals struggle to conceal. Thick, chunky ethnic percussion crunches like the shredding of timber. Massive staccato brass hammers at the senses, lent a metallic accent by chimes, signifying the clash of swords and armour as Colwyn and the castle defenders attempt to fight back. That irresistible lurching “dread” motif from Wolfen gouges the musical flesh. Surging retaliation from horns and woods embody the heroic attempts to get the Princess to safety. But, in a fantastic tit-for-tat approach, Horner counters each valiant upswing in the score with a darker, more foreboding parry, until the impressive track swirls and roils to an anguished climax as Colwyn lies battered and wounded amid a castle of the dead … and the Princess has been whisked away to the Beast's domain.
We are only two tracks in, folks, and we're positively exhausted. The themes established in these far-ranging opening tracks will return in a variety of forms throughout the score.
The Glaive theme returns in shimmering earnest in Track 3 as Colwyn, now a King-in-waiting and sworn to win back his lady, climbs a mountain and fishes out the spinning, spectral weapon from a pool of lava in a secret cave. Listen out for the wonderful way in which Horner moves from tinkling piano and preening piccolo to quasi-religious textures and high wailing female sopranos as the quest is undertaken. Darkness and depravity deeply reverberate with hints of incorruptible beauty and innocence from chimes and harp over a quagmire of desolate male voices as Lyssa stumbles, fairytale-like, around the prison of the Black Fortress in Track 5. Harp and electric piano gleam in gorgeous magical cadence in The Walk To The Seer's Cave, and the following track renders us spellbound with bubbling, crystalline effects from the piano, glass percussion and cymbals until ghastly hissing, mournful horns and despairing low chords tear down the optimism of Colwyn's briefly heard theme, as the enormity of the dangers ahead are made clear to him. Horner gets to bustle-about with his rapid-fire brass and horn-filled skirmishing themes in The Battle In The Swamp, in which our hero, together with a ragtag band of outlaws and hangers-on (including a simply daft-looking Robbie Coltrane and a young Tod Carty) confront a Slayer ambush. He magnificently inverts the love-theme with menacing male voices and lonely chimes in Track 9, subduing the heroism of his themes with isolated agitation from brushed low piano and muted harp. Wonderfully dark, yet celestial stuff that evokes from his Indian material from Wolfen. A welcome treat.
Horner-detractors take further note – Track 10's The Changeling brings back that awesome tick-tock suspense build from Kirk's Explosive Reply in Khan, although in far more subdued mode. Harp figures and chimes and ethereal strings create more magic, until a piercing crescendo for trumpets, piccolos and glacial percussion drive high at an alarmingly swift rate. Again, this is lifted from Wolfen, but is perfectly in-keeping with the voice, the mood and the momentum of Krull.
We now shift over to the highlights of Disc 2. Track numbers recommence from 1.
Mystery and glacial menace are served up in The Widow's Web and The Widow's Lullaby (Tracks 2 and 3) which, together, form the icy and spiritual core of the Krull's score. Alongside Freddie Jones' sage old mentor to Colwyn, Ynyr, we venture into the cave that houses Ynyr's old flame, the Widow Of The Web. We know that something extremely nasty is lurking in here, too, because of Horner's spectacularly ominous and skin-crawling music. We can hear the spooky sound of wind whistling through the cave, created by the soft moaning and wailing of the choir. Their voices waft and undulate, a genuine feeling of cold, dead space and imposing, rustling shadows created. The harp is plucked almost as gently as the gossamer-thin strands a real web, as Ynyr penetrates the domain protected by the great crystal spider, the captor of the Widow. Horner has the mandolin and the dulcimer provide gleaming, feather-light textures that seem to brush against the inner-ear, caressing the listener with an embrace that is anything but comfortable. There is the same edgy suspense generated that would follow the Colonial Marines through the ruins of LV426 in Aliens, a really unnerving passage of floating, wispy dread. Horner is evoking the sensation of moving blindly through a cobweb in the stillness of the night, but he is also going to have to provide impetus for the great spider, itself. Reed-like textures are spun around the cue, a weird whistling penetrating the core as though woven-in from all corners at once. As the monster makes its presence felt and begins to climb across the mighty web towards the intruder, the music becomes surging and aggressive. A paralysing snare of blasting brass signifies its horrifying approach, and then Horner's patented metallic screeching whips out us. As Ynyr beseeches the Widow in her cocoon-cell in the centre of the web and she allows him the time from the hour-glass to reach her, we hear a pipe-organ and swirling strings. Clamorous anvil-clashes reverberate as the spider temporarily halts its attack, but once the sands have run out, the creature recommences its shuddersome climb down the web towards the scurrying Ynyr. Horner had already evoked the menace of monstrous creep-crawlies in Something Wicked This Way Comes, and he would do again in Aliens and Honey, I Shrunk The Kids. The atmosphere of utter phobic terror is tremendously well-wrought. In the film the spider is actually quite beautiful – a near-transparent thing composed of mesmerising, hairless crystal – and, were it not for Horner's dread-filled music, the scene would be considerably less effective. Gleaming textures for celli, sustained strings, low murmuring woods and sopranos bring the track to a fading close.
In The Widow's Lullaby, Horner transforms the dread of the previous cue into a soothing, cocoon-like moan for strings and choir that shimmers like the sparkling of the stars. Ynyr has managed to reach the silken cell and now meets with his long-lost paramour, played by Francesca Annis. The feeling of age, of an undying love and of a deep guilt and regret so old that its pain has become a thing of curious beauty lightly smothers the piece as the siren call from the score's opening returns in a softer, more meandering form. The two lost lovers compare their heart-entwined destiny with that of the story's main characters, and reach a fateful yet redemptive decision. Scintillating harp provides a delicate and glassy echo of tranquillity. Woodwinds reflect on what once was … and mourn what can now never be. Horner ladles on the bittersweet agonies of the reunion and the knowledge that it is doomed with swirling, heart-heavy strings, but doesn't forget that something fearsome is still lurking in the vicinity. With a heart-lurching rush of brass and brushing reed, and a vague scuttling of metal percussion, the presence of the sentinel spider and its grim job is brought crashing back to our attention. The mighty and unstoppable rush of its attack, as Ynyr makes good his escape by virtue of the Widow's self-sacrifice, is rammed-home with riotous, barrelling discord. His own salvation comes at a cost, however. As he delivers to Colwyn the location of the Black Fortress, the sands of time run out for him, and Horner entreats to a soothing eulogy in Track 4, Ynyr's Death.
Ride Of The Firemares sees the band cover the immense distance to the Black Fortress atop majestic supernatural stallions who can race at phenomenal speeds to catch the Beast's stronghold before it magically relocates again with the onset of dawn. Actually riding impressive Clydesdales, this is where Horner allows his main theme to really soar in its most hopeful, rousing and optimistic rendition. Brass sprints over the top of clashing cymbals, strings slice and saw with renewed might, the pace careering at full pelt. Horns, trumpets and tuba get turns to cleave Colwyn's theme through the track, the speed and adrenaline of the material undeniably preparing you for the battle ahead. Horner impressively mounts the Glaive theme in-amidst all of this headlong rush, providing the orchestra with a bold and bravura work-out. Things will naturally turn darker as the band come upon the place of evil, itself, and race against time to get inside before it vanishes. I love the moment just before the simmering and apprehensive finale of the track when the drums take on a pulsating tribal rhythm, Horner throwing so much activity and variety into the pot.
With blistering urgency, Horner then whips up Colwyn's theme into an ebullient rallying-cry of derring-do. Martial rhythms pound away, strings and furious drums tumbling over one another, as the band infiltrate the Black Fortress in Track 6. The Cyclops sacrifices himself to allow the men entry into the stronghold before it teleports without them. High strings hurdle, trumpets peel out, horns curl and cymbals crash. All that is missing is Errol Flynn. Then Horner reinforces the suspense and dread of the situation, dropping the giddy sense of unstoppable valour with the dark tones of the Beast, and a tiny hint of the Holst-like march of the Slayers who swarm to attack.
Track 7, Inside The Black Fortress combines the spine-tingling with the heroic. This is what Horner does so well – massive set-pieces that simply rocket along with a variety of themes colliding and rushing headlong towards a powerful shock-wave of a conclusion. His style may seem like overkill to some, but as I have said before, this is a wonderful hearkening-back to the old standards of Korngold, Steiner and Rosza. Fierce bass and percussion thumps beneath the surging rhythms, the Holst-like structure of the Slayers' theme locked in combat with the rousing nature of Colwyn's crusading motif. Listen out for the clanging of a bell, which provides a fantastic ecclesiastical counterpoint to the breathless rushing of the battle material. Swishes of electronica enhance the fierce slashing of the strings. Male voices murmur beneath a tempest of low brass, the track then giving way to a dark and twisted passage of dread as individuals amongst the band fight their own gallant last-stands, or become trapped in the Beast's perilous enclave.
The piercing high-pitched brass notes that hammer in pulverising succession against thick, low chords at the start of Track 8 will instantly ignite memories of Khan and the Reliant roaring over the top of the wounded Enterprise in Star Trek II. The epic cue then curls like fingers of flame through a musical labyrinth that drops into frightened reverie, climbs back up again for brutal salvos of brass and string-led action, bows down before the return of the love theme, heard now with earnest, danger-surrounded energy, crumbles beneath lashing synth swipes and colossal cymbal crescendos, before rising again to the pulse of the church bell, cimbalom, electric organ and the infectious, muscle-spiking roar of resounding brass. Colwyn finds and frees Lyssa and, with much spinning of the Glaive, appears to fell the Beast. Down but not out, the evil Lord (so shoddily designed in the film that we only see him as a mist-obscured and photographically distorted shape) lures Colwyn in for the kill, the price he must pay for some truly astonishingly bad acting, but true love wins out as our hero manages to summon-up some kingly fire of his own, enough to finally vanquish the villain once and for all. As the Black Fortress collapses around their ears, our heroes make good their escape to Horner's pounding drums and a series of knife-edge fanfares. Gradually, the sense of victory and survival filters through the music as the band struggle out of the ruins … and the track then roils to a climax of willow-wisp brass and wailing vocals.
The Epilogue And End Titles returns the glimmering phrase of the Glaive and softly swirls and serenades the victors. Ethereal vocals swell in the background, and then Horner allows his main theme to ride back in triumph. A final version of the love theme softens things again, the final cue acting like a mini-overture until the siren-call spins it all to a magical close.
Three bonus cues then follow in this presentation. Another rendition of the love theme, for mid-range strings and chimes, an edited version of The Walk To The Seer's Cave, which omits the middle section of the original piece, and a new album arrangement of the Theme From Krull combining elements from the Main and End Titles. Although nice little additions to this release, it is really the extended tracks and extra cues that go to create the complete score that makes this release so desirable.
Without a doubt, Yates' film is elevated hugely by James Horner's score. Without it, Krull would simply be laughable.
Horner would return to similar territory with Willow (1988) which was actually a far worse worse fantasy film than Krull, and then again with productions such as Jumanji (1995) and The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008) His wonderful motifs and melodic beauty would all become trademarks. The anvil-clanging ferocity would see service aboard James Cameron's Titanic and on the 3D world of Avatar, the splendid and uniquely moving woodwind and string passages would break the heart in Gory, The Man Without A Face and Legends Of The Fall, and the full-on brass flourishes would become familiar fanfares in virtually everything from Thunderheart and Braveheart to Windtalkers and Troy and The Karate Kid. He would also work with Yates on another project in the same year as Krull, the Oscar-nominated drama, The Dresser.
A classy release of a powerful and exhilarating score from someone who was clearly a master-in-the-making. La-La-Land's incredible double-disc release of Krull comes extremely highly recommended. I certainly cannot say the same thing about the film, though.
Full Track Listing
Main Title And Colwyn's Arrival 4.34
The Slayers Attack 9.18
Quest For The Glaive 7.23
Ride To The Waterfall 0.53
Lyssa In The Fortress 1.28
The Walk To The Seer's Cave 4.10
The Seer's Vision 2.18
The Battle In The Swamp 2.39
The Changeling 4.04
Leaving The Swamp 1.58
The Widow's Web 6.18
The Widow's Lullaby 5.01
Ynyr's Death 1.41
Ride Of The Firemares 5.22
Battle On The Parapets 2.53
Inside The Black Fortress 6.13
The Death Of The Beast And The Destruction Of The Black Fortress 8.31
Epilogue And End Title 4.52
Colwyn And Lyssa Love Theme 2.35
The Walk To The Seer's Cave (Album Edit) 2.16
Theme From Krull 4.48
Total Running Time 99.39
I can't recommend the score for Krull enough. Far better realised and accomplished than the film, itself, this is thunderously exciting stuff that strides confidently from passages of lush romantic adventure to those that are darkly sinister and infused with foreboding, yet always buoyed-along with magic, mystery and that haunting, wistful melancholy that would become a mainstay of the composer's work. James Horner was pulling out all the stops with this one, his biggest and grandest commission to date. He took sweeping, motific elements from his seminal Trek voyage, hypnotic musings and ominous dread from Wolfen and blended them all together in a rich orchestral tapestry that provided the heroic backbone and spiritual fervour that the film's performances frequently denied it.
The score has seen several releases over the years, and they have all been worthwhile, but this one sounds to me, at least, the best of the bunch. La-La Land reissue the splendid Super Tracks set, together with the excellent booklet of notes from Jeff Bond, but they add some little extra cues and slightly improved sound. For Horner fans, Krull is indispensable as a groundbreaking and ravishing fantasy score in its own right, but it is also a terrific catchment of the composer's early ideas and thematic material that would go on to serve him so well throughout a career that has become packed with instantly recognisable classics.
La-La Land have unveiled some great double-discers lately – a duo from Danny Elfman of Batman and Batman Returns, and especially Basil Poledouris' Conan The Barbarian – and Krull sits very comfortably alongside them as a extravagant set that simply demands repeat playing.
Horribly limited it may be, but there are still copies out there. Seek them out.
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