Thursday, July 11, 2013


After reviewing a posting I did yesterday, titled "70s Space: 1999 and 60s Italian Space Opera" (here), I read up on the Italian Space Operetta Scontri stellari oltre la terza dimensione (English-language release title: Starcrash) and was reminded of star composer John Barry's relationship to the camp semi-classic.

As is normally the case when contracting a film composer, Mr. Barry was hired before the film was completed. I say this because the flick's special visual effects footage, which was being worked on right up to the "last minute", was obviously below par -- now that a certain film had set the new bar for Space Adventures -- and the producers of The Adventures of Stella Star (the English working-title) were understandably nervous about Barry's reaction to those shots: As the composer is one of the first people to see the completed, or close-to-completed, film with fresh eyes it would make sense that he or she would be taken aback by less-than-stellar visual effects.

So, here's what the producers decided to do to circumvent John Barry's possible "what did I get myself into?" reaction; one that could crash his spirits, affecting the quality of his own work: When it came time to spot the film with the composer they said something like, "these effects shots are just slugs for now, until the real effects are ready to be cut in".

I sometimes wonder if Barry did know what was going on; when you listen to his score it sounds as though it was done on auto-pilot. Throughout his career, the composer occasionally seemed to 'loop' his music, as though he had a bank of "John Barry-sounding scores" ready to apply to almost any film -- the Starcrash score does come across as a little too nondescript.

Starcrash is not a bad movie, all things considered.

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