Home > Reviews > BABY: SECRET OF THE LOST LEGEND – Jerry Goldsmith


babysecretofthelostlegendTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

In my review of Supergirl earlier in this series, I remarked how a number of Jerry Goldsmith scores are essentially ‘parallel universe’ scores, inferior versions of films John Williams scored. From the late 1970s through the mid 1990s, Goldsmith wrote a lot of great music for some truly awful movies, and if you look at his filmography during that period, you can see the pattern developing: where John Williams had Superman, Goldsmith had Supergirl; as Williams had Raiders of the Lost Ark, so Goldsmith had King Solomon’s Mines; and so on. Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend is basically Goldsmith’s Jurassic Park, eight years before Steven Spielberg broke all box office records with his dinosaur movie. It’s a family adventure directed by Bill L. Norton, starring William Katt, Sean Young, Patrick McGoohan and (inexplicably) Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes in an early acting role; it tells the story of Susan and George Loomis, a paleontologist and her husband, who discover a mother and baby brontosaurus in Africa, and try to protect them from hunters who want to capture them.

Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend was not a good film by anyone’s measure, taking just $14 million at the box office when it was released in the spring of 1985, and few people remember it today. Nevertheless, the score was one of Goldsmith’s favorites of his own, and it’s not difficult to see why: basically, the score is an enticing blend of the buccaneering orchestral adventure music heard in things like The Wind and the Lion, mixed with some experimental synth ideas from the period, and some early examples of the percussive African tribal music Goldsmith would later go on to perfect in scores like The Ghost and the Darkness and Congo. As was the case on far too many occasions throughout his career, the score is much, much better than the film deserved.

After a few moments of generally unremarkable build up in the opening pair, “The Sketch” and “No Problem,” which combine bassy synth notes with light, percussive ethnic ideas, the score first comes to life in “The Visitors,” an evocative piece, filled with mystery and wonder, which is augmented by all manner of expressive electronic textures and ideas. At the time Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend was written Goldsmith was in the middle of a phase whereby he was trying out a vast array of watery, unique-sounding electronic effects to give his scores different, occasionally quite alien-sounding sonics, and this score’s electronic ideas fit in with those heard in contemporaneous works such as Legend and Gremlins, as well as later works like Medicine Man.

The first performance of the score’s majestic, powerful main theme appears in “The Family,” a heraldic, fanfare-style brass piece that accompanies the first appearance of the film’s dinosaurs, and thereafter acts as a leitmotif for the concept of the dinosaurs, and often plays in relation to the myopic zeal of the brutal hunter played by McGoohan, and his obsession with bagging his greatest trophy. The orchestral accents, busy and complicated string and woodwind writing augmented by chattering percussion, is prototypical Goldsmith; this then segues into a more child-like theme for the baby dinosaur specifically, a jaunty and playful piece for synths and woodwinds.

These three core ideas – the Dinosaur theme, the Baby theme, and the African electronic motifs – dominate the rest of the score as it progresses, counterpointing against each other in different ways, and developing new emotional nuances as the film dictates. In “Dad,” for example, the Dinosaur theme reaches quite anguished heights, with emotionally heightened cello lines taking over from brass at the most poignant moments. In that same cue, extended performances of Baby’s theme accompany scenes of the infant dino frolicking in the waters of the Congo River, bonding with the human scientists that will soon become his most important friends. Later, “Tears” presents a haunting performance of Baby’s theme on heartbroken woodwinds, while “Dragon Breath” oscillates between more tender performances of Baby’s theme and the impressionistic electronic ideas that convey the teeming life of the jungle.

These themes weave in and around several cues of excellent action material, notably the aforementioned “Dad,” and later at the end of “The Search” and in the wonderful “The Jump”. Goldsmith uses whooping, prominent brass calls, leaping around from horns to trombones and back, which are bolstered by surging, unusually-metered rhythmic ideas in the percussion, and staccato electronic pulses to drive the action forward. Some of the music here is unexpectedly brutal for a children’s film, and admirers of works like The Mummy, The Thirteenth Warrior, the second and third Rambo scores, and, as I mentioned before, The Wind and the Lion, will find a lot of the action material here greatly to their liking.

The score’s finale blends the action material, the jungle material, the powerful Dinosaur theme and the emotional Baby theme together into a satisfying climax; the lovely sentimental oboe rendition of the Dinosaur theme in “Base Camp Attack” is a surprisingly tender prelude to a restatement of the action rhythms from “The Jump,” while in “The Rescue” there is a magnificent juxtaposed performance of the Dinosaur theme on rampant, massively clustered brass while the strings restate the action motif in counterpoint, which stands as an album highlight. The seven-minute conclusive cue, “Just a Legend,” revisits all the score’s most important musical ideas as part of an all-encompassing suite, climaxing with the most powerful performance of the Dinosaur theme as the end credits roll to a close.

For a long time the score for Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend was one of the most sought–after Goldsmith scores, having only previously been available on the legendary Society for the Preservation of Film Music Tribute to Jerry Goldsmith album, and as a re-recorded suite on several Silva Screen compilations. Intrada Records’s 2007 release is an essential part of any serious Goldsmith admirer’s collection; although it was limited to 3,000 copies and is now sold out, anyone finding a copy of it on the secondary market is urged to snap it up immediately.

Buy the Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend soundtrack from the Movie Music UK Store

Track Listing:

  • The Sketch (0:44)
  • No Problem (0:44)
  • The Visitors (2:27)
  • New Friends #1 (1:17)
  • New Friends #2 (0:33)
  • The Family (4:04)
  • Dad (7:10)
  • Tears (1:25)
  • The Tent (2:53)
  • Dragon Breath (6:48)
  • The Search (3:09)
  • The Jump (4:31)
  • The Captives (2:01)
  • Base Camp Assault (4:15)
  • The Rescue (3:37)
  • Just a Legend (7:31)

Running Time: 53 minutes 18 seconds

Intrada Records SCV-62 (1985/2007)

Music composed and conducted by Jerry Goldsmith. Orchestrations by Arthur Morton. Recorded and mixed by Shawn Murphy. Edited by Ken Hall. Score produced by Jerry Goldsmith. Album produced by Douglass Fake.

  1. May 7, 2015 at 3:11 am

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