Home > Reviews > THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE – Max Steiner

THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE – Max Steiner

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Warner Brothers Studio executives saw the success of Paramount Studio’s Lives of a Bengal Lancer in 1935 and decided to cash in on the British Empire Adventure Tales genre. It was decided that their vehicle would be a retelling of the epic charge of the Light Brigade during the Crimean War. Screenplay writer Michael Jacoby’s script for the story found favor with the studio and was purchased, although Rowland Leigh was brought in to make some edits. Samuel Bischoff and Hal Wallis were given the reigns to produce the film with a generous $1.33 million budget. Michael Curtiz was tasked with directing and a stellar cast was assembled, including Errol Flynn as Major Geoffrey Vickers, Olivia de Havilland as Elsa Campbell, Patric Knowles as Captain Perry Vickers, Henry Stephensen as Sir Charles Macefield, Nigel Bruce as Sir Benjamin Warrenton, Donald Crisp as Colonel Campbell, David Niven as Captain Randall, Robert Barrat as Count Igor Volonoff, and C. Henry Gordon as Surat Khan.

The film opens in the city of Chukoti in colonial India circa 1854 where Geoffrey and his brother Perry are stationed. Geoffrey does not know that his brother Perry has betrayed him by stealing the love of his fiancé Elsa. By chance Geoffrey saves the life of the rajah Surat Khan during a hunting expedition, which earns his eternal gratitude. When most of the British garrison for Chukoti is transferred to Lahore. Surat Khan sees opportunity and lays siege to Chukoti with a massive army. Colonel Campbell, the British Commander surrenders to avoid a massacre only to have Khan betray him by massacring his soldiers and his family. Geoffrey and Elsa are spared by Khan as payment of his life debt to Geoffrey, but Geoffrey never forgets and from this point on resolves to avenge the death of his comrades. A shift to Crimea and the battle of Balaclava affords the opportunity Geoffrey has sought in that Surat Khan is inspecting the Russian troops, with whom he has allied. Geoffrey replaces official orders to withdraw the Light Brigade, instead ordering the epic charge. The charge is valiant and succeeds in overrunning the Russian lines, but with the decimation of the 600 lancers of the Light Brigade. Geoffrey avenges his comrades by slaying Surat Khan, but forfeits his life in the process. The film resonated with the public and was a commercial success, earning $2.76 million or twice its production cost of $1.33 million. It also secured three Academy Award nomination for Best Assistant Director, Best Sound and Best Film Score, winning one for Best Assistant Director.

Warner Brothers was committed to supporting the film with a robust musical score and hired Ernst Toch who had gained renown with his fine effort with Peter Ibbetson the previous year. However, his employment was short-lived as he was sacked when studio executives were informed that Max Steiner was interested in the scoring assignment. This would be Steiner’s debut with Warner Brothers, and the success of this film score led to a long-term contract that blossomed into a three-decade collaboration with over 100 films. Steiner understood that he would have to speak to setting, incorporating British, Indian and Russian sensibilities into the fabric of his score, replete with national anthems, fanfares and marches. He would employ leitmotifs to underpin his score, using a multiplicity of fine themes including; Geoffrey’s/British Army Theme, which serves as his personal identity, but also on a transpersonal level the British army. Martial drums and proud horn declarations empower this classic military anthem, which abounds with pride and heroism. The theme is quite malleable and expressed as both an anthem, and a marica militare. Surat’s Theme supports our villain and abounds with malevolence. Yet it also has a transpersonal expression, as it serves as the identity of Suristani warriors. It’s simple construct is exotic, always rendered darkly in the lowest register served as the perfect foil to the British identities. This theme is also versatile as we hear it during battles scenes transformed into a harsh war anthem. Elsa’s Theme serves not only as her identity, but also as a Love Theme for her and Perry. As the score’s only feminine construct it Steiner imbued it with gentility, beauty and elegant romanticism. When provided an extended exposition it provides some of the scores most cherished moments. Lastly, the Charge Theme is emblematic to British military traditions and empowers her cavalry with martial strength, pride and resoluteness. It is essentially a marcia militare and the way Steiner changes its tempo to match the advancing cavalry is astounding.

“Main Title” offers a powerful score highlight, which showcases Steiner’s mastery of his craft. As the Warner Brothers logo fills the screen a grand, exultant martial ascent carries us ever upwards, transitioning at 0:21 to a statement of “Rule Britannia” as we see a monument commemorating the victorious Light Brigade, followed by script praising Alfred Lord Tennyson’s epic poem. At 0:40 a succession of ascending, proud martial declarations usher in the film title and roll of the opening credits empowered again by the martial horn declarations. We transition to a proud trumpet propelled British Theme rendered as a marcia militare as script informs us that the film is loosely historical and largely, fictitious. We enter the film proper at 2:04 upon a diminuendo of the march, which supports a convoy of British Lancers escorting envoy Sir Humphrey Harcourt to a diplomatic mission at Suristan. At 2:32 we segue into “Palace of Surat Khan” atop horns sinistre, which resound with the ornate and ethnic Surat’s Theme as we see the palace of Surat Khan in the background. The theme interplays with a confident rendering of the British March providing a sharp juxtaposition as the Humphrey and British officers are escorted to an audience with the Khan. In “Dispensing with Formalities” the Khan ends the formal audience and escorts Sir Humphrey to engage in a private chat. Sir Humphrey informs the Khan that the annual British stipend will cease, given the death of Surat’s father. Surat remains cordial yet within his words are sown seeds of displeasure and veiled threats. Steiner supports the scene with a rich ethnic piece full of ethnic Indian auras.

“A Brilliant Shot” reveals Surat hosting the British to a leopard hunt. Ethnic drums drive the hunt in the film, but the album cue does not begin until a mishap results in Surat being thrown from his elephant to the ground. Tense strings sound the alarm as he is dragged by the spooked elephant, ascending with dire urgency as he struggles to cut himself free. A horrific crescendo of terror rises as we see him laying unarmed and helpless as a leopard prepares to pounce from a tree. The crescendo crests fiercely at 0:35 as the leopard pounces only to be shot mid leap by Geoffrey’s expert shot. As Geoffrey rushes to the Khan a confident rendering of his theme carries his progress. As Surat expresses his eternal gratitude Geoffrey’s Theme warms and bonds the two men as they shake hands. The music in the film ends at 1:09 as the scene change to British Lancers arriving at Chukoti was edited out of the film. The excised music is dynamic, robust and features classic trumpet fanfare declarations, and martial snare drums percussion, which transition to a proud march militare as we envision the Lancers marching into Chukoti. “Little Prema and Geoffrey” was excised from the film. It was intended to support Geoffrey’s introduction the Prema, a young boy from a Sapoy family in Chukoti. A playful, animated and racing construct joins to interplay with Geoffrey’s Theme as the two evidently became acquainted.

“Soldiers on Parade” was also excised from the film. It was intended to support Lancers on parade in Chukoti. British trumpeting fanfare usher in and support a more reserved rendering of the martia militare. “Calcutta” supports a scene change to British Army Headquarters in Calcutta where we see Colonel Campbell riding in a carriage with his daughter Elsa. We open with ornate Indian auras, which transition with a diminuendo of soft strings to a delightful string born piece by strings delicato and solo violin, which supports the intimate father daughter scene. “Perry and Elsa” offers tender score highlight where Steiner introduces his Love Theme. The music supports a revelatory garden scene where Geoffrey’s brother Perry and Elsa inform us that they are in love. They agree to break the bad news to Geoffrey, hoping that he will understand. At 0:41 a prelude full of grace and gentility ushers in the Love Theme, adorned with sparkling glockenspiel and harp glissandi, which unfolds with a beautiful romantic exposition. “Brothers Reunited” was dialed out of the film. We see Geoffrey arriving, eager to find Elsa, and brushing off Perry’s attempt to inform him of their relationship. A warm rendering of Geoffrey’s Theme carries his progress, yet ends sadly as Perry fails in his mission. “At the Lancers’ Ball” reveals a festive ball showcasing the dances of the time, which Steiner elegantly supports with a danza spiritoso. At 2:29 horns sinistre declarations of Surat Khan’s Theme announce his arrival with Russian Count Volonov, and unsettling development for the British. As Sir Humphrey and Geoffrey welcome them the danza spiritoso interplays with Surat’s Theme, now transformed into a danza malevola a compelling juxtaposition.

“Elsa’s Waltz” offers a score highlight filled with passion and conflicting emotions. Elsa and Perry are dancing together and it is apparent to us and some at the ball that there is something between them. Steiner supports their intimacy with the Love Theme transformed into a lovely valzer romantico. They exit the ballroom to a terrace where Perry declares his love. As he prepares to kiss her, the music builds passionately to climax, only to be severed at 3:00 by the arrival of Elsa’s father. He admonishes Perry, orders him to leave and counsels Elsa to remain true to her engagement to Geoffrey. A plaintive rendering of her theme entwines with Geoffrey’s Theme as she appears to succumb to her father’s insistence that she remain true. In “Ballroom Waltz” Geoffrey finally catches up with Elsa and takes her to the dance floor, which Steiner supports with a classic valzer grazioso. The music is not romantic and we sense some subtle tension in the notes as he opens up to her and declares his love. “Geoffrey Warns Perry” supports a pivotal scene where Perry discloses his love for Elsa, which elicits disbelief and anger from Geoffrey. Discord supports the revelation, which ushers in swelling anger born by Geoffrey’s Theme. Harsh words are exchanged, and as Perry departs, Geoffrey is shaken and we close with uncertainty upon his theme.

In “Geoffrey Bids Farewell” as he arrives at the Campbell residence to say his goodbyes, he is carried by a confident rendering of his theme. Steiner provides a beautifully embellished romantic piece replete with a portentous fragment of Mendelssohn’s Wedding March as he speaks of a bright future. The music is tender, yearning, clearly emoting from his perspective, and incongruous with Elsa’s duplicity. As he departs, a happy and confident rendering of his theme carries his progress. At 2:56 we segue into “Trek to Buy Horses” carried by horns bravura and martial snare drums emoting his theme, replete with exotic Arabic woodwinds as we see him leading a party to purchase Arabian horses. His theme transforms into a marcia militare as he procures hundreds of horses.

“I’d Rather Hoped for Some Action!” offers the scores first action set piece as Geoffrey and his men are ambushed by hostile tribesmen. He saves the day with a clever deception, which causes the tribesmen to flee after feigning the arrival of more British troops. Steiner whips his orchestra into frenzy and introduces an exotic Arabic Theme empowered by trombones barbaro, which contests with the martial snare drum propelled and trumpet declared British constructs. As Geoffrey saves the day and the tribesmen flee, we witness a ferocious crescendo, which is severed at 3:10 as Geoffrey’s horse is shot from under him by friendly fire. A warm and confident rendering of his theme carries him back to his men. At 3:36 Rule Britannia carries his return to British Army Headquarters in Calcutta. “On to Chukoti” reveals the brothers departing for the frontier – Geoffrey to Chukoti to join Colonel Campbell and Elsa, and Perry to Lohara. The British March carries their progress as Geoffrey tries to reconcile only to be rebuffed by Perry. At 1:26 the rest of the cue was dialed out of the film, replaced with music from cue #3 beginning at 1:10. For the excised music of this cue, bugle calls at 1:26 signal their arrival at Chukoti and a bravado rendering of the British March supports their entry.

In “Prema Tries on a New Salute” the young Sapoy boy runs to Geoffrey whom he idolizes carried by his scurrying theme. As he lifts the boy atop his horse and teaches him a new salute, his theme on muted trumpet supports the tender moment. “Colonel Campbell Annoyed” opens with frustration and anger as the Colonel learns that Elsa has traveled to Lohara to be with Perry. As Geoffrey enters to reunite with Elsa his buoyant theme carries his progress, yet it becomes dispirited and dissipates when he receives the news of Elsa’s departure. At 0:46 we segue into “Lady Warrenton”, where we see the insufferable busy body taking Elsa in while she visits Lohara. Steiner’s music channels Lady Warrenton’s gossip and rapid-fire banter perfectly, with prancing strings and bubbling woodwinds abounding with infectious energy. This cue was masterfully conceived and executed. “In the Garden with Perry” reveals Elsa and Perry sharing a tender moment where they reaffirm their love for each other. Steiner unfurls his Love Theme, now wonderfully embellished for one of its finest exposition in the film, achieving a perfect confluence with the scene’s narrative. At 1:10 we segue into “Convoy Returns” as a convoy of Lancers return to Chukoti with grim news of an imminent attack by Surat Khan. The snare drum propelled pride of the British March carries their progress.

In “Leaving Chukoti Undefended” Colonel Campbell sends the lion share of the Lancers to Lohora for maneuvers despite the rumors of an imminent attack on Chukoti. This leaves Chukoti with insufficient soldiers to defend the post should an attack occur. He is a career officer who blindly follows orders and dismissively overrides Geoffrey’s protests. We open with a grave rendering of Geoffrey’s Theme and a tension crescendo, which ends grimly on timpani as he protests in vain Colonel Campbell’s orders. At 0:41 the purposeful British March builds powerfully as we see the Lancers assemble. Its irresistible rhythms carry their progress as they depart. At 1:42 a grim Surat’s Theme joins as we see Suristani scouts signaling that the Lancers have departed from Chukoti. As the Lancers depart in the distance, the march dissipates as we see Suristani scouts returning to their encampment. At 2:07 a change of scene to Chukoti reveals Geoffrey joining Elsa on a terrace supported by a tender rendering of her theme. We see he loves her as he speaks to their life together in England. As she begins to explain to him why she went to Lohara her theme becomes aching as she prepares to break his heart, yet at the moment she is to inform him the music is severed by a shot, which kills a tower guard.

“Attack of the Suristanis” offers an outstanding action piece with robust thematic interplay, which supports an attack on Chukoti by a massive Suristani army. Their attack is empowered by a resounding Surat’s Theme, now rendered as a war anthem. Interplay with bugle calls and the British Theme is fleeting as Surat’s Theme quickly gains ascendency. An interlude of Elsa’s Theme at 1:15 supports her assisting children flee to safety. An inexorable and relentless drive of Surat’s Theme now dominates the British Theme as the British forces suffer heavy casualties, unable to stop the waves of Suristanis converging on the walls. At 2:40 desperate bugle calls and a grim descent on the now beleaguered British Theme support Campbell’s order to abandon the walls as Surat’s Theme resounds, unstoppable. In “Retreat to the Barracks” the outstanding action music is sustained as the British are routed and retreat for a desperate last stand in their barracks where the women and children have taken refuge. Amidst the fury and chaos, the trumpet propelled British Theme supports the retreat, but there is a rising desperation in the notes. At 1:07 the Suristani flood into the fort carried by a powerful rendering of their theme. At 2:13 a grieving Prema’s Theme is heard as the boy cries over the dead body of his mother. At 2:21 we change scenes carried by the British March to the Lancers riding to Lohara, unaware of the unfolding catastrophe at Chukoti. At 2:47 an eerie diminuendo of uncertainty takes us back to Chukoti as we see a full moon obscured by shifting clouds. The British are tending to their wounded and Steiner sows a sense of doom as Campbell hatches a plan to send Randall out under cover of night to alert the Lancers. At 3:26 a dire statement of Surat’s Theme sounds as Geoffrey and Randall gaze out the window. We close with a sentimental and heartfelt rendering of Rule Britannia, which supports Randall giving his family watch to Geoffrey for safekeeping should he not make it.

“A Chance by Moonlight” reveals Randall stealthily making his way out of the fort to the river. Steiner sows unease and tension with ambient textural writing. As Randall escapes over the wall we shift back to Campbell and Geoffrey, who seek some rest as a beleaguered statement of the British Theme is heard. Later as Randall unties the boat to escape, we end with finality as he is cut down by a sniper’s bullet. In “Surat Khan Proposes a Truce” the British wake to find the fort deserted. The music brightens as the men take in this good fortune. Yet the moment is shattered as Pierce shoots his rifle, panicked by phantoms. As Geoffrey strives to bring him to his senses we crest on a horrific discordant crescendo. An ominous soundscape of uncertainty enters as Campbell orders Geoffrey to the roof to investigate. At 1:32 a grim Surat’s Theme sounds as he sees Surat’s forces have abandoned the fort and a parley party bearing a white flag is approaching. A timpani roll ushers in dramatic music as Campbell orders the men to open up the barracks so he can parley. A rising tension carries the Suristani party’s arrival, and ushers in dire statements of Surat’s Theme as Colonel Campbell is offered a truce, and Major Vickers is requested to negotiate the terms. As Geoffrey departs a confident trumpet declared rendering of his theme carries his progress. In “Treachery under a White Flag” Surat Khan offers terms of safe passage to Lohara with the provision that they lay down their arms. Steiner supports with discord and a grim statement of Surat’s Theme, which informs us of his duplicity. A marching cadence carries Geoffrey back to the fort with Surat’s offer. Campbell overrules Geoffrey, accepts the terms and orders the White flag raised at 0:39, which is supported by a dire ascending crescendo, which crests atop a triumphant rendering of Surat’s Theme. Galloping music supports his men riding to the fort. As the British are gathered up and led to the boats a rhythmic crescendo builds, swelling on a dire accelerando with sinister purpose. As they reach the boats an intense rendering of the British Theme sounds. At 2:23 a dire statement of Surat’s Theme sounds as he orders his men to open fire. As they open fire, a beleaguered sounding of the British Theme supports the chaos and fight for survival.

In “Massacre” the Suristani slaughter not only the soldiers, but women and children as well. Steiner unleashes a cacophony from hell empowered by dire statements of Surat’s Theme as we witness the massacre. At 0:39 a heroic rendering of Geoffrey’s Theme carries his rescue of Elsa. He suffers a flesh wound but manages to swim with Elsa to safety. At 0:57 we segue into “A Debt Is Paid” atop Surat’s Theme as he confides to Volonov that his life debt to Vickers is now paid in full. His now horrific and discordant theme resounds as he orders the survivors be driven into the fort. At 1:21 we change scenes to Elsa tending to Geoffrey’s wounds supported by a desperate ascent on her theme as she is implores Geoffrey to save the children. By chance they recover a raft, board it, and are carried downstream to Lohara. We close at 2:00 with a march of death as the women and children are forced into the barracks while Campbell and his soldiers are left in the courtyard. The music warms and takes on religioso auras as Campbell reassures his men by reading scripture. At 2:31 trumpets resound as Geoffrey and Elsa’s raft arrives at Lohara. We conclude with a furioso, which gives rise to Geoffrey’s Theme and later Elsa’s Theme as they are brought to General Warrenton. At 3:12 as Warrenton debriefs Geoffrey and they discuss the fate of the hostages, repeating grim statements of Surat’s Theme sound over tremolo strings, portending their doom “Rescue Troops to Chukoti” opens with a bugle call to arms as Warrenton orders the Lancers to assemble and march to Chukoti. Steiner unleashes a tempest buttressed by martial fanfare and the British Theme as the troops assemble. As the ride furiously to Chokuti intense galloping music propels them ever forward as a rising counter trumpet line imparts urgency. At 2:28 a horrific crescendo of agony resounds and ushers in a lament as they discover the fort is deserted with hundreds of corpses strewn across the grounds.

In “They’re Dead! They’re All Dead!” the men make the grim discovery that every inhabitant has been murdered. Strings affanato support a painful, aching lamentation as soldiers find the bodies of their dead wives and Prema’s father finds his wife and Prema dead. At 1:23 a solo trumpet sounds to mark the grim discovery of Colonel Campbell and officer’s bodies found, having been killed by a firing squad. Anger swells and Surat’s Theme joins as the men swear to avenge the death of their comrades. At 2:07 martial trumpets resound as script informs us of the onset of the Crimean War. The British Theme and Rue Britannia join as Britain mobilizes its Indian troops for transfer to Sebastopol to engage the Russians. In an unscored scene Sir Charles Macefield informs Geoffrey that the transfer of the Light Brigade to the Crimea is fortuitous as Surat Khan is there, having sought safe refuge with the Russians. As he packs in “The Finest Man I’ve Ever Known” offers a beautiful score highlight where all pretenses are dropped between Geoffrey and Elsa as he at last realizes that she is in love with Perry. He is gracious, and wishes her all the best, promising her to protect Perry. She in turn asks him to deliver a message to Perry, that his brother is the finest man she has ever known. We open with hopeful statements of his theme, yet they dissipate as her true affections are expressed. We are then graced with a warm and supremely evocative exposition of her theme. At 2:20 trumpeting fanfare and the British Anthem support a scene change to Balaklava, the allied headquarters in the Crimea.

“Orders to Withdraw the Light Brigade” reveals Sir Charles Macefield issuing Geoffrey orders to withdraw the Light Brigade, which forecloses their avenging attack on Surat Khan. Geoffrey argues strongly to reconsider offering a daring plan, but is rebuffed and ordered to deliver the order personally. Steiner sows disappointment, adding interplay of martial trumpets and interpolated phrasing from the Russian imperial anthem God Save The Tsar! In “Forging the Order to Advance on Balaklava Heights” we see Geoffrey conflicted, and haunted by thoughts of the Chukoti massacre, which Steiner supports at 0:51 with an eerie surreal ambiance. As the horrific visions play out on screen the music swells with blaring dire statements of Surat’s Theme. A cascade descent ushers in a martial rendering of the British Theme as he resolves to forge new orders for an attack on the Russian cannon positions at Balaklava Heights. We close with proud statement of the British Theme and Rule Britannia as Geoffrey rides to the Light Brigade encampment. “It’s Come at Last” reveals Geoffrey delivering the forged orders, which General Warrenton receives with great pleasure, realizing that they can finally avenge Chukoti. Martial snare drums usher in the British Theme as the orders to attack are received and Warrenton orders the Light Brigade to assemble. At Geoffrey’s request he sends orders for Perry to come to his office. For Geoffrey, one last thing remains, honoring his promise to Elsa. At 1:01 we segue into “Noble Gesture” where Geoffrey begins writing a letter to Sir Macefield confessing to changing his orders. By having Perry deliver it, he keeps him out of harm’s way. As he writes a warm, heartfelt rendering of Elsa’s Theme supports his fraternity. Discord enters at 1:17 as Perry receives his orders, which he believes is a betrayal. As he grudgingly accepts his fate and angrily departs, we close with Elsa’s Theme. At 1:57 British fanfare ushers in bugle calls for the Light Brigade to assemble.

In “Our Objective Is Surat Khan!” Geoffrey give a rousing speech, where he exhorts his fellow Lancers to avenge the fallen of Chukoti. As he concludes his speech and the Light Brigade advances a proud and rousing statement of the British Anthem resounds. We flow seamlessly into “The Charge of the Light Brigade” the score’s supreme cue and emotional apogee, where Steiner demonstrates his genius and earns immortality. The Light Brigade advances in staged tempos, which Steiner supports, achieving a powerful synergy. Script from Tennyson’s epic poem also display, creating an inspired confluence. We commence the advance with martial snare drums, which usher in a solemn marcia militare, buttressed with trumpets and statements of Rule Britannia. At 0:54 a galloping accelerando carries a Russian soldier to Russian command alerting them of the British advance. The General orders all canons to fire as they enter range, which Steiner supports with Surat’s Theme and God Save The Tsar! At 1:16 Warrenton orders a trot, which is supported with a faster orchestral tempo with interplay of the marcia militare, Rule Britannia and Russian fanfare as we see them loading their canons. At 2:18 a bugle call shifts the advance up to a gallop, now supported with a proud and determined British March. At 3:08 a bugle call initials a full charge; which Steiner supports with an accelerando of fury as the Charge Theme propels the men forward. They come into range of the Russian canons, which reign down death, devastating their ranks, and yet the forge forward unstoppable. Steiner whips his orchestra into frenzy driving the action ferociously, ever forward, propelled by trumpeting fanfare, countered by the Russian Imperial Anthem.

At 5:08 the bannerman falls, holds up the flag, which is grabbed by a comrade as Rule Britannia resounds. As the British overrun the first artillery position the Russian commander orders his cavalry to charge. At 5:27 ascending stepped trumpets and Rule Britannia unleash a furioso by the British March as they overrun the last canon batteries resulting in Volonov’s death and Surat fleeing on his horse supported by his theme. At 7:00 a new ferocious accelerando is unleashed with unrelenting statements by martial trumpets and Rule Britannia. At 7:23 a martial expression of Geoffrey’s Theme and Rue Britannia carries him ever forward in search of Surat. At 7:47 Surat’s Theme sounds as the two men meet again. At 8:10 Surat’s Theme resounds as he shoots and mortally wounds Geoffrey, who with his dying breathe impales Surat with his lance. Surat is then struck repeatedly by fellow Lancers as they ride by, finally expiring with one last reprise of his theme. We close at 9:00 with a triumphant statement of Rule Britannia as the British flag flies over the Russian position. “For Conspicuous Gallantry” we see Sir Macefield assuming responsibility for this “magnificent blunder”, thereby protecting the legacy of Geoffrey Vickers. Steiner supports the scene with a heartfelt elegy for the fallen. As Macefield tosses the letter into the fire and states “For Conspicuous Gallantry” we hear a final reprise of British Theme, which closes the film. “End Cast” is supported by a celebratory rendering of the British March.

I offer my praise to Anna Bonn, John Morgan, William Stromberg and Tribute Film Classics for this magnificent rerecording of the complete score to Max Steiner’s masterpiece, “The Charge of the Light Brigade”. The score reconstruction and orchestration by John Morgan is again peerless, and the conducting under William Stromberg’s masterful baton, exceptional. The sound quality is simply outstanding and offers an excellent listening experience. News of this project brought quivers and I must say that this album offers one of the Holy Grails for Max Steiner fans and collectors. Max Steiner’s score masterfully supported the film, and enhanced its narrative, thus allowing Michael Curtiz to fully realize his vision. He provided a multiplicity of fine themes, which fleshed out the characters, the tense drama of the love triangle, as well as interpolating national anthems to establish settings and military traditions. The thematic interplay was exceptional and empowered the battle scenes, providing a positive synergy to the action unfolding before our eyes. I consider this score a masterpiece of conception and execution, one of the finest in Max Steiner’s canon and a gem of the early Golden Age. The score’s reconstruction, recording and conducting is flawless and I highly recommend you purchase this quality album for your collection. It suffices to say that I wish the creative team continued success in their laudable efforts to reconstruct and rerecord film score classics for the benefit of the art form and future generations of fans.

For those of you unfamiliar with the score, I have embedded a YouTube link to score’s immortal cue, “The Charge of the Light Brigade”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNXUEq_An1A

Buy the Charge of the Light Brigade soundtrack from the Movie Music UK Store

Track Listing:

  • Main Title/Palace of Surat Khan (4:08)
  • Dispensing With Formalities (1:45)
  • A Brilliant Shot (2:59)
  • Little Prema and Geoffrey (0:51)
  • Soldiers On Parade (1:36)
  • Calcutta (0:53)
  • Perry and Elsa (1:43)
  • Brothers Reunited (0:40)
  • At The Lancers Ball (3:38)
  • Elsa’s Waltz (4:42)
  • Ballroom Waltz (1:05)
  • Geoffrey Warns Perry (1:14)
  • Geoffrey Bids Farewell/Trek To Buy Horses (5:13)
  • I’d Rather Hoped For Some Action! (4:39)
  • On To Chukoti (3:35)
  • Prema Tries On A New Salute (0:24)
  • Colonel Campbell Annoyed/Lady Warrenton (1:47)
  • In The Garden With Perry/Convoy Returns (2:04)
  • Leaving Chukoti Undefended (3:47)
  • Attack of The Suristanis (3:05)
  • Retreat To The Barracks (4:21)
  • A Chance By Moonlight (1:28)
  • Surat Khan Proposes A Truce (3:06)
  • Treachery Under A White Flag (2:31)
  • Massacre/A Debt Is Paid (3:53)
  • Rescue Troops To Chukoti (2:51)
  • They’re Dead! They’re All Dead! (2:31)
  • The Finest Man I’ve Ever Known (2:46)
  • Orders To Withdraw The Light Brigade (1:18)
  • Forging The Order To Advance On Balaklava Heights (3:10)
  • It’s Come At Last/Noble Gesture (2:35)
  • Our Objective Is Surat Khan! (0:51)
  • The Charge of The Light Brigade (9:27)
  • For Conspicuous Gallantry (1:04)
  • End Cast (0:39)
  • The Light Brigade Rides Again (4:37)

Running Time: 99 minutes 48 seconds

Tribute Film Classics TFC-1005 (1937/2009)

Music composed by Max Steiner. Conducted by William Stromberg. Performed by The Moscow Symphony Orchestra. Original orchestrations by Max Steiner, R. H. Bassett, Maurice de Packh, Hugo Friedhofer and George Parrish. Recorded and mixed by Alexander Volkov. Score produced by Max Steiner and Leo F. Forbstein. Album produced by William Stromberg, John Morgan and Anna Bonn.

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