Sometimes film scores surpass the films they are originally written for, listening experiences that reward long after the original film is forgotten or dismissed. I saw the Tony Scott film Revenge just once, and it was so long ago it was on a VHS rental. I actually rather enjoyed the film, and in hindsight I can see it was perhaps a more thoughtful, personal film than most of those Tony Scott made. Perhaps a bit more like his brother Ridley’s kind of films (Tony was a master of popular mainstream films- Top Gun, Days of Thunder, Crimson Tide… my own favourite being True Romance). But I only ever saw Revenge that once.
Whatever I thought of the film though, it was the music score by Jack Nitzsche which really made an impression on me. A mix of acoustic instruments and synthesizers, it’s a haunting score blessed with a tragic, melancholy love theme that is just so achingly beautiful. Its up there with the very best (i.e. up there with Wendy Carlos’ love theme from the original Tron) but unfortunately as it was written for a film that is pretty much forgotten, I guess few have even heard it. The score as a whole works brilliantly well, the love theme running through it in variations. The electronics are a sign of the times but have actually aged very well.
The score was released back when the film came out in 1990, on the Silva Screen label. At the time cash was tight so I didn’t buy it, but managed to rent it from my town library and made a cassette copy, thinking I’d buy a proper copy when I had the money. Alas the disc went OOP and over the years has been sold for the kind of crazy prices that make your eyes water. And it’s a testament to the quality of the score that people have actually paid those prices.
Fortunately for those of us with a cautionary eye towards such expenditure, Dragons Domain Records in the US have now released the Revenge score newly remastered with some previously unreleased tracks. As these soundtracks releases usually are these days, it is in a limited edition of 1,000 units, so anybody out there who’ve been hankering for a copy of the soundtrack should take action quickly. The BSX Records website (www.buysoundtrax.com) is the place to go for those willing to import but a few European websites will be getting stock too.
Of course for those many readers who never even heard of or saw the film, or have long forgotten about it, all this talk about the music will likely mean nothing at all. Pop onto Youtube sometime and give it a listen, there’s quite a few videos featuring the love theme. You might find you’ll like it.
Strange to think, Revenge really doesn’t feel that old a film, and yet both its director and its composer have passed away over the years since. I don’t know how highly Scott rated the film (years later he recut the film twenty minutes shorter, a version I’ve not seen so I can’t comment on its merits over the original), but Nitzsche considered the score one of his best works. I’d certainly agree with that. It’s a brilliant, haunting score and it’s great to see it available again- one of the soundtrack releases of the year in my book, and something I never expected.