Superman Again!

supestmJust when you thought it was safe to swear off expensive soundtrack purchases (the expanded Thin Red Line arrived on Thursday -yay!) La La Land land the sucker punch that is a 3-disc Superman: The Movie set.  Remastered from the original 2-inch, 24-track music masters no less, the leap in sound quality is said to be extraordinary (well, they would say that, naturally, but..) and the 3-disc set includes the original album assembly that I had on vinyl for my birthday back in (whispers) February 1979…

So here we are again, Superman: The Movie, some forty years later. Oh man, me and this music. While the Star Wars soundtrack, that I had on tape for my birthday the year before, probably launched me on my love of soundtrack music, it was without doubt the Superman score that cemented it- I must have played that album so many more times than I ever played Star Wars. Superman was just incredible, so soulful and romantic and exciting – I used to play the Fortress of Solitude track over and over in the evenings, just letting its mystical, almost-ambience wash over me. Curiously enough, I hadn’t actually seen the film either ( I had a choice between a cinema visit and a skateboard, and my only defense is the peer pressure of all my mates having skateboards) so when I listened to the score, it was my own images and daydreams rushing through my head, so I have pretty intense memories of listening to it.

Oh well. Here we go again…

4 thoughts on “Superman Again!

  1. Matthew McKinnon

    Here we go again indeed.
    Thanks for the heads-up on this – I’d never have known this was coming out otherwise.
    Though I noticed the big box set was going cheap recently and wondered if the newer remaster was getting a release soon. If it’s as good as the recent Jaws and CE3K releases, it’ll be incredible.

    I literally cannot wait for this. I think it’s probably my favourite soundtrack of all time.
    And I’ve been listening to it a lot lately after seeing Superman again on the big screen at the end of last year – an experience that was unexpectedly moving: the Trip To Earth and Flying Sequences had me tearing up, the music was so lovely.

    Odd that you also loved the Fortress of Solitude particularly. It was the track that led me to start listening to the album again as a teenager: I’d developed an interest in ambient music (Eno, Harold Budd etc), anc the track fitted right in.

    So when did you eventually see Superman for the first time? I remember going to see it with my Grandfather in very late 1978 aged 7 in London; but it wasn’t until Superman II had come and gone and then was re-released as a double-bill with The Movie that I saw it properly and took it in. And then a long wait until January 1983 when it was on ITV.

  2. I saw Superman II first, back in 1980 at the cinema. It absolutely blew me away. It hasn’t aged as well as the original, but at the time I thought it was amazing, when I walked out of the ABC cinema in town I felt like I was floating on air. I didn’t see Superman The Movie until the first tv showing, which I thought was in December (over the Christmas holidays anyway) so yeah, maybe it was January 1983. I’ve always loved it. It has always been a magical, special film and is probably the best superhero/comic book movie ever made, I think. It has that old Hollywood innocence, same as the original Star Wars, and CE3K and Jaws. Films were special back then.

    A huge part of that magic of course is the music. Such an incredible score, and yes, having listened to it for years, finally seeing the film with that music was quite a strange experience that first time. Its everything modern film music isn’t. Big, bold, passionate, with such a complex tapestry of themes and styles. Fortress of Solitude always breaks my heart, remembering my daydreams soaring whenever I used to listen to it late at night.Can you imagine a sequence like that, such a lengthy piece of music as that, in a modern film? And of course all that Americana, Leaving Home etc.

    Imagine if SUperman II had stayed in Donners hands, and had he finished the two films and had John Williams written a proper sequel score. Wow. That would have been incredible.

  3. Matthew McKinnon

    Yeah, I thought the same about Superman II: I think I went to see it four times back when I was 9. I even liked it as late as 1988, when I had it on tape finally.

    But revisiting it on DVD in 2001 was a sobering experience. The story and structure are really good, and I think that’s what accounts for it still being quite well-remembered. But the execution really is terrible.

    It has its moments (the last scene with Lois and Clark is heartbreaking) but what a shoddily-made ragbag of a film. What were your thoughts on the Donner Cut?

    According to Mark Fisher’s book Watching The Skies – which is not very good at all, do not be tempted to buy it – The Movie was first shown in early January 1983, which I remember well, and then again at Christmas the same year.

    1. The thing about Superman: The Movie is that it was a pretty serious and respectful film, which was unusual back then, because comicbook heroes were the domain of campy tv shows like the Adam West Batman and the awful Doc Savage movie. Then the Donner film came and suddenly it was serious and ‘real’. In Superman II, the tone is all over the place, with Zod and his two goons played almost for laughs, like we’d gone back to Adam West’s Batman again. Comedy is such a fine line in these tights and capes movies. Back in 1980 I was just in awe of the film though- its funny how some films really don’t age well.

      Regards the Donner cut I recall enjoying it but it’s been some years, I really should watch it again, especially having seen Superman: The Movie in 4K a few months back. That’s another film on the ‘to-watch’ list then.

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