Just a few words to note the passing of film editor Terry Rawlings yesterday. He edited several films that have been amongst my favourites- Alien and Blade Runner are possibly the two classics he’ll be most remembered for (other than Chariots of Fire) but I’ll also remember him for two flawed films that could be listed under ‘what might have been’- Legend and Alien 3, two films that never really clicked but could have been amazing in better circumstances. Both are a reminder that with all the best will in the world, films are a collaborative work and always subject to outside forces, ill will and ill luck.
Of course, if you’ve been reading this blog recently you’ll know I only rewatched Alien on Sunday, which was the first film Rawlings edited, I believe, on his own. Having had a background working as a sound editor before, Rawlings brought with him an understanding of the importance of sound (and music) in the editing process, and his work, and films, benefited from this. Mind, it could also be a subject of some contention. Rawlings was a lover of music (and I suspect had a huge collection) and his temp music track for Alien caused him some troubles with the composer Jerry Goldsmith. Some sections of Goldsmiths Alien score were replaced by some of Goldsmith’s earlier score for the film Freud – noticeably the section of Dallas in the shaft or the the acid dripping scene when Ash tried to cut the facehugger from Kane. They are very effective scenes with the Freud music (it’s a fantastic score, I bought the album a few years back and it’s brilliant, and its quite uncanny how well it works in a film made so many years later). Nothing Goldsmith did for Alien could shake Rawlings and Scott’s love of the temp track and it stayed, much to the composers chagrin – likewise even the main title music was dropped in favour of some other Alien music Goldsmith wrote for the scenes on the planetoid. Goldsmith was horrified by this second-guessing and manipulation of his score for different scenes, but I have to admit, Rawlings was right. The title sequence with its drone-like, moody music never fails to pull me into the mood of dread that pervades the film (I think the Alien title sequence is one of the very best of all time).