Comes shodown time, the orchestral music of Gothika quotes Basil Poledouris' Robocop score in a blatant way. And, courtesy of your humble host's own Movie connections series, it's not even mentionned on Imdb.
When Sir Poledouris died in 2006, I was unaware of who he was, though I had already technically heard his work through my viewings of Hunt for red October, Robocop and the Conan movies when I was 8 to 12 years old.
But as an adult, I never watched Conan or Hunt again with his name and praise in mind. To me, Conan was this violent/fun Schwarzy movie that shocked me with the introducing mother's brutal and unexpected beheading, and that was pretty much. Now the first Conan was said to be his great great achievement, something that truly changed the way music was used in movies. Something that reached way beyond movie maniacs, to the heart of classical music lovers alike. So, I had myself a Conan viewing a couple yaers back and damn what a blast it is.
From the opening narrative to the rolling final credits, the movie bears the mark "cinema" almost everywhere, and many times accordingly to the music that is so "narrative", so strong, so powerful and so romantic, so evocative of a fantasy time and place people kept dreaming of since forever.
Well, Conan's score is part of the movie. Schwarzy doesnt speak much, but he doesn't have to. The music tells everything, the quest, the era, the muscles, the longing, the friendship and so on...When he and Subutai run across the fields, It suddenly takes a nice, light and yet melancholic turn... It instantly, effectively and moreover BEAUTIFULLY tells everything about them, more the actors could possibly do themselves with words and it doesn't feel forced like a "trick" to stand up for any shortcoming. Or if it ever was, It works in such an incredible and seamless manner.
I wish most of genre movies would be treated with the same visual and musical prowess as the first Conan. It's just like Mad Max 2 in a way. For the doxa, the so called elite, these are trashy movies. But to me, they are important to my regard. These are movies you can have a terrific saturday evening with. And at the same time, film making wise, these are glorious exemples I would recommend anybody curious and passionate enough who's wondering about kinetics, narration, music or any related trait specific to this art.
For most of his time with us, Sir Poledouris mainly worked on large scale, big budget, B american movies, of the likes that would not really find recognition to the masses or the then again so called intellectual elite. But the directors he worked with are Paul Verhoeven, John McTiernan and John Milius to name a few. And Starship Troopers and Conan are great, solid films. And I won't argue about the meaning and the form. George Romero is not more about social comment than it is about zombies. What keeps me up at night is the magical blend of the two, that he made the two go together, and in more shots and sequences than once, within the same very frame. The guy is so smart sometimes it's scary. What makes me write is the final shot of Land of the dead. See it for yourself, and if you don't get anything about George's twisted, cynical, humoristic own despair as a genre filmmaker in Hollywood, just ask me. In the same kind of way, Starship and Robocop are both satires of our occidental society and action packed rides. Believe it or not, I felt Robocop was "mad" when I was 8, and not only because of the violence. The "fake" TV ads and moral values of this modern, urban world were very disturbing to me. It felt close to television and gave a twisted view of my surroundings.
And if Conan is deemed "only" to be a fantasy movie, something to have fun with, god it's seriously and beautifully made and orchestrated, to a level that excites my imagination and longing for perfection in what I do. And John Ottman's Gothika's quote, among many other movies that took serious notes, is an exemple of the mark Sir Poledouris left on cinema.
Any form of solid and everlasting stimuli, response, any beauty that forms a before/after line in the eyes, heart and mind of the viewer, is the way of cinema.