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Most of this blog is related in some way to the music, books and films produced by Gonzo Multimedia, but the editor has a grasshopper mind and so also writes about all sorts of cultural issues which interest him, and which he hopes will interest you as well.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Mike Oldfield — The Space Move: The Original Soundtrack



Some movie soundtracks work as free-standing music apart from the visuals, but there are others that are so integrated with their movies that taking them out of that context doesn’t provide a satisfying listening experience. Given the history of Oldfield’s music for The Space Movie, one might expect that it would work well on its own. The history goes like this: by the middle of the 70s, America’s interest in space exploration was declining, sagging from the high of the moon landing in 1969, and NASA officials were looking for a way to revive some enthusiasm in the public (and elected officials), so they hit on the idea of a documentary film celebrating the great achievements. They chose British filmmaker Tony Palmer, who had recently done the seriesAll You Need Is Love:

The Story of Popular Music. NASA gave Palmer access to all the film footage they had, much of which had never been seen by outsiders, as well as all the audio recordings of astronauts’ conversations with Ground Control. When considering what music to use, Palmer thought of Mike Oldfield, and since he knew Virgin Records head Richard Branson, a deal was struck. Palmer got to work stitching together a history of space travel up to that point, also bringing in some archival film of early attempts at flight – you know all those amusing pictures of early flying machines falling apart. As time went by and the film took shape, Palmer began to wonder what kind of progress Oldfield was making on the music, and a meeting was arranged. Oldfield presented what he had – less than ten minutes of music for a film that was 80 minutes long and approaching a deadline, since it needed to be out for the 1979 ten-year anniversary of the moon landing. Palmer presented his concerns to Branson, who arranged with Oldfield to use some already existing music that had never been released, namely the orchestral versions of “Tubular Bells” and “Hergest Ridge.”

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