Review: Logan's Run (1976)

Composer: Jerry Goldsmith

Label: Film Score Monthly

Catalogue Nr.: FSM Vol. 5, Nr. 2

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The 70's science fiction film Logan's Run with its clean, over-coloured and artificial design came only one year before George Lucas' space fantasy Star Wars (1977) radically changed the genre and rendered the film dated even though its content is becoming more and more relevant. Director Michael Anderson describes a vision of a post-apocalyptic future society in which human beings are living in an isolated underground place called The City where random pleasure is reality and age non-existent. The downside is that every citizen's life ends in a cruel, public hara-kiri ritual called Carrousel when they reach 30 years and whoever is trying to escape that ceremony as Runners will be hunted by the Sandmen. Hero Logan 5 is one of those Sandmen who enjoys his bloody routine until The City's artificial intelligence sends him on a mission to search and execute a group of runners hiding in a mysterious sanctuary. He is joined by a girl called Jessica 6 and both develop strong feelings for each other during their journey which ultimately leads them to the surface. The scenario with its moralistic message is shocking and certainly not as fictitious as it may appear which made it a cult classic among sci-fi fans. 

The score:

Although the film was not so well-received by critics at the time of its theatrical release, Jerry Goldsmith's musical score instead received universal praise. Logan's Run came in a period when the composer was already experimenting with artificial sound design on then-state-of-the-art analog synthesizer equipment and that particular sound turned out to be perfect for this film to intensify the scenes inside the controlled, neutral environment of The City. In contrast to the synthetic sound design for the artificial environment, Goldsmith created a wealth of orchestral music that takes over during the second half of the film when Logan 5 and Jessica 6 experience the warmth and beauty of the surface and feel real love for the first time. This clever musical approach enhanced the entire picture and helped to make the scenario even more realistic no matter how dated the analog synthesizer experimentations may sound today.

The film's opening follows a camera flight into the dome with The City while Jerry Goldsmith is introducing his cyclic 3-note motif for The City in "The Dome / (...)". First performed by electronics the cue goes into a trumpet solo which goes into an orchestral piece that builds up to full orchestra and hints the main love theme before the electronics continue in "(...) / The City / (...)" with a liquid wobbly sound. A lullaby for celesta follows that further hints the love theme when Logan 5 visits the "/ (...) Nursery". It is simply remarkable how Goldsmith once again managed it to merge all crucial elements of his score within only one, ambivalent 3-minute intro-cue. "Flameout" is an entirely electronic build up that accompanies the cruel self-execution ceremony Carrousel while "Fatal Games" is another purely synthetic cue of chaotic beeps and bleeps that starts when Logan 5 is chasing a runner and ends with electronic noise when the runner is executed. More direct but somehow suspenseful hints of the love theme are played by violin accompanied by pizzicato strings when Logan 5 is at home and going "On The Circuit" (like a star trek beam but actually the futuristic equivalent of swinger clubs) where he meets Jessica 6 for the first time.

Electronic sounds return in "The Assignment / Lost Years" with the droning city-motif and low-key synthetic suspense that goes into menacing and mechanical sound design constructed around the city motif for Logan 5 conversation with the City's artificial intelligence that sends him out to find the sanctuary and the runners. Goldsmith follows with intriguing psychological writing for strings in "She'll Do It / Let Me Help" when Jessica 6's friends want her to betray Logan 5 by leading him to a trap and she develops second thoughts. The essence of that cue is continued in the partly unused "Crazy Ideas" which was meant to accompany a lengthier conversation. "A Little Muscle" is a really interesting cue with nervous scratched-out violin and piano that foreshadows basic elements of the composer's academy award winning score for The Omen from the same year. A terrifying build up for strings follows in "Terminated In Cathedral" when Logan and Jessica find another runner who gets shot by Logan's former friend, Sandman Francis. The first half of "Intensive Care" offers playful, glassy source music with an exotic touch for a plastic surgery shop while the second half offers shrieking strings and piano crashes that increase the drama when Logan is attacked by the surgical lasers.

Another purely electronic cue of weird but annoying sound design follows when Logan and Jessica escape from the plastic surgery shop into a "Love Shop". After that, Goldsmith brings back the cycling city-motif in "They're Watching / Doc Is Dead" but this time entirely for strings that play against an electronic growl to indicate that Logan and Jessica are slowly coming closer and closer to the outside. Staccato effects for piano and strings accompany another chase sequence in "The Key / (...)" before a passage for thin string harmonics and bells create a crystalline sound when Logan and Jessica enter an ice cave where they meet " (...) Box" the robot. "Ice Sculpture" is he continuation of the previous cue and ends with string clusters when Box suddenly attacks. The real highlights of the score start when our heroes are going outside the ice cave and suddenly look at "The Sun" for the first time. This is the moment when Goldsmith unleashes the full orchestra with a full statement of the love theme and goes into pounding suspense music when we see that Sandman Francis is still following the couple.

The orchestral beauty continues with "The Monument" - easily one of Jerry's most impressive orchestral compositions from the 70's. The cue is very long with 8 minutes and accompanies the scenes on the surface when Logan and Jessica explore the wilderness. A flute statement of the love theme is heard early on and goes into playful and lush orchestral music for woodwinds and strings as both are playing around in the nature, freed from The City's control. After a lush reprise of the love theme, the cue goes into an impressionistic motif for woodwinds that builds up to pompous Americana as the lovers approach the unkempt Lincoln Memorial. Suspenseful, low-key music for strings follows in "The Truth" when Francis is surprising both and a full blown orchestral action cue with bouncing trombones ala Poltergeist takes over in "You're Renewed". Logan and Jessica decide to "Return To The City" and "The Journey Back" is accompanied by more bright orchestral colours before a mechanical electronic arrangement creates terror during "The Interrogation" when Logan is captured and brought before the artificial intelligence to report. For the "End Of The City", Goldsmith created a beautifully touching reprise of the love theme with a nice heroic build up at the end. A pop arrangement of the love theme with a gentle beat is closing the CD.

 

RATING:

Score as heard in the film: 92%

Score as heard on CD: 66%

TOTAL: 79%

 

The presentation:

Hardly any other label can compare with Film Score Monthly when it comes to the presentation of a score. Logan's Run is yet another example of Lukas Kendall's intensive care for the music. The score is presented here for the first time in its complete form with several cues being longer than in the film. The orchestral cues seem to suffer from inferior, thinner sound quality with some noticeable hiss compared to the electronic tracks that come off clean but that's actually the only problem of this release. The booklet is again a real gem with coloured pictures from the film and production as well as conceptual art. As usual, the liner notes by Jeff Bond and Lukas Kendall are very informative and feature a detailed cue-by-cue description.

Presentation by the Label: 87%

 

Summary:

The real genius of certain scores can only be fully appreciated within the context of the film and Jerry Goldsmith's score for Logan's Run is one of these scores due to its ambivalent nature. There are some really gorgeous orchestral moments mainly from the second half of the score such as "The Sun", "The Monument", "You're Renewed" and "End Of The City" but a huge part of the score is focused on electronic sound design with cues that range from interesting, like "The Assignment", to utterly annoying, like "Flameout", "Love Shop" or "The Interrogation". These parts of the score are really hard to appreciate when they are separated from the visuals. Goldsmith surely made excellent use of his now-dated analog synthesizer equipment back in the 70's but the results are mostly far away from being listenable. However, it is that contrast between the emotionally involving orchestral parts against the cold, neutral electronics what actually makes the film work.

Review by Andreas Creutzburg

 

                   Tracklisting:

01. The Dome/The City/Nursery (03:05)
02. Flameout (03:23)
03. Fatal Games (02:26)
04. On the Circuit (03:49)
05. The Assignment/Lost Years (05:59)
06. She'll Do It/Let Me Help (02:41)
07. Crazy Ideas (02:38)
08. A Little Muscle (02:22)
09. Terminated in Cathedral (01:28)
10. Intensive Care (03:00)
11. Love Shop (03:43)
12. They're Watching/Doc is Dead (02:45)
13. The Key/Box (04:22)
14. Ice Sculpture (03:35)
15. The Sun (02:15)
16. The Monument (08:12)
17. The Truth (02:03)
18. You're Renewed (02:58)
19. The Journey Back/The Beach (01:36)
20. Return to the City/Apprehensions (02:30)
21. The Interrogation (03:58)
22. End of the City (02:23)
23. Love Theme from "Logan's Run" (02:27)

 

 

 

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