Thirty-three years after its initial release, composer Jerry Goldsmith’s landmark score for “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” has been completely restored and is about to be released in a deluxe package designed to satisfy fans who have long clamored for this material.
Goldsmith’s score received a 1979 Oscar nomination, marked the beginning of a 23-year relationship with the “Trek” franchise and would become among his best-known works because the main-title music was later revived as the theme for TV’s long-running “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”
But the first of the 10 “Trek” films was notoriously plagued by production problems that took a toll on Goldsmith’s schedule for writing and recording. The result was more than 20 minutes of early music that was recorded but never used.
That music, plus 85 minutes of the actual film score and another 75 minutes of outtakes and bonus tracks, is included in the 3-CD set to be released June 5 by Burbank-based La-La Land Records.
“It’s a landmark science-fiction score, something Goldsmith excelled at,” says Jeff Bond, author of “The Music of Star Trek.” Bond cites “Planet of the Apes,” “Logan’s Run” and “Alien” as other seminal works by the composer but finds the original “Trek” a “transitional score for Goldsmith, where he started moving in a more romantic direction after years of very experimental, often dissonant music.”
The challenge for Goldsmith (who died in 2004), according to album producer Mike Matessino, was not just composing without benefit of a completed film (because the visual effects came in very late) but also finding a new, post-“Star Wars” direction for space-adventure music and musically matching a thoughtful, ambitious storyline.
Matessino, who worked with “Star Trek” director Robert Wise to restore and recut the film for a 2001 DVD, calls Goldsmith’s approach “operatic” and believes it ranks with such all-time classic scores as “King Kong,” “Gone With the Wind” and “Ben-Hur.”
It took five months to find, restore and remix. Thirty-six reels of music were found in the Paramount vaults; a long-missing 37th reel was discovered at Columbia Records, which paid for the original scoring sessions in exchange for album rights.
The film also marked the beginning of a long professional relationship between the composer and scoring mixer Bruce Botnick, who in 1979 was a Columbia Records producer overseeing the “Trek” album. Botnick (who recorded all of the composer’s subsequent “Trek” scores) remixed the entire score for the new release.
“I still think it’s breathtaking,” says Botnick. “It’s as inventive as ‘Planet of the Apes,’ some of the best modern classical music of this era. I would love to see it performed live at (L.A.’s) Disney Hall. I think it would blow people’s minds.”
Among the unique sounds that Goldsmith discovered for “Star Trek” was the Blaster Beam, an 18-foot-long aluminum percussion instrument built and played by Craig Huxley (who, as a child actor, had appeared on two episodes of the “Trek” TV series in the 1960s).
Its 24 tuned strings, struck by pipes and even an artillery-shell casing, made the strange, booming noise associated with the V’ger entity that the Enterprise crew encounters in the film. Huxley will perform on it at a screening of the film and panel discussion (including Bond, Matessino, Botnick and others) on June 4 at the ArcLight Cinema in Hollywood.