Alien 3 (Goldenthal, 1992)


     The third entry in the Alien franchise was scored by relative newcomer Elliot Goldenthal.  Goldenthal's style is known for its contemporary classical complexity - ie, he's not afraid to get weird.  Like some other composers (such as Jerry Goldsmith and Leonard Rosenman), Goldenthal uses many avant-garde compositional and instrumental techniques to get some unusual textures.  Many of Goldenthal's scores of course have their basis in "traditional" film music, but Alien 3, being a sci-fi horror feature, is steeped in atonality and murky textures, with some truly disturbing cues.  In this score there are no real character themes featured, but instead Goldenthal uses specific textures as a device to give the score its inner consistency.  Some of these textures include:

  • Brass and string polyphonic fanfares: ex. "The First Attack" (3:06)
  • String tremoli/clusters/glissandi: practically any random needle-drop.
  • Low ambient/impact textures and electronics: ex. "Candles in the Wind"
  • Boy vocal soloist and male overtone vocal: "Agnus Dei", "Lento"
  • Bowed metal: ex. "Wreckage and Rape" (1:31)


Trk Dur Title Cue Title/Film Sequence/Music Elements
1 4:29 Agnus Dei Main Title: Opening credits over starfield, intercut with short sequences: Ripley in hypersleep and the ship exterior.  A facehugger approaches Ripley's cryotube.  Acid drips on the floor when it attaches to her.  An alarm sounds and the ship ejects Ripley into an emergency compartment which breaks loose from the ship.  The escape pod fragment lands on a prison refinery planet's ocean.
Low ambient percussive/electronic textures with soft held string clusters and boy vocal soloist, drum accents, metallic sounds, swelling string/brass figures, moaning/creaking textures joined by additional vocal layers, drum accent into windy texture, hints of microtonal clarinet, brass swells, swirling strings, drums and fanfares, ending in boy solo vocal.
2 4:42 Bait and Chase It's Started: The alien chases one of the inmates (alien POV).  The alien is blocked by various closing doors and then baited again, as the inmates lure it towards the molten lead flooding chamber.  Dillon goes off to see the inmates' progress while various inmates are killed.
Accents into tremolo strings, drum fills, brass slams, high string clusters and glissandi/bass clarinet ornaments/brushes/electronics, metallic percussion/brass swells, low ambient textures into layers of brass tremoli/drums, low impacts, drum roll/tremolo figures, antiphonal brass wails, brushes and electronics, metallic accents into bass clarinet ostinato layers/held strings, metallic rhythm, string cluster swell, high string clusters/accents.
3 3:09 The Beast Within It Won't Kill Me: Ripley tells Dillon that she has an alien "queen" inside her.  She asks him to kill her and turns around to face away from him.  Tension builds but Dillon changes his mind at the last minute, and he tells Ripley that he needs her to help him kill the alien.
Low moaning trombone/bass clarinet/ambient textures, joined by suspense violins/gong, distant, building brass, rising strings/brass, subdued high string cluster, falling figures, sinister muted brass, low string drone. 
4 5:49 Lento 0:00: Unused
Boy vocal soloist over somber strings, joined by resigned low synth/piano/cor anglais/strings/oboe.
1:48: The Cremation: The prisoners gather inside a hellish blast furnace.  The prison administrator reads a prayer (camera pans across solemn faces).  Elsewhere, the dog seems uncomfortable and acts strangely.  Dillon says a prayer as well and Ripley weeps.  An alien xenomorph erupts from the dog.  Ripley sees her newly-shorn head in the mirror.
Ominous brass fanfares with timpani accents and swirling string arpeggios, sad figures with low male overtone vocal/violins becoming more poignant/mystical, soaring strings/howling elements, wailing boy voices, sinister brass accents/male overtone moan/string cluster glissandi.
5 3:21 Candles in the Wind Candles in the Wind: Some candles are being blown out as a few inmates explore a deserted complex.  One prisoner suddenly comes face to face with the alien, which immediately attacks.  2 inmates make a run for it but suddenly run into a dead body.  One inmate is attacked and killed, and the other runs off.
Ambient scraping textures, distant low impacts, low brass tremolo figure/tremolo low strings, bursts of string clusters, whipping sounds/col legno strings/tremolo figures in brass and strings, brass glissandi, howling textures/muted trombone accents, string clusters into sinister brass danger fanfare with drums.
6 2:44 Wreckage and Rape 0:00: Droid: Ripley salvages Bishop's head from a giant junk pile. 
Low string and clarinet tremolo figure joined by slower violin figures, building to brass climax with bass clarinet ornaments.
1:03: Rape: Ripley is confronted by a few prisoners who attack her and attempt to rape her.  She is rescued by Dillon.
High held violins with distant impact noises/pizzicato bass, bowed cymbals, drum/electric guitar groove with murky howling vocals and electronic rhythms ending in drum/guitar accents.
7 4:20 The First Attack 0:00: Main Title Cont'd: (partially used): Ripley's unconscious body is rescued from the escape pod wreckage.  The dog barks at an alien facehugger inside the wreckage
Rising wind figures/piano/high string cluster/harp, piano cluster, tremolo accents, low wind ostinato figure with brass/tam tam swells, piano ornaments, string clusters.
2:11: Clemens Dies (Pt 1): Clemens injects Ripley with a tranquilizer but is suddenly grabbed by the alien and killed.  The alien sniffs at a cowering Ripley, but decides to leave her unharmed.
High clusters/tremolo building with flutes/brass into brass glissando accent, sinister low flutter-tongue brass/drum slam accents, low electronic swells/bowed metals, string clusters.
3:06: First Attack: Inside an air shaft, a cleaning prisoner notices organic gunk on the floor (xenomorph skin).  The alien attacks him.  He falls into a fan and is killed.
Layers of irregular short low brass figures in dialogue with brass swells and electronic episodes, building to climax with clashing accents.
8 3:41 Lullaby Elegy 0:00: The Dog: The dog's owner notices that the dog's face has been marked.
Low bowed swells, joined by ambient textures.
0:27: Morgue: Ripley inspects Newt's corpse.  She closes Newt's eyes and then does a surface exam.  Ripley insists on an autopsy.
Rising bass figures, ominous brass/tam tam swells/violin swells, muted brass layers joined by piano ostinato and poignant piano and strings, low dissonant strings/high violin.
2:36: Autopsy (Pt 1): Clemens begins the autopsy.
High muted violin and low gong swells, distant impact textures.
9 2:19 Death Dance More Bait And Chase: The alien kills again.  Ripley tries to grab the alien and drag it out of a compartment.  She and Dillon eventually lure it to the lead flooding chamber.
String tremolo and brass fanfares, low strings/writhing muted brass figures, isolated percussion bursts, tremolo figures, drum rhythm/string cluster, string tremoli/xylophone, joined by brass tremoli/accents, gong and processed brass accents, rhythmic drum layers/string tremoli.
10 2:04 Visit to the Wreckage I'm Not One For Begging: Ripley tells the inmates the Company will not save them at the expense of the alien.  They discuss drowning it in hot lead.  Dillon gives a pep talk.
Slow trumpet figure joined by low brass with intermittent percussion accents, low brass counter melody enters, building, determined strings/brass/percussion, percussion solo.
11 2:21 Explosion and Aftermath 0:00: The Explosion (Pt 2): An inmate drops a flare into explosives and a massive fireball results.  Men rush around on fire.  Dillon eventually hits the sprinklers and the flames die out.
Accent, held texture, brass accents/glissandi with swirling tremolo strings, joined by timpani rolls, high percussion, ending in brass accent.
1:14: The Aftermath: The inmates survey the steamy aftermath of the accident and gather the dead.
Poignant, slow falling strings, building in layers, high string cluster.
12 3:08 The Dragon 0:00: Bishop Turned On: Ripley activates Bishop.  Bishop tells Ripley that an alien was on the ship, and that the Company wants it.  He asks to be disconnected and Ripley complies.
Bowed metal ambient texture, metallic sounds, subdued suspense strings/winds in dissonant layers with low swells, sul ponticello strings, muted brass.
1:54: That's His Boot: At the 1st victim's death scene, Clemens notices an acid burn.  At her escape pod's wreckage, Ripley sneaks around looking through technical gear and is surprised by Clemens.
Low and high string textures, wailing tones and distant ambient elements, low isolated wind accents, harp, high strings, building to brass accent.
13 3:42 The Entrapment 0:00: The Survivor is a Woman: The prisoners are informed that the survivor is a woman.  The prison administrators discuss what to do.
Low string harmonics/held strings, ominous muted brass figures, joined by high and low winds, strings, forlorn trumpet figure, low strings.
1:50: End Credits (edit).
String tremoli building in layers, joined by falling muted brass, trumpets, strings/drums. 
2:35: Hello I Must Be Going (Pt 2): Ripley hits the sprinkler, suddenly cooling down the lead-hot alien, and it explodes.  Ripley swings to safety.
Falling string figures in repeating layers, developing in various harmonies.
14 4:14 Adagio You Can Still Have a Life: The "Bishop" scientist offers to help Ripley get the queen embryo out of her.  Ripley refuses and the team attacks the inmate survivors.  Ripley dives off the platform into the blast furnace as the queen erupts from her chest.  
Poignant high winds/strings with distant low impact sounds, poignant/fateful strings/synth joined by noble brass and falling string layers, brass and timpani flourish, resigned clarinet/strings, poignant falling strings, building textures into a noble brass elegy, with brass/tam tam accents, strings, triumphant brass/drums fanfare with falling strings.
3:17: The sun rises and the colony is closed.  In the escape pod wreckage, Ripley's cryotube broadcasts her final sign off from the Nostromo.
Mysterious strings/winds, lonely trumpet figure, searching strings.


Links
Elliot Goldenthal Homepage
Elliot Goldenthal Wiki Entry

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