Friday, June 17, 2016

X-Men (Kamen, 2000)


     In 2000, the late Michael Kamen was asked to score the first "X-Men" film, replacing original choice John Ottman due to scheduling conflicts.  Despite last-minute studio requests to add more electronic elements to the score (with material supposedly provided by Klaus Badelt), he did a very effective job of starting the franchise off with some memorable thematic material.  However, due to all of these late-in-the-day changes, much of score prepared for the soundtrack was replaced, resulting in lots of "alternates" being used.  Nonetheless it's an enjoyable score and presents all of the major themes, while staying within a comfortable length.


     Plotwise, a young Eric Lehnsherr (Magneto) is separated from his parents in Poland during WWII and develops mutant magnetic powers (as well as a sensitivity to racial prejudice).  Years later, he plots to activate a device which will make other people into mutants like himself.  At the same time, a young mutant named Rogue meets Logan (Wolverine), and after they are attacked by Magneto's "Brotherhood of Mutants", they are taken in by Charles Xavier's more humanitarian group, the X-Men.  Rogue is eventually lured away from Xavier's school and captured by Magneto.  At the Statue of Liberty, the X-Men fight Magneto's mutants and eventually foil Magneto's plan and save Rogue.

     Although this would be the only X-Men film to be scored by Kamen, his X-Men theme will eventually "mutate" (pun intended) into a new version created by John Ottman for the sequel, "X2: X-Men United".  In any case, the themes in this score include the below:
  • X-Men theme: Hero march theme based on rising figures with a falling end note, highlighted in "The X-Jet". 
  • Cerebro theme: Swirling, layered theme on piano and strings, featured in the Main Title (not on album) and in "Cerebro".
  • Logan theme: Romantic, noble theme, used in poignant intimate scenes, but also soars in the film's climax (featured in several cues not included on the album). 
  • Magneto March: String accent rhythm used when Magneto is walking somewhere "with a mission".
  • Attack figure: 4-note staccatto rhythmic figure on strings.
  • Mystique motif: Short string motif treated with electronic effects (filtered).
  • Sabretooth fight texture: Electronic percussion using samples and noise elements.
     The table below describes the official soundtrack which, as mentioned earlier, contains many tracks that are not actually found in the final film.  I labeled some of the sections I couldn't identify as "Alternates" and gave my best guess as to what these cues were probably used for.  Some of the alternates only differ in the mix/orchestration, while some are completely different cues than what's in the film.  In any case, I'm happy to make any corrections if anybody has better ideas.
Trk Dur Title Film Sequence
1 3:05 Death
Camp
0:00: (Unused) In Poland, 1944, a crowd of Jews is forced to march down a fenced corridor in the muddy rain (soft falling piano accents leading to low strings, ending with rising oboe figure).
0:37: Eric (young Magneto) sees Jews wheeling carts and digging.  He is separated from his parents by soldiers (tuba figure into foreboding strings/low piano accents, building with muted brass/timpani rhythm into a march of doom, brass cadence).
2:00: The gate is closed, but Eric uses his power to bend the metal (march pulse joined by brass accents and swirling strings, hint of X-Men theme).
2:25: Eric is knocked out by a guard.  Scene transitions to Mississippi and young Rogue (accents into subdued low strings, X-Men theme fragment in low strings/brass, high held strings/soft opening piano accents figure).
2 3:26 Ambush 0:00: In his truck, Rogue asks Logan (Wolverine) about his claws.  They make introductions (high strings/ambient textures becoming more relaxed with harp plucks/winds/muted brass). 
0:40: (Partial) Something hits the windshield and the truck crashes (percussive string accent into rising-falling strings).  Logan is thrown clear.  Flames appear (swirling string harmonics, ambient textures).  Logan slowly gets up and heals (string harmonics/ambients/choir).  Rogue is trapped in the truck.  Logan smells an intruder (ambient sounds).
2:05: Sabretooth attacks Logan and Logan is knocked out (electric guitar accent, string/brass accents/electronics, Attack string rhythm figure, string tremoli).  Sabretooth approaches the truck but Storm and Cyclops (Scott) arrive (electronic rhythm/string accents leading to X-Men theme in brass, accented strings).  They drive Sabretooth away and then save Rogue and Logan, just as the truck explodes (suspense accents/ambient textures).
3 3:48 Mutant
School
0:00: (Alternate) Charles asks Logan about his missing past and offers help (falling/arpeggiated high strings/harp accents/metallic ambient textures).  Charles describes the school's mission over a montage of students and teachers with powers (sprightly, lilting piano/celeste/string ostinato with noble horn figure). 
1:26: (Alternate) Logan is examined by Jean in her lab (howling metallic echoes into high strings, becoming warmer with harp/chimes/brass, with X-Men theme fragment surfacing).  He wakes up and grabs Jean.  He then escapes into the corridor and hears voices (low pulses and suspense strings).  He finds clothing and then hears Charles' voice leading him on.  He eventually finds his way to Charles' classroom (string tremolo, pause).
2:50: (Unused: Falling wind figure into suspense strings/cymbals joined by synth pulses/tremolo strings/winds/muted brass).
4 5:01 Magneto's
Lair
0:00: In a cell, the Senator finds out he now has "pliable" bones (Mystique motif in processed string figures and flanged metallic ambients).  
0:43: Magneto returns and finds him hanging out the window (Magneto March in string accents with electronic noises).  He tells the Senator that he is now a mutant.  The Senator falls into the water (string accents into poignant figures/brass swells, string tremoli, swell).
1:41: The Senator wakes up in a dark room and meets Magneto and his Brotherhood of Mutants (Mystique motif in filtered violin/ambient textures, string accents with filtered cello/foreboding strings).  
2:43: Magneto gets into a large device and activates it with his powers (ominous low brass/string/piano figures, hint of X-Men fragment, synth choir/strings, building strings/timpani/choir leading to low rhythmic accents).  
3:57: Radiation spreads out, and then dissipates (clanking noises/string accents and X-Men fragment, fateful falling figures, held textures with low string accents).
5 2:13 Cerebro 0:00: Charles enters Cerebro's chamber to look for Rogue (tremolo strings, X-Men fragments, low textures with ambient voice samples). 
0:50: He begins scanning minds and sees her at the train station (theme also used for Main Title) (Cerebro theme in electronic drums with rising filtered string figures, building and becoming low brass, celeste/harp).
6 2:36 Train 0:00: In the train station terminal, Sabretooth grabs Storm and Toad knocks off Scott's visor.  Storm takes out Sabretooth with a lightning bolt (electronic ambient effects and beats with tremolo strings, rising string gliss becoming synth/string/brass accent). 
0:56: (Partially used) Magneto peels open up the subway car holding Logan and Rogue (slashing layers of string accents joined by electronic beats/tremolo strings, hint of X-Men theme in low brass ending in choir).
1:49: He dispatches Logan and then uses a syringe to knock out Rogue (electronics/strings/choir into tremolo strings, fateful strings/brass, electronic beats return and end after a final percussive string strike).
7 3:02 Magneto
Stand Off
0:00: When Magneto and his men try to leave the train station they are stopped by police (Magneto March in accented strings, joined by X-Men fragment and then developed).  Magneto uses his powers to disarm the police and turn their guns against them.  Charles takes control of Toad and Sabretooth and makes them threaten Magneto (low piano tremoli/choir, strings building to cymbal swell).
0:54: Magneto calls Charles' bluff when he threatens the police and wins out (suspenseful low choir/strings with rhythmic piano/timpani accents, high string accents become tremoli and then pause, low tremolo strings/low brass joined by high strings/piano accent, ending in tense strings and hint of Mystique).
2:28: Mystique arrives in a helicopter and they escape (rhythmic timpani/subtle X-Men motif).
8 3:47 The X-Jet 0:00: The X-Jet takes off from underneath the school basketball court.  As the jet approaches Ellis Island, Storm provides weather cover.  Magneto tells his team that he senses the X-Men (rhythmic violins/electronic pulses/percussion joined by brass/strings and building to X-Men theme in rising brass figures, fanfare accents/electric guitar, string/piano cadence figures, low strings).
1:55: (Unused)  The X-Jet lands in the fog near the statue (low string accents, suspense string figures/tremoli).
2:21: (Hesitant violin joined by electronics/strings/timpani accents, poignant piano/violin into low strings and brass accent).  
3:03: The X-Men explore the museum floor but are observed by Mystique (suspense strings, Mystique motif in filtered cello, low string accents/high string tremoli). 
9 2:22 Museum
Fight
0:00: (Alternate)  Logan fights a fake Logan (Mystique).  Toad fights the other X-Men (syncopated low string rhythm with Mystique motif/various string/percussion accents, developed with some added brass/piano elements, string gliss, low tremolo strings/Attack motif in rhythmic strings into high trills, low accent). 
1:00: Storm rises from an elevator shaft and eventually takes out Toad with lightning (high falling violin trills into X-Men theme in strings/brass, falling strings and brass clusters/col legno string accents, low string/timpani accents, rhythmic bass/low brass).
10 2:38 The Statue
Of Liberty
0:00: (Alternate) Logan and Sabretooth fight on top of the Statue of Liberty, intercut with Eric giving Rogue his power to activate the mutation device.  Scott and Jean eventually take out Sabretooth with an optic eye-blast (Sabretooth electronics/strings texture, intercut with action brass and string figures/accents, choir textures, rising brass lines, drum and brass, tremolo strings, syncopated string action figures, rising string figures, etc).
11 2:31 Final Showdown 0:00: (Alternate) Logan volunteers to have Storm levitate him to Rogue (syncopated low string rhythm with string/brass accents).
0:23: Storm and Jean work together to throw Logan up to free Rogue from the mutation device (X-Men theme in brass over rhythmic strings/brass, developed, rising figures).  The device activates and Logan fights Magneto as the radiation spreads (swirling figures/brass tremoli/danger fanfares).  The UN audience panics.  Scott blasts Magneto and Logan destroys the machine (fateful brass/string layers, syncopated strings joined by brass, fanfare into subdued strings).
12 5:58 Logan And Rogue 0:00: Logan holds an unresponsive Rogue (Logan theme surfaces in oboe over arpeggio in harp/strings/piano, Logan theme develops in strings).  He gives her his healing power to recover (low brass figure leads into Logan theme with additional brass layers/ornaments).  She revives and the X-men leave.  Back at the school, Charles wakes up (soft strings, low brass tremoli, resigned winds/strings).
2:38: (Alternate) Logan lies injured on a bed but eventually heals and is greeted by Jean.  He flirts with Jean (piano accent into playful/pastoral high strings/harp/bassoon).  Charles gives Logan a clue to his past.  Storm identifies a fake Senator Kelly on TVLogan leaves and Rogue follows him to say goodbye.  Logan gives her his dog-chain and departs on Scott's motorcycle (low string accents into low strings).
3:54: (Partial) Charles and Magneto play chess in Magneto's plastic prison.  They discuss the future (low strings into violins/flute/soft high piano ostinato, developed into strings).  Magneto warns Charles that the war is still coming.  Charles leaves, after assuring him that the school is safe from intruders(low timpani rhythm with subdued X-Men theme in winds, low strings/timpani, fateful strings/winds, soft falling piano from opening leading into strings/harp).


Links
Michael Kamen Wiki Entry
Michael Kamen's original home page

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