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Planet of The Apes

DVDTim Burton's re-imagining of PLANET OF THE APES has as many detractors as it has fans. The ending totally threw everyone for a loop -- is it merely an arbitrary "idea" or does it somehow link to the rest of the film, and for weeks, fans puzzled over the hidden meaning. One thing folks don't have to puzzle about is just how damn good Danny Elfman's score for the film is. Sony Classical's album is, in my opinion, a superior presentation of the score then what's actually in the film. Elfman expanded upon many musical ideas and cues in the album that are abbreviated in the film, including the terrific "Main Titles" and "The Hunt". That's not to say that every last worthwhile note of the score made it on the album, in fact there are several major cues that didn't make the cut, including the numerous source cues (when Leo and the humans are carted into Ape City, the society dinner and the monkey "rave" music when the humans make their escape), and the big action cues for the "Camp Raid" and the climatic battle -- which is essentially a oft-confusing patchwork that suffers in the listenability department by touching on so much of the onscreen action.

Fox Home Video's mammoth 2-disc PLANET OF THE APES DVD features many Elfman extras, including a nine-and-a-half minute featurette on the APES scoring session (dig those string and brass riffs all alone, stripped of Elfman's wall of percussion), and an Elfman commentary track with isolated score. For the first time, the un-released music from PLANET OF THE APES is available to listen to, swithout sound effects and dialogue. Isolated scores are the only way to really study the interaction between the film music we love, and the movies they are written for. For folks without the DVD, fans of the score, or just people with too much time to kill, here are several soundclips of some of the score's un-released highlights, taken from the DVD track, with notes on where it appears in the film and if an alternate counterpart appears on the Sony Classical album.

Soundclips of un-released/alternate cues are arranged in film order. This is not a cue run-down of the complete score. Copies of these cues are not available, so please do not e-mail me with requests. This website recommends the Original Soundtrack Album as the best, and legitimate way to hear Danny Elfman's score. Warning: comments may contain spoilers!!

01. Main Titles (alt.)
An alternate, shorter main titles cue. The album version is substantially more bombastic, but lacks the opening woodwind riff.

02. The Hunt (alt.)
An alternate, shorter version. Again, the album version tops the film version, and features further development. Notice the jarring editing.
03. Ape City
This cue begins with the wide-shot of Ape City in the distance, and segues into a "soundscape" of Ape City, with various source cues moving from the left to the right of the stereo field.

04. The Escape Part 2
Several source cues intermingle with superb Elfman action scoring. This cue includes the wonky Senator Nado/Nova seduction music (with Lisa Marie doing her best ape dance). 2:33 in, things get serious, and very cool.

05. Camp Raid
Leo and crew have to cross an Ape encampment on their way to Calima. Enroute, they cause a little mayhem for the Ape army. This is perhaps the score's most popular un-released cue. Featuring some of the score's most dynamic action licks, including that strange "whistle" blast, this is one cue that probably would have fit in on the OST quite nicely.

06. Calima Part 1
Leo and his band arrive in Calima, at what is supposed to be the rendevouz point with the Oberon crew. Instead, the Oberon has crashed, presumably thousands of years ago. This cue did not appear on Elfman's original album, but features similiar musical ideas that did, particularly the "Leo/Ari Theme" (not included in the soundclip) which opens the cue. I like this clip because Elfman punctuates the dialogue with bell strikes.

07. The Army Approaches
Birn spots the Ape army and retreats back to the Oberon to warn Leo, who proceeds to hum-and-haw about what they're going to do. The cue includes two notable moments: the warm swell that accompanies the human crowd shots and the ethnic flute blast that has previously in the score, denoted the old grudge between Attar and Krull.

08. Prepare For Battle (alt.)
Here's the film/expanded version of "Prepare For Battle". This clip is just an excerpt, as the second half is almost identical to the album version.

09. The Charge
This cue includes both the loping Apes and when Thade joins the battle, and includes material from the OSTs "Apes Suite #2".

And for all those Paul Oakenfold fans... Here's a bonus, just for you.

When I had my first listen to Elfman's PLANET OF THE APES, I honestly did not know what to expect -- which may account for why I am so smitten with it. It is probably my favorite score of the year, and having heard about 90% of all of them written for 2001, I think I can make that statement with a clear conscience. What PLANET OF THE APES ended up being was a truly unexpected surprise. While the additional cues on the DVD are nice, the Sony album is just darn perfect, and probably the best presentation a score has received this year. - Ryan Keaveney

Info on the "Planet of The Apes" Soundtrack album
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[This page updated: 11/25/2001]
All original text 2001, original artwork Ryan Keaveney & Klaatu Media 2001.
All other materials are by original authors / artists / labels and are
presented here for critique, educational and promotional purposes only.
Questions or comments can be emailed to Ryan Keaveney.

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Shirley Walker film composer, and conductor of Elfman's BATMAN score.