Score Analysis by Dirk Wickenden
Originally published in Legend: Issue 25/1998
The Official Jerry Goldsmith Film Music Society Journal
Text reproduced by kind permission of the author, Dirk Wickenden
Constellation Films’ 1996 presentation of The Ghost and the Darkness (released in 1997 in the UK) is based on a true story, chronicled in ‘The Man-Eaters of Tsavo’ by Lt. Col. J. H. Patterson, first published in 1907. Unfairly dubbed “Jaws on land” at the time of the film’s release, it starred Val Kilmer as John Patterson and Michael Douglas as the fictional “great white hunter” Charles Remington.
The Film – Background
The film was directed by Stephen Hopkins (PREDATOR 2, BLOWN AWAY), co-produced by Gale Anne Hurd (THE TERMINATOR, TREMORS), Paul Radin (BOM FREE, PHASE IV) and A. Kitman Ho (ON DEADLY GROUND, PLATOON) and executive producers were co-star Douglas and Stephen Reuther (UNDER SIEGE, SOMMERSBY). The screenplay was written by William Goldman (A BRIDGE TOO FAR, MAGIC) after hearing about the true story during a visit to Afiica in 1984. Goldman has said ‘I’ve only come across two great pieces of factual material in my life. One of them was BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID and the other is this’. The screenplay is a highlight of the film, as is Vilmos Zsigmond’s cinematography (CE3K, THE DEER HUNTER).
The majority of the film was shot on location in the Mpumalanga Province at the Songimelvo Game Reserve on the South African/Swaziland border, over a period of four months. A working railway was constructed, along with the town of Tsavo for the film and many natives were featured, including an off-shoot of the Masai tribe, the Samburu (see the section on ethnic source music).
Born in captivity, five lions were used during production (as well as the seamless animatronics of the Stan Winston Studios), Woltan and Roman from France, Caesar and Bongo from Canada and Sudan from California. Caesar and Bongo were used in the scenes requiring two lions as males are known to kill each other on instinct but these two were raised together since infancy.
In 1898, two man-eating lions terrorised the men working on the construction of a bridge over the River Tsavo as part of the East African Uganda railway. During their reign of terror, between them they killed over one hundred and thirty men. But Lt. Colonel John Patterson was not going to let that stand in the way of construction…
The Lion-Killer of Tsavo
Irishman John Henry Patterson was born in 1867, in Ballymahon in County Westmeath, He joined the army when he was nineteen and later joined the 3rd Dragoon Guards. He did not receive any pay for this branch of the service, which since 1857 had been on overseas duty in India. Patterson had enrolled for Short Service in the army, which entailed seven years in the Colours and five in Reserve. After his stint in India, he returned to England and in 1894 married Frances Helena Grey (the ‘Frances’ was dropped in the film), who had secured a Doctorate of Law at Dublin’s Trinity College, the first woman to do so.
On the 9th February 1898, Patterson set off for Mombasa by ship, leaving a pregnant ‘Francie’ at home. He arrived at Tsavo in early March, to commence his job of constructing a bridge over the River Tsavo as part of the Uganda railway. According to his book, he was solely responsible for the work, which wasn’t entirely accurate. However, what would soon happen was “the whole truth”. Tsavo, which was described as something of a beauty spot translates as “Place of Slaughter”, due to tribal wars and epidemics.
During the bridge works, his workers would disappear and this was due to the uncommon activity of two lions. Work would halt because of this problem but it is known that Patterson was a hard taskmaster and this contributed to the delay in the work as the men would strike. Patterson would punish his men when he saw fit. His diary reveals that when one worker used Patterson’s razor to shave his head, he was flogged and if any others displeased him, he would humiliate them before their fellow workers or would fine them heavily.
Patterson returned to England after disposing of the lions and completing the bridge and other ancillary works on the railway. Ironically, the bridge across the Tsavo was blown up by the Germans in the East African Campaign, Patterson was suffering from dysentery upon his return and would go on to serve in various regiments until 1920 and engaged in many campaigns and battles in South Africa and Gallipoli.
In 1907 he published The Man-Eaters of Tsavo and in 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt invited him to New York as he admired the man’s lion tales and wished to be led on safari. In 1909, Patterson’s second book In the Grip of the Nyika: Further Adventures in British East Africa was released.
In 1915, Patterson commanded the newly-formed Jewish regiment, resulting a year later in the book With the Zionists in Gallipoli, written whilst in hospital, having been invalided out suffering from jaundice, enteritis and shell shock. He would again lead the Jews in battle, chronicled in With the Judeans in Palestine. Patterson was again invalided out in 1919, now fifty-two years old and demobilised in January 1920 for the final time, suffering from dysentery and chronic enteritis.
From 1921, Patterson continued to travel to Europe with his wife and also to the United States. Come 1938, he was involved in the campaign to form a Jewish state and to free Palestine. Whilst in America in 1940, he became too ill to return to England and the couple made their home in California.
Francie later became too ill to look after herself and was placed in a San Diego nursing home and Patterson became unable to care for himself and moved into a friend’s home in California. He died in 1947 at the age of eighty and his wife, having suffered shock from the bad news via letter, followed him six weeks later.
The story chronicled in THE GHOST AND THE DARKNESS is told in the first third of The Man-Eaters of Tsavo, the rest being devoted to his further exploits and game-hunting in Africa.
The Music – Background
Jerry Goldsmith turned out a solid work with his score to THE GHOST AND THE DARKNESS. In some ways similar to his music for Congo (also set in Africa, although more “contemporary” in feel), one can also hear influences from other films he has scored, set in the wilds and jungles, such as the RAMBO films and MEDICINE MAN.
For the overall concept, Goldsmith utilised Irish, English, African and Hindi elements and for the action scenes, his muscular brass writing is much in evidence. The score is primarily orchestral but synths and electronically enhanced sounds are used, as are sampled African chants and ever-present ethnic percussion instruments.
The geographical influence is presented mainly in the percussion section, which includes the following:
Marimbas: Originally from Africa but today considered a Latin American instrument, they feature tuned wooden bars with resonators beneath and are struck with a beater.
Log Drums: Mainly found in Africa, Southeast Asia and South America, these are a wooden box with a number of tongues cut in the top and their characteristic throbbing noise is obtained by striking the top with a mallet.
Cow Bells: Worn by cattle, sheep and goats and made of iron with a clapper inside. African cowbells are carved in wood with one or two clappers.
Taiko Drum: A Japanese two-headed drum, tied together with rope. Strange, one may think, for an African-influenced score but similar folk drums are to be found the world over. They are played with two sticks on one or both heads.
Tam-Tam: Of East Asian origin, a bronze orchestral gong, suspended by the rim and struck with a heavy mallet covered in felt or wool, producing a metallic sound.
Bass Drum: A large double headed drum, struck with a padded beater.
Anvil: Found in a forge, an iron block on which a smith hammers metal into shape, for example, horseshoes. It makes a distinctive clinking sound and in musical works may be substituted with a steel brake drum (in the case of Basil Poledouris’ RoboCop, the fixer couldn’t lay their hands on a brake drum, so used a fire extinguisher instead – one hopes it was empty!).
The Indian workers and specifically the character of Abdullah receive a motif from a zither, a stringed instrument. Members of the zither family are found all over the world, such as Austria and Bavaria. The Appalachian dulcimer from America is another, as is the koto of Japan and the board and trough zithers of East and Central Africa.
The ensemble and solo chants in the score (other than the source chants) are sampled. This basically means that a sound, in this case a voice, is recorded digitally and played back through a synthesiser or computer. The recorded sound may be electronically manipulated as desired.
Ethnic Source Music
Music producer George Acogny and researcher/ translator Kelly Askew approached the Samburu tribe to transcribe the words and melodies for their chants and hunting songs that have been passed down the generations. These contribute significantly to the overall musical character of the film, as do the other chants and songs created by George Acogny from his research.
Major Themes and Motifs
1. Patterson: An Irish-flavoured melody, at once recalling the composer’s Patton, initially featured on flutes and subject to many variations during the score.
2. English Theme: A majestic ‘pomp-and-circumstance’ theme that signifies the British presence in East Africa and the bridge itself, heard mainly in the brass. The theme is firstly heard with the Patterson motif functioning as a counter-melody.
3. Africa: A “wide-open space” five-note cell that often leads into theme #2 and is heard in various instrumental guises, such as strings, flute-like synth and French horns.
4. Helena: A very John Barryesque motif (not used exclusively for the character), given fullest exposure at the climax of the film (cue #57) on high strings and French horn counterpoint.
The film does not contain an opening title sequence, which is increasingly rare these days as very often, credits are placed over the action of a film. This can prevent the viewer getting “inside” the film’s early scenes. The only opening titles in this instance are the production company logos, then the film’s title overlayed on an image of tall, waving grass.
Ominous synthesiser tones are placed under the logos, which gives way to a sustained note on the violins. The film cross fades to ‘London 1898’ as the title card reads and it’s straight into the voiceover narrative by one of the major characters, Samuel (John Kani). It is worthwhile noting that the ensuing conversation between Patterson and his new employer, Beaumont (Tom Wilkinson) is unscored as most of the conversations receive the same treatment. An exception to this is when Patterson is bidding farewell to his pregnant wife, Helena (Emily Mortimer). A very warm cue is scored, starting with the Patterson motif on French horns as the film cuts from the opening scene to Victoria train station. The cue also features flute then oboe over strings and trumpets announce Patterson’s departure.
The first “African” scene, showing the Irishman in Mombasa has no room for an underscore. The busy scene of locals, train noises and so on create an ambience, with no aural gaps for music. What follows, however, allows Goldsmith to add greatly to the scene as it involves a train journey through the African wilds. Giraffes and other wildlife receive an initial quote of the Patterson motif for horns. The first entrance of the ethnic percussion plays beneath a maestoso orchestral tutti of the motif and integrated into this is a metallic scrape, possibly of the tam-tam, imitating the turning wheels of the train. As Patterson tells his new assistant Angus Starling (Brian McCardie) about the animals they see on route, the flutes perform a lighthearded figure then trumpets comment on the information he presents. Further along, the pomposo English theme is portrayed by trumpets with a counterpointed Patterson motif on the flutes, whilst the ethnic and synth elements add to the dense structure.
The film soon cuts to the arrival at Tsavo with a cadence of the trumpet-scored English theme, which sounds as if it was tracked in, rather than originally written as such. As the train draws to a halt, the first sourced chant is used as the workers build the railway tracks. A subsequent aerial shot of the works is overscored with a contrapuntal texture of the brass English theme and flute Patterson motif and sampled ensemble chants.
The introduction of the site doctor, Hawthorne (Bernard Hill) is unscored as is his presentation of an injured native, who had been mauled by a man-eating lion. Perhaps this is correct, as appropriate music would have destroyed the sense of Patterson thinking he could sort the problem out easily. Later at night, he and Starling are perched up a tree waiting and music enters on ominous strings and low brass, as does the lion. Patterson shoots it, startling a sleeping Starling who falls from his perch. As the Scotsman looks up and finds himself nose-to-nose with the dead lion, triumphant brass follows through the cut to day and the cheering workforce, using the English theme and percussion.
The work on the bridge commences with chanting workers and Patterson, Starling and Mahina (Henry Cole) walk along the unfinished track. The African says that he had also killed a lion with his bare hands, and then senses something out in the waving grass as virtually the same music as the title piece is spotted.
Seven weeks later, as a title card reads, brass, percussion (including an anvil) and sampled ensemble chants are scored as the bridge building continues. As a main structural member of the bridge is dropped into place, the men cheer with a short rendition of the English theme. Indeed, whenever there is a great accomplishment in the narrative, the theme or a variation is used nearly every time.
A lightly rendered accompaniment is used as Samuel presents Patterson with a necklace made from the claws of the man-eater he killed. The cue consists of flutes, synth and harp, which leads into marimbas and synthesised panpipes. Violins and piano underscore Patterson’s voiceover of his letter to his wife as the film shows shots of the wildlife and the workforce bedding down for the night. The music gives the film a tranquil feeling, lulling the viewer into a false sense of security. Interrupting the calm, Mahina is awakened and dragged from the communal tent by an unseen lion as the brass section erupts, accompanied by struck anvils and the other men rise. The furious music halts as the lion runs through a thicket with Mahina in tow, leaving a bloodied bit of clothing behind. The film cuts to morning and vultures feeding on the African’s remains as Patterson scares them off with rifle shots. In the cold light of day, Goldsmith opts for silence, as he does in the following examination of the half-eaten corpse by Hawthorne. Soft strings enter on the scene of Mahina’s funeral pyre, underneath Samuel’s voiceover and at night, Patterson is perched in a tree, waiting for the next lion with a synthesised flute-like tone.
Later that night, a lion attacks in another part of the camp, which is not shown but a scream is heard as Patterson sits in his tree. The opening shot of a lion’s eye receives timpani, low woodwinds and brass, which play through the scene.
The following morning, the Hindi foreman Abdullah (Om Puri) and his workers refuse to work because of the attack during the night Samuel suggests they construct a thorn fence around the camp and Patterson divides the men between the fence and bridgeworks. Just prior to the cut to the next scene, a zither commences the cue followed by ethnic percussion, a manipulated sampled chant and unaltered chants. The French horns enter with the Africa motif and as Patterson watches the fence building from the unfinished bridge, the synthesised flute is presented.
Later, a merging of a sourced chant and underscore play a scene of the works and Patterson being handed a letter from his wife. The film then shows the workers from a vantage point amidst the grass and violins and synth are spotted. A cut-back cue is presented next as Patterson reads the letter, accompanied by a light synthesiser and string motif, interrupted by an occasional synthesised “growl”.
The music segues from the letter-reading as the film cuts to a lion tearing into the open and it flashes past as the brass surges in with percussion. A man is brought down as the percussion goes wild and the anvil puts in an appearance. Horns proclaim the Africa motif as Patterson races toward the camp for his rifle.
The furious music is replaced in the following scenes by synth and icy strings as Patterson, Starling and Samuel approach the feeding lion which roars at them. As Patterson takes aim, another lion with a dark mane roars and jumps from a roof behind the hunters, knocking the Irishman and Scotsman down. The synth, strings and brass follow it down as it joins the other, lighter-manned lion and they run off.
An oboe and violins present a mournful interlude as Samuel cradles a dead Starling – the lion’s claws raked him in passing, mortally wounding him. Patterson quotes from the Bible over the body, which becomes a voiceover underscored by dolente violins, playing through the dissolve to the workmen leaving the camp in haste. Samuel’s next voiceover comments on the lions’ unusual behaviour (man-eaters never hunt in pairs) and the workers’ superstitions to high pitched violins. Patterson tries to persuade Abdullah and his men to stay, with no musical backup.
Beaumont arrives by train and hears the workers chanting as they return to work. The conversation between Patterson and his employer receives no music and neither does the sight of Starling’s coffin being loaded on the train. A repetition of the latter section of Cue #23 would have helped convey the emotional aspects to the viewer, Beaumont, who doesn’t care about the estimated thirty dead, informs Patterson he will find and send the famed big-game hunter Remington to dispose of the lions.
Beaumont leaves on low woodwinds, strings and oboe as the film cuts to Patterson at night, in a box car lion trap he has devised. As he writes to his wife, the film shows one of the lions’ faces, intercut with Patterson. Men are heard yelling in the camp as they are attacked, then the following day, the film shows three workers shooting for target practice without music. I believe usage of the Africa motif would have suited the shooting scene.
The three native marksmen settle down in the box car for the night and celli, harp and synth play the scene as a lion approaches. Agitated strings and brass are linked with the chant as the lion enters the car and the door slides down, trapping it. The brass halts the cue as the lion stares, then tries to break the bars down and the men start firing but they continuously miss in their fear. The roaring and terrified screams of the men leave little room for music and none is used.
The following morning, Patterson is angry with the men and cannot believe they missed the lion. Abdullah argues width the Irishman and the men are ready to riot. The hunter Remington arrives at an opportune moment and holds his rifle to Abdullah’s head to quell the rising tide of anger. The scene lacks scoring, but hard-edged violins, halting as Remington holds his gun to the Hindi’s head, would have worked well. Remington then calls “his” tribe of Masai warriors from out of the tall grass.
After an evening of Masai rituals, the following morning sees the men forming a hunting party. The music that emerges from the shadow of the Masai source chants consists of horns, strings and percussion. The sampled chant and percussion builds in power and the hunt is accompanied by low brass. Quiet synths add to the suspense as Patterson and Remington stake out opposite sides of a rocky clearing.
As the stalk continues, synth, strings and brass arc heard, together with an expectant harp. A tentative brass cell spies one lion in a thicket, joined by woodwinds. The music ends on a stressed accent as the men see the lion but Remington cannot get a clear shot. He then hollers to the Masai, accompanied by the brass and percussion and flutes follow Patterson as he creeps toward the undergrowth. He is startled by a bolting zebra.
Goldsmith utilises his standard stop-start technique to add to the suspense of the scene, much as he did in the Rambo films. Patterson hears a growl and turns around to face the lion, mere feet from him. The music reaches a crescendo with intense strings and halts as he takes aim and tries to shoot but the rifle does not fire. As Patterson stands stock still perspiring, strings, chanting and percussion play through the shot of the petrified man. Remington fires from the other side of the clearing but misses and just succeeds in frightening the lion off.
A subsequent scene shows the old hospital being baited with meat and buckets of blood and is given a powerful mix of chanting and percussion. Horns put in an appearance as live cattle are led into the building. The film also shows the men in a new hospital (a large tent), enclosed by thorn fences and as they wait for the lions, music is not featured in the cuts between both sites.
The film next shows a lion walking past the old hospital, followed by an eerie synth and brass as the cattle become agitated to suspenseful strings and harp. The next cue, as the two hunters wait with guns at the ready inside the old building, with its stop-start design adds to the suspense. Patterson opens the door to chanting, strings and percussion but the lion, who has been trying to break in, has vanished.
The film cuts to the workers as both lions appear and attack to violent brass and percussion in a virtuoso display. Doctor Hawthorne runs to help the hospital residents to loud chanting and horns as the lions continue to kill man after man. Patterson and Remington sprint towards the carnage and a mournful oboe reveals their feelings on seeing the dead. The synth flute quietly counterpoints the oboe as they see that Hawthorne has been killed. The strings appear along with the chanting and percussion as the workers pile onto a departing train the next day, as does Abdullah. Samuel and Patterson walk over the unfinished bridge as the music continues with an added flute.
A decisive feel is obtained as Samuel collects the claw necklace from Patterson’s tent by a horn-scored Patterson motif. An oboe continues the cue as he puts the necklace on and goes to join Remington and the two set off in search of the man-eaters. They walk off to horns and percussion and the cue tails out as Remington picks some lion fur off a bush, the stalking then continuing without music.
They discover the lions’ cave and strings, synth and percussion with a suspenseful harp follows the men as they enter. The music imbues the scene with a ‘creepy’ air, suggesting a wet and dark cavern. There is a basso percussive synth that sounds remarkably like the noise of the machine in the Morlocks’ caverns in the 1960 film The Time Machine. The music combines with the sound of dripping water and features eerie synths, strings and brass. When Remington comes upon a pile of human skeletons, Goldsmith scores a hard hit with a fluttering flute motif and strange synth tones follow Patterson’s stare. The music completes the oppressive, claustrophobic scene as Remington says “Lions never had a lair like this… They’re doing it for the pleasure”.
Later, Patterson demonstrates his scale model of a ‘mecan’ to perch on, thinking the lions have become used to seeing him up a tree. The film then cuts to daylight and a chattering caged baboon as Samuel says “Lions hate the sound of a baboon”. Music has not been heard since the cut from the lions’ den. Patterson climbs up onto his platform and Samuel and Remington walk to their hiding places. An oboe enters as the American wishes Patterson a “Merry Christmas” – the Irishman is startled as he didn’t realise the month.
The flute-like synth presents the Patterson motif in a melancholy arrangement, together with violins, violas and celli. A harp brings the cue to a gentle close on a dissolve to night and a further dissolve to later that night and a shot of the full moon. Perhaps music could have been used to more accurately mark the passing of time.
The ambience of jungle sounds are heard as an all-encompassing fog descends and the baboon grows nervous. A synth leads off a short cue as the baboon screeches and the film shows a black and white shot of the ape from the lion’s perspective. Brass, strings and percussion join in and halt suddenly as the baboon is silenced – the lion attacked quietly under cover of the fog. The three men are shocked and the lion roars. The lion’s point of view is shown again as it looks up at Patterson, with violins and synthesised percussion crescendo with the strings as an owl flies past Patterson, dislodging him. He falls to the ground, followed by the strings as the lion rushes toward the area. Patterson shoots as the lion pounces and is deflected by the bullet’s impact.
The hunt continues with synth and violins performing the Africa motif, which the celli play harmonically. Bells and brass explode as the lion leaps over a rock at the two men and Remington shoots as Patterson dives out of the way. The synth percussion echoes as the camera shows the dead lion to a triumphant three note string cell with a horn counterpoint. The music tails out as the film cuts to Samuel opening a bottle of champagne. Interestingly, Patterson and Remington swig from the bottles but Samuel, the ‘native’, drinks from a glass.
Cicadas and roaring underpin the non-musical scene as they talk about the bridge and rail works. Upon retiring for the night. Remington tells Patterson “When you meet your son, you hold him high”. The film jump cuts to daylight and chanting workers continuing work. We see Helena with her baby at the station, asking to see her husband. Patterson runs to the station on a warm musical accompaniment, orchestrated for trumpets and strings. A lion roars and percussion and brass enter as the lion runs toward Helena. French horns explode as Patterson runs to save his wife, who is unaware of the approaching danger. Patterson’s look of horror says it all as she is knocked down and torn apart. The music halts as Patterson wakes up yelling from his nightmare. He goes outside, splashes water on his face and sees Remington’s open tent flap.
Strings enter the empty tent with Patterson and he sees blood on the floor as percussion and chanting are scored. He and Samuel then run to find Remington as strings, synth and horns fly over the blood soaked tall grass they find. A mournful oboe with a string pad cover the remains, as does Samuel with his cloak, which play through the dissolve to a funeral pyre. A lion’s roar interjects and the music merges with the sound and chanting. The two remaining men set fire to the surrounding grass and the music tails out on the cut to night. Patterson walks along the bridge and fires his rifle to attract the lion as Samuel walks in the opposite direction.
Suddenly, the lion jumps up through a gap in the bridge on a brass and tam-tam hard hit. Patterson shoots, falls and drops his rifle through a gap as Samuel turns at the commotion. The Irishman shoots with Remington’s hand gun through the gap down at the lion and percussion, violins and a synth follow his line of sight. The music explodes with percussion, chanting, French horns and trumpets as the lion again leaps up and gives chase over the bridge. Patterson scrambles up a tree and the lion climbs up below him. Chanting, brass and the scraped tam-tam play through the desperate climb and Samuel, in an opposite tree, throws his rifle to Patterson. Expectant trumpets follow the weapon’s flight and its subsequent fall to the ground with the anvil and brass.
Patterson desperately jumps from the tree, lands heavily and grabs the rifle. He shoots once at the lion and the injured cat crawls toward Patterson, who is scrambling away and as he is going to pounce on the man, is shot again and expires to a crescendo in the brass. Triumphant horns and strings play the Patterson motif to a clash of cymbals. The film then cuts to the bridge and the grass fire behind as the strings tail out on a dissolve to Patterson in the daylight.
A man approaches Patterson and identifies himself as Nigel Bransford, Starling’s replacement. He shakes hands and says ‘Patterson the lion killer – I do wish I’d been here for the hunt’. “No you don’t” comes the reply. Samuel approaches and says something in his own language to Patterson, who replies in kind. He grins and hands the rifle he holds to Bransford, saying “Welcome to Tsavo, Nigel” and runs towards the station.
Samuel looks at the newcomer disdainfully and snatches the rifle from Bransford as horns, strings and percussion quote the Patterson motif, accompanied by chanting. Patterson greets Abdullah as he passes (the workers are returning) and the English theme appears. He sees his wife waiting on the platform and casts a glance at the surrounding grass, his nightmare playing on his mind. He runs to Helena as the percussion stops and rapturous strings smile with her in the Helena motif and a horn counterpoint joins in a Barryesque rendition. He takes his son and holds him high in the sunlight on a cradle of horns, strings and cymbals.
Samuel’s subsequent voiceover is on a shot of the waving grass as he tells us that the lions can be seen at the Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois. The film dissolves to the workers milling around as Samuel states “Even now, if you dare lock eyes with them, you will be afraid”. Strings and horns present the English theme to a clash of cymbals in a glorious climax. The film then shows a still of the completed bridge, overlayed with the director’s credit to a brass-scored finale as the strings tail out and segue to the end credits. The end crawl is accompanied by an amalgamation of various cues, including the major themes and other musical ideas from the score.
The Ghost and the Darkness inspired an intense and fascinating musical work from Jerry Goldsmith, a multi-faceted score the likes of which aficionados had been lamenting the lack of in the 90’s. The score is nothing less than a perfect musical accompaniment to the action but the film’s only 1996 Oscar win was for Best Sound Editing. Writing in Film Score Monthly, Jeff Bond stated that Goldsmith’s ‘imaginative use of sound’ probably contributed to the win and I feel this is a good bet.
The music’s use in suspenseful situations works well and any ‘mickey-mousing’ is confined to either a halting of the music or an occasional hard hit at key moments. The enlarged percussion section is something not heard to this extent for a long time – THE WIND AND THE LION obviously springs to mind as an example.
The soundtrack album is a very entertaining listen and this is due to the fact that many cues from different sections of the film were edited together. Some tracks were sequenced out of order to the film’s narrative and this highlights the time and thought spent on the album. Five ethnic chants are gathered at the end of the disc, with additional instruments and vocals not used in the sourced chants. The music’s sound recording by Bruce Botnick and performance by the National Philharmonic Orchestra contribute to a successful CD.
THE GHOST AND THE DARKNESS is a highlight in a body of a number of ‘90s scores that have seemed to many lacklustre but that still function adequately in their respective films. This score proves unequivocally to critics that there are many more worthy scores to flow from the pen of Jerry Goldsmith.
• The Man-Eaters of Tsavo (Tie-in edition) by Lt. Colonel J. H. Patterson, DSO. – Pocket Books, New York 1996.
• The Ghost and the Darkness (Novelisation) by Dewey Gram – Pocket Books, New York 1996.
• The Ghost and the Darkness Press Kit – UIP/Paramount 1996.
• The Oxford Companion to Musical Instruments by Anthony Baines – Oxford University Press 1992.
The preceding analysis does not present every cue or scene contained in the film. However, a cue sheet follows that contains timings of each separate cue in the film and the titles are a mixture of those on the soundtrack album and of my own devising. The cue sheet was constructed using the video print of the film, so please bear in mind the difference in frame speeds between film and video.
All timings based on 25 fps
1. Title 1:01
2. Catch a Train 1:52
3. First Time 1:47
4. Arrival At Tsavo 0:29
5. Chant Source 0:33
6. The Rail Works 0:46
7. Chant Source (Iye Oyecha) 0:56
8. The First Lion 0:28
9. One Shot 0:54
10. Chant Source (Safari Ya Bomba) 0:45
11. Mahina’s Sixth Sense 0:53
12. Seven Weeks Later 1:22
13. The Claw Necklace 1:23
14. Mahina is Taken 0:47
15. The Funeral Pyre 0:43
16. Irish Song Source 0:22
17. Eye of the Lion 0:20
18. The Boma 0:50
19. Chant Source (Hamara Haath) 1:29
20. The Watcher 0:50
21. Chant Source 0:52
22. Letter Reading/Stalking Lion 0:42
23. Lion Attack 0:54
24. Starling’s Death 2:55
25. Chant Source (Jungal Bahar) 0:33
26. Night in the Contraption 0:23
27. Three Men in a Contraption 0:50
28. Lion Escapes 0:16
29. Remington Whistling 0:14
30. Prepare For Battle 1:00
31. Chant Source 0:50
32. Chant Source 2:50
33. Chant Source 0:22
34. Hunting Party 1:14
35. The Hunt Part I 1:22
36. The Hunt Part II 1:19
37. Misfire 0:05
38. Petrified 0:32
39. Unproven Rifle 1:09
40. The Bait 1:26
41. Lion at Hospital 0:43
42. The Hospital 1:40
43. Get The Lock 0:10
44. The New Hospital 1:25
45. Aftermath 2:38
46. The Necklace 0:46
47. The Bullies 1:03
48. Lions’ Den Part I 2:18
49. Lions’ Den Part II 0:47
50. Merry Christmas 0:43
51. Lion Sees Baboon 0:36
52. Lion Sees Patterson 0:58
53. The Hunt Continues 1:13
54. Chant Source (Terere Obande) 0:08
55. The Nightmare 1:17
56. Remington’s Death 2:19
57. Final Attack 2:33
58. Welcome To Tsavo 2:57
59. End Credits 6:32