The Pride and the Passion

The musical score to the Pride and the Passion by George Antheil
Originally published in Film and TV Music Vol. XVI/No.4 1957
Official publication of the National Film Music Council ©1957

Pride and the Passion

I felt it a rare privilege to be given to compose such a picture as THE PRIDE AND THE PASSION. Here, for once, was a large and completely authentic background picture, laid in Spain of the earliest 1800s, and with a compelling heart interest story as well as a larger story of the Spanish people in revolt against their Napoleonic oppressors.

As it is a Spanish story, and as I believe that a motion picture score must conjure up the very essence of the geography and time of its story – as well as highlight its every important dramatic aspect – I have tried to solve each problem as it came along in an intrinsic Spanish way; if I found that I was merely composing dramatic music to fit the scene, I rewrote it until it became Spanish dramatic music to fit the scene.

For instance, the theme of the great gun of the picture becomes intrinsically Spanish; it remains so for the remainder of the picture’s score. The “Gun Theme”, incidentally, is one of the main themes of the picture, for the gun is as much a star of this picture as any of our fine actors and actresses. When first discovered, it is like a ferocious tiger, caught by the tail, killing friend as well as foe. It never ceases being terrifying – though it has its occasional gay moods too, and finally of victory for the Spanish revolutionaries.

The insistent bolero starts unobtrusively at the near-beginning of the picture and intermittently builds up into a final crescendo of victory near the end, during the great battle of Avila. It is the theme of the swelling strength of the uprising against Napoleon. All the themes of the score appear in many versions throughout the picture, but the bolero theme always remains a bolero, in three-fourths time.

It was early apparent that Miguel, played by Frank Sinatra, was the most important character in our picture. And, as he is a strong and rather silent character, unable to express orally his deep devotion for both Spain and Juana (played by Sophia Loren), the music score had to attempt to do some of this for him. Therefore, instead of picking a sinister minor theme, I chose instead a simple heart-warming theme in major, a symbol of the Spanish heart of Miguel. The simple essence of this theme as expressed by the background chorus as Anthony (Gary Grant) deposits Miguel’s dead body at the foot of the statue of Santa Theresa in Avila.

The love theme of Juana and Anthony also hovers in the background of Miguel’s quarrels with Anthony, thereby also becoming, first, an expression of jealousy over Juana, finally of reconciliation between the two men fighting for the same great cause. It is a theme which often must be played at dusk, or night, therefore has a night-like quality of the Spanish plains.

Pride and the Passion

Though it is not an important theme in the picture, “Knife Fight” shows, I hope, how even in the less important parts of the score I constantly attempt to keep the music background intrinsically Spanish — instead of using mere general underscoring. My objective was not merely to underscore an exciting fight, but an exciting Spanish fight. The same principle applies to the battle and the gun-hauling sequences giving, I hope, an all-over feeling of Spain of the period, as well as the dramatic significance and action of the picture. This would also apply to “The Break Through the Pass”, and to the “Beginning of Church Procession”, where the authentic procession music of Spain of the period has been incorporated together with the menacing feeling of the great gun under the float.

Incidentally, with the exception of the well known British tune used as a theme for Gary Grant (Anthony) when he is alone, all themes, Spanish or otherwise, are original. By this I mean that 1 have preferred to compose my own Spanish themes with which I could work more easily than to research them. Even the theme for the French is an original theme and is, of course, not Spanish in color or intention, but rather for the sake of menacing contrast. Otherwise I hope, that 1 have written a score of Spanish music that, despite its use of the well-known Spanish rhythms and typical harmonies, is nevertheless intrinsically my own.

THE PRIDE AND THE PASSION . . . Stanley Kramer Pictures; United Artists. Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra. Produced and directed by Stanley Kramer. Music, George Antheil Conductor, Ernest Gold. Orchestration. Alfred Perry.

THE RECORD

The Pride and the Passion: Music from the Sound Track – Capitol W873.
George Antheil has written a big score for Stanley Kramer’s historical drama, and this album gives an excellent account of its scope and quality. Spanish rhythms and instrumentation colour the splendidly dramatic music, which has an almost operatic character at times. The film’s softer moments are represented by a hushed lovely air for oboe and guitars — “Camp at Night”, and three wistfully melodious segments, expressive of the girl patriot and the two men who love her. A flamenco sequence has a striking accompaniment as the singer’s harsh voice is caught up in the sound of the castanets and tamborines, the dancers’ heel-dicks, the cries of the onlookers. Voices are also effectively used in the religious chorus of a church procession at El Escorial, where extreme tension is reflected by background music in the composer’s most dissonant style. The “Main Title”, “The Knife Fight “, “Rescue of the Gun”, have an indomitable vigor that is epitomized in the selection “The Pride and the Passion – Bolero”, a musical summing up of the spirit of the story.

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