“Flesh & Blood”
Music By Basil Poledouris
24 Tracks/Disc Time: 73:25
“Flesh and Blood” was acclaimed and controversial director Paul Verhoeven’s U.S. debut in which he and his long time writing partner, Gerald Soeteman were given carte blanche to write and direct a film for the now defunct Orion Pictures who had been wanting to work with the Dutch director for a long time. Reviving an old screenplay they had worked on a decade earlier the film that would ultimately be the last for Soeteman as well as lead actor Rutger Hauer (“Blade Runner”) who had previously worked with Verhoeven on the acclaimed thriller, “Soldier Of Orange” and have not worked together since. The film revolves around Hauer as Martin, a charismatic soldier of fortune who with his merry band of medieval mercenaries take revenge on a noble lord Arnolfini who decides not to pay them for their services by kidnapping Agnes (Jennifer Jason Leigh, “Fast Times At Ridgemont High”) the fiancee of the noble’s son, Steven (Tom Burlinson, “Man From Snowy River”). As Steven rides in search of his beloved, Agnes soon becomes happily engaged in Martin and his mercinaries escapades. Plague and warfare cut a swathe of destruction throughout the land, the mercenaries hole up in a castle and await their fate as Androlfini’s army is on their heels to kill them all. The film has received a new life thanks to the advent of DVD as the film was released in its original letterboxed presentation as well as Verhoeven’s original cut of the film which was cut for the U.S. release of the film.
The film which is surprisingly entertaining and stylish thanks to Verhoeven’s direction, required a grand and masterful score that bristled with energy and as well to represent the Medival period the film takes place in. Basil Poledouris was the composer chosen for this film and the right choice after scoring the memorable “Conan The Barbarian”, a few years earlier that was still the buzz of Hollywood. The score to “Flesh + Blood” isn’t unlike that of Conan’s, but it is a little more light in tone and structurely, it still has the traits of the great predecessor. From the memorable opening, “Main Title” which is both bombastic and medival at the same time setting the tone for the score with a cheerful performance by the London Symphony Orchestra that is very powerful and would get a grand and exceptional finish in “Denouement / End Title” which is grand and epic. The score itself is filled with great moments starting with “Siege of the City”, “Wagon Attack”, “The Box”, “Water/The Undoing”, “Prepare For Battle” and “Androlfini Assault” that feature elements of Conan that are very energetic and dramatic that build up to something very powerful to match Verhoeven’s solid direction within these particular scenes the music really shines. Poledouris also manages to write a neat love theme “Martin And Angus Love Theme” that was inspired by an earlier track, “The Rape” where Poledouris’ gift for melodies in way that is surprisingly romantic.
La-La Land’s reissue of the original Intrada Special Collection album that sold out instantly four years ago is a welcome edition after being previously released by Varese Sarabande (which produced the original 1985 album) as part of their club during the early 1990’s and then expanded by Prometheus Records with decent sound quality. This release is exactly the same content as the Intrada with superior sound and really great to see this very solid score being reissued again for those who missed out on it the first time around. Basil Poledouris was a great, yet underappreciated composer who’s work has really withstood the test of time. “Flesh + Blood” definitely falls into that category and a great reason to rediscover his amazing talent. Strong thumbs up.