Visit the Movie Wave Store | Movie Wave Home | Reviews by Title | Reviews by Composer | Contact me
GEORGE AND THE DRAGON
Sweeping, large-scale fantasy score
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
* * * *
Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2004 Waltzing-Parke Productions Sarl; review copyright (c) 2008 James Southall
The words "Starring Patrick Swayze" on an opening title scroll are pretty much able to provoke a reaction in the calmest of people as they dive to locate their remote control and change the channel at the earliest opportunity, but truly he isn't the most embarrassing thing about the pitiful George and the Dragon, which I'm proud to say was funded partially by me (along with my fellow British taxpayers). Good to see my money being used on this instead of, say, building hospitals. As you might have guessed from the film's name, it's about old St George, and his slaying of the legendary dragon - and all that jazz. But forget about the film, because its only worthwile element can now be savoured in isolation - its fine music.
Gast Waltzing is not a composer whose name will be familiar to many - he has scored less than 20 films in a career lasting as many years, and few of them have been released in America or Britain. The Luxembourg-born composer, though, can be proud of his efforts on George and the Dragon, which tower above the film and - thanks to the ever-enterprising Swedish film music label MovieScore Media - can now be enjoyed on their own terms, either through the limited edition CD or through download from their website.
The score actually gets off to a rather misleading start, with the modern celtic sounds of the titles and "Celtic Monk" painting a somewhat misleading picture. Fortunately that side of things disappears as soon as it's arrived (the last thing the world needs is another celtic fantasy score) to be replaced by some great, old-fashioned orchestral adventure music. The first striking thing is the glorious, sweeping theme in "Coming Home", sure to please a wide range of fans, from those who love John Barry at his most rapturously romantic to those who love Trevor Jones's fantasy scores.
Where Jones's fantasy scores generally fall down is not through any deficiency in the theme stakes - he has no problem producing those - but in the generally bland underscore. No such problems here. Whether in the fearsome action music or sweeping romance, Waltzing has no problem maintaining interest. The occasional use of modern percussion accompaniment can be slightly jarring, but otherwise the Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra is put through its paces and acquits itself with aplomb. The functional track titles disguise the thrilling music they contained, and two fine examples are "Meet Princess" and "Rescue Princess" - the former a sumptuous extended presentation of the love theme, the latter including some terrific action music with orchestra augmented by choir.
The battle music is often surprising in its sprightliness - "Battle and Birth" has an unexpectedly cheerful quality which makes the vaguely Lord of the Rings-style action take on a fresh air. This continues in the terrific "Last Battle", which has a real old-fashioned quality to it (and I mean that in the best possible way). It's an impressive album, yet another showcase from this record label of a score for a little-seen film by a little-known composer which is genuinely worth hearing. In one way it's a shame that so many of the big blockbusters are scored by complete non-entities while composers of real talent are left toiling on films like this, but at least in the current climate we are able to hear their music anyway. This is a fine release.