Monday, May 12, 2008

Epic Soundtracks / Turkish Star Wars

*For more on 60s/70s cult soundtracks see

before the main event, a perverse appetizer, one long overdue for classical acknowledgment.

Dünyayı Kurtaran Adam (The Man Who Saves the World) is a 1982 Turkish film, part of a wave of low-budget productions from the region which slavishly and at times bizarrely imitated American Hollywood blockbusters, occasionally resorting to flat-out stealing clips from the originals when necessary. The Man Who Saves the World is thus referred to as "Turkish Star Wars", there are likewise Turkish Superman, Star Trek, etc - also Turkish E.T., in which the title character appears not as a lovable, charming plush-toy creature, but a lop-sided, flatulent space potato whose visage makes you cringe when the children hug it.

What is awesome about this clip from Turkish Star Wars shouldn't require much more explanation on my part. I will note that globally speaking, Americans are in the unique position of seeing their own culture bootlegged, imitated, xeroxed into oblivion, more than any other nationality. Like when you go to the market in Marrakesh and they're selling Beebok shoes and it's really funny. I am secretly grateful as an American that there is not some other larger, more cultural impactful country than my own that causes me constant anxiety of influence, whose pop culture I dearly love like delicious junk food but despise and need to distance myself from at the same time.

Thus part of America's cultural fate is the uncanny encounter with stuff like Turkish Star Wars, where we get our own bullshit thrown back at ourselves in mutant form.

By the way, these Turkish films often snip hodge-podge from American soundtracks, throwing them altogether for fun, you can recognize for example "Battlestar Galactica" in the following clip:


These are psychedelically epic, in contrast to either heroically or romantically. I wanted to put some Phillip Glass here but I couldn't download any from itunes and don't own any, inexplicably. The following line-up contains a lot of usual suspects, most of whom are prolific enough to justify combing through some odder folds in the back catalog. Comments appear below, followed by a massive dose of carefully curated clips.

1. Tangerine Dream - Beach Scene (from Thief)

80s synth-soundtrack warlords whose resume in this field is too epic for consideration. Alex B gave me this track, from Michael Mann's Thief, which plays right after James Caan, the titular thief of banks, has just pulled off the sickest heist ever, and he gets to go celebrate on the beach with his woman and James Belushi.

2. Christian Bruhn - Aravanadi - der Baron

Bruhn is a 70s-80s German soundtrack composer, this is for a German kid's TV series called Timm Thaler, an update of the Faust narrative in which the title character sells his laughter to the Baron LeFuet (anagram of "Teufel", German for "Devil").

3. Bo Hansson - Black Riders & Flight to the Ford

Not really for an actual soundtrack, and we've covered it before, but dammit, it's a 70s swedish-prog imaginary soundtrack to Lord of the Rings, and it rules.

4. Ennio Morricone - Fuggire Lontano

A deep boogie TV cue. I don't know much about it. I do know that you should probably get the two-disc "Crime and Dissonance" set that came out a few years ago, because it is well-bugged.

5. Freedom Orchestra - Lucifer Rising, Part I

Part of Kenneth Anger's classic 60s psychedelic Satan movie. The soundtrack was going to be by Jimmy Page originally, but it finally fell to Bobby Beausoleil, who I think recorded part of it in prison or something. Nicely evil. Like not too much evil, like when you eat too much Oatmeal Cookie Chunk ice cream and you lie there like a sickly, friendless whale and think you might barf.

Psst: here's the whole soundtrack. It's a bit mud-fi, but pretty much as triumphantly psych-evil as you're going to get.

Freedom Orchestra - Lucifer Rising

6. Popol Vuh - Aguirre II

From Herzog's film Aguire: The Wrath of God, accompanies the insanely beautiful opening shot. Both Popol Vuh and Herzog have a similar artistic strength, that of engaging with romantic/exoticist/hippie types of tropes and traversing them until they become something beautifully otherworldly. PS: the next time someone in casual conversation disparages the Mellotron, play them this haunting, distant choir that spreads its alien angelic beauty all through the heavens.

7. Goblin - Patrick

Pretty much the best epic soundtrack group ever. I mean, "Suspira"? Those crazy bells and shit? "Patrick" is from the movie of the same name. Guess what? Quiet Village ripped it off for their track "Pillow Talk". They took the scary warbliness out of it and made it a super-chill yacht jam.

8. Terry Riley - In the Summer

From some ponderous 70s eurotrash movie called "Lifespan" starring Klaus Kinski. One of the minimalist master's only film compositions, it's also I think the only track by him that has vocals on it.

9. Giorgio Moroder - Paul's Theme (Jogging Chase) From "Cat People"

Ok do I have to explain who he is? He's like Goethe, he pretty much invented everything. Plus, he produced not only "Take My Breath Away" from Top Gun, but "Call Me" by Blondie from American Gigolo. Damn.

10. Tully - Follow Me from "Sea of Joy"

Some hippie-dip soundtrack to an old Australian surfing movie. I bought this for some reason at Other Music, weirdly mesmerized by the accompanying description, despite the fact that 1. I don't care about hippie-dip folkie folk and 2., it's about surfing in Australia. In any case, most of the soundtrack is a wash, except for this track, because it is suitable moody and dark, and thus epic.

11. Marc Wilkinson - Fiend Discovered and Titles from "Blood on Satan's Claw"

We close with some actual orchestral soundtrack stuff, from a 70s British horror film not dissimilar from "The Wicker Man". Also the soundtrack has nice track titles like "Claw in the Classroom."

Now please enjoy some audio/visual excursions. Where possible, the clips reflect the aforementioned tracks, sometimes they don't because this was not possible, or because I don't care.

Opening to "Lucifer Rising"

Beach Scene from "Thief"

Opening shot from "Aguirre: The Wrath of God"

Final Episode 13 of "Timm Thaler"

"Blood on Satan's Claw"

Dream Sequence from "Cat People"


Christina said...

Best mix yet WR. But what's wrong with a little epic romance and/or heroism, hmm?

Alex B said...

Listen to Tangerine Dream while sipping on Purple Drank. Trust me.

William said...

the good lord himself knows there's nothing wrong with a little epic romance. or heroes in the same way. but being as far as we are from the eyes of god, such things carry little coin in these parts.

Doug Chayka said...

This post is tremendous.

charles darwin said...

hey,just found this page when I was looking up more info on turkish star wars,I think I'll be coming back again,I was wondering if you had any more info on the title track from the film,the synth one at the very beginning,I dont think its a rip off but it might well be,any help would be most appreciated cheers