Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2012 March 05 • Monday

Van Cleave's score for Robinson Crusoe on Mars is the 207th Soundtrack of the Week.

It's heartbreaking that Film Score Monthly will cease to produce CDs this year. They have five or six to go until they release their 250th title, after which they're calling it quits. Who else will put out records like this?

The record begins with some straightforward dramatic music but soon becomes haunting, eerie and strange with "Martian Night" and "Search for Shelter". At times the music recalls Bernard Herrmann's scores for films such as Journey to the Center of the Earth.

"Search for Partner" is, except for one brief moment of false hope, devastatingly sad, as is the corresponding moment in the film.

Van Cleave's rich and unusual orchestrations give the score a thick, colorful texture throughout, but are most rewarding in cues such as "Homeward Trek / Return to the Cave", "Lonely Lights", "Water Hazard" and "Snow Storm".

At the end of the disc are some bonus tracks, some easy listening music that the main character plays on his tape recorder, three bagpipe renditions of "Dixie" and an organ performance to accompany a reading of Psalm 23.

Robinson Crusoe on Mars is an interesting movie that presents a mostly uncompromising and realistic portrait of a castaway struggling for survival. Loneliness, frustration and endurance are the main themes. The story is mapped on Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, and Defoe receives a screen credit.

I'm lucky enough to have seen it on the big screen when I was a teenager, at the Boston Science Fiction Film Marathon.

The audience was delighted to see Adam West, who has a few scenes.

The special effects are excellent and it's a great adventure movie.