* Prices may differ from that shown
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier came out in 1989 and was highly anticipated by fans, especially since the last three Trek films had been such successes and The Next Generation TV series (airing since 1987) had also been gaining in popularity with mainstream audiences. Directed by William Shatner, this would be the first original crew feature in the new Enterprise-A, filled with religious mysticism, Klingons and a misguided Vulcan in search of Eden, Shangri-La, or whatever other names were given in the film. So everything seemed to be in order; alas, the film was a great disappointment. It fared extremely badly and has been often called the worst Star Trek movie ever. It simply does not strike any of the right buttons the previous Star Trek films did on any point. The comedy seemed forced, overwhelming the dramatic aspects of the story, the special effects were lousy, there were numerous editorial mistakes very visible, the story of Spocks half-brother Sybok trying to get to God he believes is living behind a mysterious Barrier in space and with this in mind schemes to highjack the Enterprise in order to get there while hypnotizing everybody to support him, was laughable. In other words, it falls short from being entertaining, involving, or anything youd want to see again, and perhaps is well proved how Shatners commentary often mentioned how different scenes didnt go particularly the way he had wanted. But if there is anything at all good in the production it has to be the music of Jerry Goldsmith. Goldsmith had not composed for a Star Trek movie since the first feature of 1979, and having him as composer for this new Trek film was an obvious choice. His main theme for Star Trek had already become famous as the signature music for The Next Generation TV series, very much more famous at the time than Alexander Courages original TV theme, not to mention he was more than apt for composing music for this genre. However, whereas the first movie was slow and more thoughtful, with long sequences virtually without dialogue, Trek V was an action film first and foremost.
For all things considered the main theme Goldsmith came up with in response to the producers wish for a heroic Star Wars like fanfare is much better suited for a film of this kind. The theme was perhaps a little too heroic for a slow going film like the first and in Star Trek V it finally lives up to its full potential. One of the first things you may note of the score for The Final Frontier is the notable improvement in sound quality. As this was a Goldsmith score, he was also likely to bring his usual crew along with him and this included recording engineer Bruce Botnick. The recorded sound of Trek V is outstandingly good, and exists lightyears away from the tinny and almost completely inept recordings of Dan Wallin for the previous three films. The score sounds full, immediate, dynamic, and grandiose, yet never mushy or sounding as if it has been recorded under water. This comes perfectly to the fore with the main title performance of the main theme that remains the best version of that theme I have heard in practically any of the other Goldsmith Treks. Of greater interest in this film, though, is the Klingon theme, introduced in the opening sequence of the original Motion Picture. Due to the greater importance the Klingons played in this film the theme is also utilized more often and adds a real sense of dread to the music (though unfortunately the on-screen action fails to reach the same). To this day there has been no equal to the noble yet savage sound of Goldsmiths Klingon theme, although I must say the weird screaming horns used with this theme in this film are strangely amusing. Thirdly there is the theme for the Great Barrier/God, featuring the most apparent use of a synthesized choir and has that flowing lyrical feeling that is characteristic of Goldsmiths 1980s efforts. A Busy Man in particular is a truly impressive cue that opens with a long misterioso passage before the Barrier theme appears on the synth choir and is then taken over sweepingly by the orchestra. Even the Klingon theme makes a wonderfully veiled showing as the Bird-of-Prey makes an appearance on an Enterprise monitor in the background.
Apart from a very few moments of more uninteresting underscore, Goldsmiths approach was very economical and to the point. The gentle pastorale following the main title march in The Mountain is one of sustained beauty that is another quite characteristic Goldsmith melody. Open the Gates on the other hand is one of those percussive action cues with piercing brass and great rhythmic drive, while Without Help is an exciting and dramatic highlight with great bursts of thematic grandeur, making for a fantastic four minutes of listening. The four-note adversity motif (a motif that would be transported to other Goldsmith scored Treks as well) appears quite often, particularly at the beginning of A Busy Man and with some interesting extensions and brassy might in An Angry God. It must be said that this motif might prove a slight detriment due to its repetitive nature throughout the score, but is not really a huge point of criticism to make the music unenjoyable. The end credits, under the title Life is a Dream, is missing the Barrier theme and those weird horns from the Klingon theme, but it forms a rousing conclusion to the score proper and introducing the general format of all the future end credits suites Goldsmith would compose for Star Trek.
Star Trek V was one of the last soundtrack albums released on LP with the CD format taking over the market completely in the ensuing years. Trek V is a fairly ordinary album release with some 43 minutes of music included and featuring unusually stripped liner notes (well, there are no notes in fact, but you know what I mean). Despite the short running time there is really nothing that phenomenal missing, mainly thanks to Goldsmiths precise scoring. If there is anything to complain about the release, it is the inclusion of the horrible pop song The Moons a Window to Heaven by Hiroshima. Heard as a little snippet in the film (a particularly embarrasing scene involving a naked Uhura), it is completely misplaced in the film and album. It is a model example of the usual type of song that is plastered on soundtrack albums in hopes that it would attract more people to buy it, but more often than not failing utterly. As a curious coincidence, of all the Star Trek movies with the original crew, the ones that utterly bombed were endowed with a Jerry Goldsmith score. Likewise the films that followed them (II and VI) are some of the best in the series and contain some of the best Trek scores as well by total newbies. Not to mention both follow-ups were directed by Nicholas Meyer. Ironic that Goldsmith was stuck with the clunkers of the series, but thankfully managed to create something that gives the movies (especially the latter) something of value. Certainly not quite on the level of his score for The Motion Picture, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier is a very accomplished effort and a worthy inclusion to the Star Trek score canon.
1. The Mountain (3:54)
2. The Barrier (2:54)
3. Without Help (4:21)
4. A Busy Man (4:42)
5. Open the Gates (3:03)
6. An Angry God (6:58)
7. Lets Get Out of Here (5:15)
8. Free Minds (3:20)
9. Life is a Dream (3:59)
10. The Moons a Window to Heaven (performed by Hiroshima) (4:00)
Music Composed and Conducted by Jerry Goldsmith
Orchestrations by Arthur Morton
Music Recorded by Bruce Botnick
Music Recorded at Record Plant Scoring, Los Angeles, CA
Music Editor: Ken Hall
Epic Records, 1989 (EK 45267)
© berlioz, 2005/2007
Disc #1 Tracklisting
3 Without Help
4 Busy Man
5 Open the Gates
6 Angry God
7 Let's Get Out of Here
8 Free Minds
9 Life Is a Dream
10 Moon's a Window to Heaven - Hiroshima