Musings About Music In Film

Judge Dredd

By Charlie Brigden 02

Many people have tried to forget Judge Dredd, especially with the fairly recent arrival of Dredd 3D. It's not a well-liked film, but personally I think it's a decent flick that has a great look to it because it actually looks like the comic, i.e. colourful. The less said about Rob Schneider the better, but the best thing about the film is Alan Silvestri's Wagnerian score, now released in a complete edition by Intrada Records.

Silvestri's music is really the complete opposite of the Paul Leonard-Morgan electronic score from the reboot. This is a good thing as both films are completely different, with the latter calling for a less flashy and complex score - Morgan's music was okay for the film, although it's absolutely outshined by DROKK: Music Inspired By Mega-City One, the concept album that came out of the unused score for Dredd 3D, but it's really boring to listen to. In contrast, Silvestri's is a great listening experience, especially expanded.

At the time of release the score was issued on a CD with a bunch of songs from bands like The Cure and Cocteau Twins. Relegated to the end of the album, there wasn't much there, and none of it was actually from the film. Originally the score was recorded in London, but the film was brought back to LA and those sessions were revised, with the latter used in the film. The LA sessions are now on record for the first time and they sound great.

The score is headed by two themes for the title character; one a powerful ostinato that seems to capture the kind of fascism satire that drenched pages of 2000AD, the other a more overtly heroic piece with an air of traditional fanfare typical of the action scifi movies of the 80s and 90s. What's interesting is the amount of brass used, the score really does feel like it's reacting to the heightened vast landscape the film takes place in, and Silvestri's writing captures that theatricality with a spring in his step. It also takes on a true epic quality, as much as that word is overused.

'Judgement Day' is a piece that sounds massive, with the huge choral section and soaring high brass giving it an almost overwhelming feel, while 'The Law' uses intimate strings and woodwinds, especially with the heroic theme. 'Dredd's Arrest' has a similar feel, and this creates a solid emotional foundation that allows the score to breathe. Intrada's edition sounds much better because these cues are in there, so it's not just non-stop heroic motifs.

The Intrada CD is a fantastic album, putting the film score on disc one, along with the trailer scored by Jerry Goldsmith*, which is a great extra. Disc two holds alternates and the original sessions. It's a wonderful listen, it sounds amazing, and the wealth of material allows you to really understand the development of Silvestri's writing across both recording sessions. Intrada are killing it this year, and Judge Dredd is another example of the quality they're putting into their releases.

Judge Dredd is out now from Intrada

*The initial pressing featured a re-recorded version of the trailer conducted by Joel McNeely, this has since been rectified