A marvelous but curious film, no one in 1985 really knew what to make of Return To Oz, and thirty years later many still don't. It has far murkier tones than what many view as its predecessor, although it's rather an adaptation of L. Frank Baum's original books, which have a similar tone. It might have been a strange choice to select David Shire (of The Taking of Pelham One Two Three fame) for the score, however he had worked with director Walter Murch on Coppola's masterpiece The Conversation, and Shire had covered fantasy material on films such as the previous year's 2010.
What followed was an absolute masterwork of scoring. Shire is as much at ease writing symphonically as he is for more contemporary methods, and this shines through what is a gorgeous and both emotionally and aesthetically rich soundtrack. He wrote dozens of themes, but grounded Oz with two very different pieces, both rooted in Americana but one more centred on both Dorothy's adventurous nature and melancholic solitary. Meeting this is some beautifully realised fantasy music mixed with music of the ragtime area, giving it a familiar but still heightened base.
Intrada present David Shire's score in complete form, mastered from original tapes for an unbelieveably rich and full sound. It's impossible to overstate how great this score is, and how much kudos should go to Intrada for restoring Return To Oz to its complete glory on its thirtieth anniversary. Go listen, Toto.
Return To Oz is available on CD from Intrada Records