Night Crossing was a Cold War drama based on the
true story about two families that escaped East Germany into
West Germany in 1979. The incredible danger the two families
faced was trying to cross the Berlin Wall, which they succeeded
in doing in a hot air balloon! Jerry Goldsmith signed on for
this exciting Disney Adventure and provided one of his most thrilling
and tense scores to what added to a memorable year of his music.
The score consists of two major thematic ideas, one being a driving
unison string ostinato representing the pursuit of the 'Nazi
like' East German SSD and the ominous Wall itself. The other
being a theme of hope and courage for the Strelzyk and Wetzel
families' and their escape in their home made balloon.
Goldsmith's elaborate score
effortlessly conveys the diverse elements of the dramatic story,
primarily the exhilaration and wonder of flight, occasionally
hinting at his triumphant score to The Blue Max. While
a flourishing waltz, highlighted by Accordion, expresses the
peaceful German countryside and the families' lives, and is a
little reminiscent of The Boys From Brazil. While the
composer's suspense writing is second to none, here in particular
Goldsmith meats out some wild orchestral workouts, notably during
the violent Main Title theme, his most aggressive opening
since Capricorn One.
First Flight remains a standout cue combining hope and
despair in equal measure as the Strelzyk family fails to cross
over and instead crashes into the border zone just short of the
West. Some passages sound ominous and could be influenced by
Dimitri Kabalevsky, especially the haunting low brass chords
progressing almost like a Russian male choir as the Strelzyk
family realises they have to wait it out until morning so as
not to be found. The Patches is one of Goldsmith's finest
cues in the film where the family theme is given a melancholy
treatment with touching woodwind and horn solos.
Goldsmith's understanding of how a score can give a scene momentum
is apparent in a latter sequence when the SSD is closing in and
about to uncover their attempt to escape during the movie's final
act. At this point the score builds into nail biting intensity
(No Time To Wait) with a spiralling piano figure as one
of the Strelzyk's neighbours, who has been working for the SSD,
realises that the attempting defectors have been under his nose
the entire time.
Intrada originally released the score in 1987, one of a series
of rare unreleased soundtracks by Jerry Goldsmith made available
for the first time. They then re-issued the score in 1994 as
a limited edition CD adding 8 new cues which included some memorable
missing suspense cues; Short Of Time and The Car as
well as the previously missing Prologue and End Credits.
But equally important they discovered a superior source and re-mastered
the score completely. Gone is the dull, closed in sound, now
the score literally soars and the playing by NPO sounds simply
Night Crossing remains a memorable outing for Jerry
Goldsmith as he delivers a powerful testament to the courage
and commitment of two families sacrificing their all in the slender
hope of attaining something most of us take for granted - freedom.