If Jerry Goldsmith crafted
his music to match the quality of the films he scores, his oeuvre
would contain few masterpieces. But his position as one of the
great film music composers arises from the fact that so many
of his scores stand apart from their films and surpass them.
In the case of Goldsmith's score, the composer could have taken
the easy road and simply re-used ideas from the first two movies,
but like the Final Conflict of the Omen trilogy,
Rambo III inspired Goldsmith to write a complex and innovative
score, utilising both traditional orchestral forces juxtaposed
with Asian instruments and electronics to pepper his music with
a connection to the hostile, but beautiful landscapes (Peshawar,
Afghanistan and Under and Over).
The meditational tranquillity of Rambo's new life is introduced
in the opening cue (Another Time), with the First Blood
theme reprised on trumpet, but this time with strings replacing
the original guitar arpeggios. Goldsmith develops his melody
into something hauntingly beautiful, surrounding it with sweet
strings to extract every drop of pathos for the Rambo
character. Later Goldsmith extends the theme to capture the futility
of war with both Questions and the mournful Aftermath,
surpassing even First Blood's It's A Long Road
theme for sheer emotional impact.
Preparations builds layer upon layer of instruments: strings,
synthesisers, abstract stabs of flute, ethnic and militaristic
percussion in one of Goldsmith's most complex cues. This 'building'
carries through the entire score at every level. Starting gently
and melodically, it subtly increases in tension, and becomes
action music proper only in the second half of the score.
Fans of Goldsmith's action music will not be disappointed as
Rambo wages another one man war erupting during a series
of thunderous cues (Night Fight, Flaming Village,
Final Battle, The Game) with virtuosi playing from
brass, percussion and winds. The score closes with the superb,
but unused end title music; I'll Stay as Goldsmith bids
a fond farewell to Rambo and his theme.
The original soundtrack was released on the Scotti Brothers label
with a mix of songs and a very short portion of the score (27mins).
Add to that the Hungarian orchestra was no match for the National
Philharmonic and consequently a number of major cues were never
used, instead being replaced by music from Rambo II, though
poorly edited into the picture. At the time Goldsmith fans were
enraged and so was Doug Fake, who five years later issued this
complete score CD allowing fans to finally evaluate and enjoy
Goldsmith's mammoth work. But that wasn't the end of the story
and in 2004 Intrada released another version with a superior
re-mastered sound and new artwork. Finally in 2018 a newly
re-mastered version using the first generation masters was released.
At one point this was to have included a slightly different version
of Another Time and the album edit of Preparations but
this would have meant a 2 CD set and there was nothing else to pad
out the 2nd disc.
Rambo III may seldom be mentioned in the company of Goldsmith's
more recognised classics such as Islands in the Stream
or The Wind and the Lion, et al, but Rambo III
is a masterpiece of the genre and an epic work nonetheless.