When the news broke that
Jerry Goldsmith's score to Timeline would not be used
and a replacement score would be sort the film music community
was in a state of shock and Goldsmith fandom especially, were
livid. The composer had suffered a handful of rejected scores
in his long career but this one seemed to beggar belief. Those
associated with the film, and attendees of the recording sessions
had been unanimous in their praise for the score and it was thought
that the only thing to be announced after its recording was a
date for the soundtrack album to be released. Sadly it wasn't
to be as Timeline the movie was in trouble and last minute
changes in the edit, and a decision by the director to ask for
a grittier more action orientated score meant dramatic changes
would be required. It appears Goldsmith was offered the chance
of a re-score but turned it down feeling his job had been done.
Donner, in interview, was generous with his praise for Goldsmith,
and his score, taking responsibility for the rejection saying
that Goldsmith had done what he had asked; to write a very specific
kind of score, that played down the action, and in his words
was a very strong orchestral piece. But when Donner laid it up
to the picture he felt the score needed to be much more aggressive
and full on.
Now that we can listen to Jerry Goldsmith's Timeline one
thing becomes patently obvious from the out set; this was hardly
a score lacking in any area, especially action! When required
Goldsmith delivered some powerful moments, his epic 11 minute
finale is testimony to that. If truth be known there was nothing
wrong here at all and apart from the edits this score worked
perfectly well. Of course when Timeline was finally released
late in 2003, with its new score, the film had not improved,
was mauled by critics and flopped at the box office. Ironically
the only thing being praised or discussed was Jerry Goldsmith's
The Dig opens the score and was intended for the exercised
opening sequence. It remains one of the composer's most mesmerising
main titles and the strongest cue of the entire score. Goldsmith
creates a chilling but very organic piece with transparent strings
coated by ethereal electronic samples and punctuations. As the
piece builds traditional orchestral forces abruptly interrupt
with violent percussion signalling a dramatic new motif, powerfully
performed in the brasses.
Corn flakes establishes a sentimental theme which I assume
was destined for the relationship between Chris Johnson and his
Professor Father. It's one of those effortless themes for Mike
Lang's piano that is instinctively Goldsmith, as much as his
action music is.
No Pain establishes the 'painful' time travelling procedure
that must be endured to travel back to 1357. This is the weakest
of Goldsmith's ideas and the only real problem with the score.
It's here Goldsmith recycles his Deep Rising 'tentacle'
music, which of course also surfaced in Star Trek Nemesis.
This is abruptly followed up by the cue After Him (also
incorrectly known as I'll Come ) in which the time travellers
arrive and are soon pursued by English Knights. Here Goldsmith
introduces us to his four note action motif (reminiscent of Chain
Reaction) with a short but bombastic set piece for
percussion jostling with brass and the warped sound of a synthesised
'ram horn' for a desperate forest chase.
To Castlegard is joined by the latter sequence Four
Hours. The first part of the cue is an enjoyably catchy melodic
presentation of Goldsmith's main Castlegard theme, the second
part a brooding secondary theme for high strings building to
an elaborate coda. While Find Marek, and an alternate
take of Quick Action make up the next cue. The first part
is a short but breathless action piece as the group search for
their lost comrade. The second part is an aggressive workout
for the Castlegard theme and establishes the siege of the English
For The Rooftop Goldsmith creates a suspenseful four minute
sequence as one of the team escapes from a prison cell and carefully
makes her way over the fragile roof. Goldsmith's effective cue
is for the most part perfectly low key but stabbing action quickly
comes to the fore as the other prisoners battle the guards; Goldsmith
providing elaborate brass exclamations for the hand to hand combat.
A Hole In The Wall continues the escape from the prison
and during the chaos created by the break, the team attempt to
return to the present. Goldsmith re-introduces his synth 'ram
horn' effect but again traditional brass dominate and are soon
reinforced by the remainder of the orchestra.
Move On provides a rest bite from the action and a chance
for Goldsmith to develop his main theme into a soothing love
theme for Lady Claire and Marek. Goldsmith's touching arrangement
for winds and strings does well to avoid the trappings of his
earlier medieval triumphs; Lionheart and First Knight.
The latter portion of the cue returns to the action as the rest
of the group are re-captured and returned to Castle La Roque.
Goldsmith again instigates his Castlegard theme with 'ram horn'
effect but again emphasises orchestral forces for the dramatic
The next cue; Be Careful (which should actually be called
Ambushed) focuses on more action with the Castlegard
theme presented more as a fanfare this time. The cue titled Ambushed
is again a naming error and should actually be called Setting
Up, intended for the scene where the English forces prepare
for the coming battle. Goldsmith again adapts the Castlegard
theme for a short but commanding workout, a particular crisp
cymbal crash is a notable highlight. Next comes Setting Up
but is in fact Be Careful! This is a gentle variation
on the love theme for Lady Claire and Marek but instead of winds
it's clarinet that's the focus this time, supported by lush strings.
The second part of the cue ignites an exciting tempo for minor
electronics and strings as Goldsmith renders a desperate variation
of the main theme.
Greek Fire and Light The Arrows sets up the finale
in which the Professor is forced to 'invent' Greek Fire to use
against the French in order to save his friends. Goldsmith's
cue begins ominously but an heroic variation of the Castlegard
theme soon cuts in with horns, almost sounding victorious, for
the advancing French forces. While Light The Arrows introduces
the exciting action music that will become the mainstay of the
The spectacular climax is set to a mammoth two cue onslaught
made up of Prepare For Battle and Victory For Us.
The night attack on Castle La Roque is the film's only major
set piece and Goldsmith created a rousing call to arms developing
a propulsive rhythmic action motif over a staggering 11 minutes.
Goldsmith's percussion and bellowing brass lead attack never
lets up, strings and electronics provide secondary motifs, but
it isn't long before the avalanche of timpani returns to propel
the music forward to a rousing and satisfying finish.
Goldsmith closes the score with a short but heartfelt variant
on the love theme, entitled To My Friends. This of course
was intended for the final scene as the time travellers return
to the present day and discover a message on an ancient stone
casket left by their absent comrade Marek, who stayed behind
with Lady Claire.
Jerry Goldsmith's Timeline remains an impressive and workmanlike
score and showed how much Goldsmith still had to say. It also
showed that even as his health was failing him he still was able
to fashion good film music and command attention. Stylistically
it reminds me of how much I'll miss Jerry Goldsmith's approach
to scoring Hollywood movies and how sad it makes me that this
is the last 'new' score I'll ever hear from the composer.
As a Goldsmith enthusiast I am indebted to all involved for releasing
this score. Special thanks go to Robert Townson for his tireless
efforts to preserve Jerry Goldsmith's Timeline, and for
assembling the majority of key cues into a soundtrack album.
Though I would have been tempted to include the likes of The
Mural and It's Time. I would also thank Richard Donner
for generously admitting he was wrong and no doubt supporting
this release. And last but not least the late composer who actually
made a rare request to Varése to get this score released
to his fans. Thank you Jerry.