Nick Redman is a consultant at 20th Century Fox Music and Co-Founder of Twilight Time (a Blu-ray label that has built up a catalogue of rare and “forgotten” films), and he produced the 20th Anniversary albums for Star Wars. He speaks to The Luxury Channel about music, movies and the one score that he hopes – some day – to be able to restore….
What are your earliest memories of movies?
My earliest memories of movies are living across the road from the Rembrandt cinema in Ewell, Surrey, and being fascinated by this huge building that contained a strange, fantasy world that changed every week. Among the first films I saw in my childhood were The Magnificent Showman (AKA Circus World), Zulu and A Hard Day’s Night.
Tell us a bit more about the restoration project of the Star Wars score for the 20th anniversary….
The restoration of the music for the original Star Wars trilogy was initiated by LucasFilm’s plan to re-release “Special Editions” of the three films to tie-in with the 20th Anniversary of A New Hope in 1997. This was not the first time I had been involved with Star Wars music – a few years earlier, I had produced a 4-CD “highlights” anthology for Arista Records, which sold a million copies and re-activated the public’s interest in John Williams’s scores and introduced them to a younger generation. In 1993, I had become a consultant to 20th Century Fox Music and was placed in charge of exploiting the back-catalogue. Obviously, the Star Wars universe was a natural place to begin and working with Fox, LucasFilm and Arista, the music was reborn. By 1996, with enthusiasm for the forthcoming Special Editions gaining steam, the decision was made to revisit the scores from scratch — to return to the original multi-track elements and re-present all the music from the three films in chronological order — three 2-CD sets (one for each film) jam-packed with as much material as we could uncover.
What was the hardest part of the project?
The hardest part of the project, as always in any kind of restoration, is the state of the elements and the timeframe in which all the work has to be accomplished. RCA Victor was the label that had outbid everyone else for the right to release the music and we knew we couldn’t miss the release date, which was set more than nine months in advance. I believe we began in April 1996, and were still struggling to get finished by January 1997 when the films were due to open in theaters. All three Star Wars films — A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of The Jedi were coming out in the first quarter and each set of CDs had to meet the required street date.
What was it like working with John Williams?
Technically we didn’t “work” with John Williams – my associate Mike Matessino and I performed the restoration remotely, mostly based at Fox, with Mr. Williams having the right of approval when the masters were generated. My one point of contact with him on the project was at Abbey Road Studios in November 1996, when he was recording new music there for the finale of Return of The Jedi. This was to be incorporated into the film as well as being included on the CD. It was quite a thrill being present at a Star Wars music session!
The release of The Force Awakens will introduce Star Wars – and by extension, the music – to a new generation of fans. Do you agree that some films (and soundtracks) really are works of art, in that their appeal is timeless and in some ways, quite nostalgic?
The release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens will inspire a whole new generation of fans – now that the franchise is owned by The Walt Disney Co., the whole world will be mad for it again. In 1977, John Williams’s brilliantly modern, and yet at the same time old-fashioned, movie score introduced the concept of music in a film to millions of movie-goers that had never thought about it before, and it fundamentally changed how music was used in movies from that point forward. Some movie scores are as much a piece of art as any classical piece in history, and John Williams became de facto the world’s most famous film composer. Trying to imagine movies such as Jaws, Close Encounters of The Third Kind, Superman, E.T., Raiders of The Lost Ark and Schindler’s List et al without their singular scores is literally quite impossible. You mentioned nostalgia and I think that’s it. When we love something – a film or TV show or a piece of music – it is our recollection of it that counts, and whether we recognize it or not, it is the sound of it – working on our subconscious – that really cements the memory.
You’ve restored several titles over the years – what are your highlights?
Over the course of nearly 23 years at Fox Music, we have restored and released on CD more than 600 soundtracks – and the work goes on. Using modern technology, it is possible to put into usable shape many scores that would have been beyond salvation when we started. Some of my favorites include: The Sound of Music, The Day The Earth Stood Still, Cleopatra, The Wild Bunch, Once Upon A Time In America, The King And I, There’s No Business Like Showbusiness, Alien, Aliens, The Towering Inferno, Home Alone and Home Alone 2 — there are too many to remember. One that stubbornly resists restoration because of terrible damage to the stems is Alfred Newman’s glorious score for The Diary of Anne Frank. It breaks our hearts, but we never say never. Maybe some day.
What is more important – the quality of the music or the quality of the sound?
The quality of the music is what counts – not the sound per se. What good is exquisite sound if the composition doesn’t work? When people were able to listen to the earliest Victrolas, it was the music that soared like a bird from the tiniest speaker.
What is your favourite film score, and why?
It is impossible to pick a favorite score – but I’ll go for it. Mind you, I will change my mind tomorrow. Bernard Herrmann’s 1947 The Ghost And Mrs. Muir – a truly glorious marriage of picture and sound. A score so perfectly fitting for a film that it makes you cry just thinking about it. It was one of the first I got to work on at Fox and it will forever be a favorite – I love it beyond all telling. There is a cue in the score called “Andante Cantabile” that I would put forth as one of the best pieces of music ever written. So there!
What is your favourite luxury?
My favorite luxury is being able to go away on holiday and visit some of the most exotic places on Earth.
What are you currently working on?
Well, the restoration of music at Fox continues – a program I am really proud to have been given the opportunity to initiate – but additionally, in recent years I co-founded a company with Brian Jamieson which releases hundreds of movies from various studios on Blu-ray. Our label is called Twilight Time and in a fairly short period, we have built up quite a catalogue. As a life-long film lover, I suppose I was always destined to be at heart a preservationist – bringing things to the public that they might not know of, or may have forgotten. The legacy of film and music is a living thing – constantly adapting and changing – struggling to find new life in an ever more advanced technology. I’m really glad to be part of it all.