Saturday, September 11, 2010

September 11, 2001: The Sum of All Fears

Phil Alden Robinson's film of Tom Clancy's The Sum of All Fears was delayed from release by the tragic events of 9-11.  The film, which depicted a nuclear attack on the United States by terrorists, was too raw, and far too real after the suicide attacks on the World Trade Center.

It weighed heavily on the minds of the film-makers, as it did on us all.  But one man in particular: Jerry Goldsmith.  At the time of the 9-11 attacks, Goldsmith was conducting his score for The Last Castle," and the emotion that suffused his main theme, he adapted, and turned into a concert-piece entitled "September 11, 2001."

The Sum of All Fears would be the next film he scored.

The music of the video above, underscores the first part of the film depicting an Israeli reconnaissance mission, carrying a nuclear pay-load, being prepped, launched and subsequently blown out of the sky by ground forces, its unexploded fission device then recovered, to be handed over by the terrorist agents hatching the plot.*  Goldsmith previewed the sequence and his first impression was "opera."  Phil Alden Robinson was taken aback by the idea, but trusted Goldsmith enough to let him go with his instincts.

But it was also more than September 11th that was weighing on Goldsmith's mind.  He was dying of cancer, in the middle of an aggressive chemotherapy treatment that would ultimately fail.  He was sick, weak and frail, and concessions were made by Robinson to allow him to finish his work, despite Goldsmith's slowed pace. 

The track, called simply "The Mission," is haunting.   Paul Williams was commissioned to write the lyrics, which were translated to Latin for the libretto, to be sung by Shana Blake Hill, accompanied by choir and full orchestra.

These are the words:

If we could remember
the moment of our birth,
we'd give our voice to song and whispers
and know what life is worth.

Suddenly, there's beauty
in pieces of the past
And sorrow clings to angry questions,
the days of dust at last.

And morning holds us
when worlds come tumbling down
A dance of ghosts and ragged dreams
Spinning 'round
Spinning 'round

If we could remember
the power of the light,
that crippled prayers are sometimes answered
and hope survives the night.

* I would have loved to show the sequence accompanying Goldsmith's work, but Paramount Pictures has enforced its copyright obligations, removing all traces of that sequence from video sites.  Too bad.  The full power of image and music is stunning, and I would encourage anybody reading to seek it out for viewing.

Update-9/11/2011: Here is the sequence from the film.  I have no idea how long it will remain available.


TWise said...

Sum of all Fears was not delayed due to 9/11. When it started shooting early in 2001, it was announced as a summer of 2002 release. They didn't even finish shooting until June or July of 2001, and given all the special effects, there's no way on earth it could have been released in September. Also, they didn't even record Goldsmith's score until early in 2002. So the rumor that it was delayed was always incorrect.

Yojimbo_5 said...

As the commenter stated, TSOAF's was slated for release in Summer 2002, and as it was released in May, 2002, it can hardly be said that it was "delayed." There seems to be some mis-conception that the film was "delayed" (I read the reports of possible delaying that sighted Variety), to make it more politically correct, the theory being that it had to be re-written to have the conspirators be Neo-Nazi's, rather than of Middle East origin, to "appease" potential post 9/11 extremists. Well, TWise says, the filming was completed in June of 2001. The script had long been written, and the film, except for FX and post-production was "in the can."

The movies Big Trouble (which was supposed to open 9/21/2001) and the Schwarzenegger action film Collateral Damage which was originally to open 10/05/2001. At the time those decisions were being made, it was eported that TSOAF might also be delayed. It wasn't.