Alien to Prometheus: Past to Present Music Review


Any fans of the Alien series of films, books, games, and comics will almost immediately recognize certain musical cues from the movies.  They may not knowwhich film they came from (there are a lot to choose from now) but the mood, colors, and signature feel is often unmistakable.  Jerry Goldsmith started the audio brand back in 1979 with Ridley Scott at the helm.  In 2012 Scott returned to the franchise with composer Marc Streitenfeld to score the prequel.

When you place the two side-by-side many of the tracks could easily be interchangeable.  Streitenfeld’s music, while more ambient at times, stands next to Goldsmith’s work as equal or in some cases, better.  Goldsmith was creating something new and different and was also unaided by modern conveniences like computers, so when taking that into account it’s hard to see how he can’t be called the master on this occasion.  A few times Goldsmith takes advantage of delay effects (echo to the layperson), in some cases quite creatively, but past that there’s very little going on that isn’t done with a traditional orchestra.  The scoring is unparalleled and the intensity of feeling is absolute. Goldsmith manages to keep harmony and melody present while still attacking the audience’s limbic system percussively.

To contrast Streitenfeld’s score is more brooding and noise-laden.  They are two different films and it could be argued that Streitenfeld played to what he saw on the screen or read in the script.  One stand-out point is Streitenfeld’s use of the chorus.  Haunting, wordless vocals are used throughout his score to evoke various moods and the chorus is frequently combined with other instruments to create non-traditional orchestral textures.  There is some use of computers in his score, but it’s done so deftly that it’s hard to pinpoint them even when listening for it.  Streitenfeld is at a 10 year disadvantage when comparing careers.  Goldsmith had been working in film and television for 25 years when he did Alien.  Who knows, in another 10 years Streitenfeld may be the household name that Jerry Goldsmith was for much of his career.  Time will tell.  Regardless, Streitenfeld’s work will stand tall with many other talented composers in the Alien series.


Main Title and Hyper Sleep from Alien (1979)

As originally composed and intended by Jerry Goldsmith (Different from Album and Film Version)

Track 1 from the original score of Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus”

Composed by Marc Streitenfeld.