Classic Movie Themes: The Black Hole
The Black Hole was a major gamble for Disney back in 1979 as they tried to capitalise of the post Star Wars sci-fi boom. Although audiences are still split over the strange mix of anthropomorphic robots, armchair philosophising and the one of the most metaphysical endings ever filmed, John Barry's score is universally praised. It features all his hallmark musical signatures and greatly embellishes the on-screen action with its stately and portentous style. There is also a substantial amount of music, with over an hour of cues for the ninety eight minute running time. This was the second space themed score that Barry wrote that year, the first being Moonraker, the eleventh Bond film.
The "main title" theme for The Black Hole is in some ways one of the most compelling and grand themes crafted by veteran composer John Barry. It has an ominous majesty to it with its off-kilter waltz. It’s a skillful blending of orchestra with synthesisers which was quite an innovative style at the time. It has an altogether eerie ambience that neatly sets the tone for the movie, which was quite a bold experimental piece of studio cinema. Barry did not make the mistake of simply trying to replicate the grandeur of John Williams Star Wars theme but instead constructs something far more Gothic.
“Durant is Dead,” is a major shift in musical cue and it clearly signals the start of the movies climatic third act. Its pounding brass and substantial rhythm is unmistakably Barry. Once again the piece has a sinister overtone, forcing the audience to contemplate the fact that the heroes may not be able to avert disaster and events may not end well. It is important to remember that this was a Disney production so the target audience more than likely came to the theatre with clear preconceptions regarding style and tone. Barry's skill as a composer contributed to standing those notions on their head.