Classic Movie Themes: Zeppelin
Zeppelin is an often overlooked, World War I action movie made in 1971. Michael York plays a British Officer of Bavarian decent, who goes under cover for British Intelligence to thwart a German plot involving a new prototype dirigible. It's a very straightforward ripping yarn, that benefits greatly from Alan Hume’s superb cinematography. The visual effects credits are a veritable "who's, who" of British artist from the time, featuring the likes of Cliff Richardson, Cliff Culley and Wally Veevers. One of the stand out elements of this movie is the fine score by Roy Budd. Budd was a completely self-taught musician who was hailed as a child prodigy. Over the course of his career Budd wrote a diverse selection of film scores and was adept at many different styles.
Roy Budd's score for Zeppelin is an exercise in smart minimalism with its leitmotif. The main theme with its simple melody, key change and use of military snare drums works wonderfully. It doesn't need to be more complicated than this and beautifully compliments the traditional approach of the movie. Sadly, the tapes of the original recording have subsequently been lost so the main theme is the only piece of music from the soundtrack currently available. It's a shame because the movie has some very robust cues such as the prelude to the German attack on the castle, as well as the assault itself. Perhaps a full re-recording may be made in the future.