Soundtrack Review

IT has been over twenty five years since the release of Escape to Victory, perhaps one of the most misunderstood and unusual cult classics of modern cinema. Many people still gawk at the idea of footballers trying to act, or actors trying to play football, and most write off the film without a seconds thought,  Ask a football fan however, and they will smile at you fondly, because this film touches a nerve, and hits that sweet spot, and a lot of this is down to the fantastic score by Bill Conti.

Escape to Victory was no lightweight, its cast included the extremely talented Michael Caine, Sylvester Stallone and Max Von Sydow. It was directed by the venerable John Huston, and scored by the man who penned the Rocky theme only a few years previously. Producer Fields knew exactly what he was doing, especially when he employed the services of some of the worlds greatest footballers, which even today give this film maximum appeal.

The score, currently released in a 3000 run limited edition by Prometheus Records (link), is a true testament to Conti's skill as a composer. His work fits the film like a glove, highlighting the triumphs and struggles of the picture with acute accuracy.

The opening theme to the film is so vibrant and pacey, with the brass section used to full effect, the lends the film the feeling of an epic, however it is the match music where Conti shows his full understanding, underpinning the action brilliantly, and getting the tone perfect. The bulk of the soundtrack covers the music from the match scenes and so you get the full rollercoaster of music as the drama of the game unfolds.

With influences including those of Shostakovich, whose symphonies had a strong political emphasis, and who used engaging strings and horn sections to maximum effect, Conti has produced a piece of work that fully brings out the tragedies and triumphs of the match scenes in such a way that you can not help but be drawn in on the action, and suffer the injustices faced by the allied team, or their determination in the face of overwhelming odds in the second half, every high and low is beautifully felt by the score, every goal, every buildup, leading up to the crescendo that is the Pele goal.

Its been a true criminal act, that this film has not been released in football mad Europe for well over 17 years, and even more so that this classic film score has not been available until now. It is well worth investing in, although fans may find it a little short, with just over 32 minutes of music from the film, however it does also include three alternative versions of some of the tracks. It is a fine soundtrack, from a classic film, and a good example of Conti's style and talent for capturing the emotions of a film perfectly.

Steven Nickells

Track List
1. Main Title 3:27
2. The Team Uniforms 2:11
3. Match\'s Getaway 2:29
4. The Paris Express 3:29
5. Team Outing 4:13
6. Krauts on a Roll 2:02
7. Don\'t Leave 2:15
8. Let\'s Go Guys 4:54
9. Start Kick 1:18
10. Match\'s Revenge 2:42
11. End Credits 3:39
12. The Team Uniforms (Alternate) 2:12
13. Let\'s Go Guys (Alternate) 4:54
14. Match\'s Revenge (Alternate) 2:42