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Post #794872

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Info: Alien Anthology - Dolby Digital 4.1 Surround
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Date created
23-Oct-2015, 8:30 AM

I would like to mention something that I’ve noticed in a scene from the movie where the sound mix for that scene is different in the various versions of the film.  This scene occurs around 40 minutes into the film, where the Nostromo crew discovers that the alien blood acts like acid and burns through several desks downward in their cargo ship. 

I feel that the best way to explain this example is to use several links to playable audio WAV files to help illustrate my point.

Now, we all know that Alien’s music track contains not only portions of original music for the film, but also music from another film, Freud (1962), both of which were done by Jerry Goldsmith.

In this link is the music cue from Freud that was used in said scene.

Here is a portion of the original music from Alien that was intended to be used in said scene.

At the point in that scene where the crew has just entered into another deck, trying to find where acid-like blood is coming from, we hear both the Freud music cue and the Alien music cue mixed together.

In this audio file is a recreation of how the Freud and Alien music cues are merged together in the finished film.

6 seconds into this file, the Alien cue begins over the Freud music cue.

Finally, this file contains both music cues with sound and dialogue as it is heard in the final 2-channel Dolby Surround sound mix from the film.  In this audio demo, the scene begins with Dallas saying, “Next deck!” over the image of the melted toe of a space boot and ends when Ripley says, “its stopping!” The sound level in the Alien music cue is lower than the level in the Freud Music cue, so, you would have to listen carefully to the former.  This sound is from Fox Video’s 3-disc 1992 LaserDisc release.

My theory is when the sound mixers where re-doing the reel of this scene they forgot to remove the magnetic stem reels containing the Alien music from the reader. I guess since both pieces of music are modernist, this mistake just went over the director and the other sound mixers that were dubbing the movie.

I’ve studied the sound mix of that scene in the 4.0 surround mix of the film on the 2003 DVD release.  In the front left and right channels, the Alien music cue is greatly minimized because you would have to strain to hear it over the Freud music and the other sound elements.

However, in the rear left and right channels, the Alien music is present, not the Freud music, over the ambient ship rumble sounds.

The actual sound in the rear channels was lower than the front channels so I had to increase the rear channel sound levels drastically for this file to demonstrate.

Perhaps, after all these years, the filmmakers realized that the Alien music cue in that scene remained and they did their best to remove it or, at least, minimize it when preparing for the DVD.  I suppose they could have re-dubbed that scene, making sure not to add the Alien music cue into that scene, but why didn’t they?

I wonder if this leakage of the Alien music in that scene occurred in the rare 70mm, 6-track mix?  It would be interesting if we can find that out, so that we can get some further insight on what procedures went on in preparing the sound mixes for the various versions of the film at the time of its theatrical release.  It would be great if someone who has possession of an audio rip of that 70mm, 6-track LaserDisc version could post an audio of that scene so that we call all check it out.