Mike Oldfield: The Space Movie

Where orchestral Bells and Ridges collide.

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Could there be anything more 70s than a film by rock doc genius Tony Palmer about the space race, with a soundtrack by Mike Oldfield? Yes, obviously. But this is pretty high up there.

As Palmer tells it, Oldfield was commissioned to come up with a soundtrack but, preoccupied with his next album, Incantations, had recorded only six minutes of new music. Fortunately Oldfield’s label boss Richard Branson then revealed to Palmer the existence of orchestral versions of Tubular Bells and Hergest Ridge.

Palmer’s magnificent rescue job mashes up both soundtracks with new music and with chunks of voice-over from Werner von Braun, John F Kennedy and the Apollo astronauts to create a soundtrack that is at time both epic and moving. Naturally it works best in the context of its host film, but it’s a strange delight on its own as well.

David Quantick

David Quantick is an English novelist, comedy writer and critic, who has worked as a journalist and screenwriter. A former staff writer for the music magazine NME, his writing credits have included On the HourBlue JamTV Burp and Veep; for the latter of these he won an Emmy in 2015.