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Released by Special Arrangement with Turner Classic Movies Music
Born Free (1966) was a hugely successful wildlife film about Elsa, an orphaned lion cub in Africa who is nursed to adulthood by a husband-and-wife team of nature enthusiasts (Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers). Based on the true-life account by Joy Adamson (whose husband George was a game warden), the film was the rare family adventure that was adored by audiences and critics alike, and has maintained a sterling reputation over the years.
Key to the film's success is its famous score by John Barry. Barry was red-hot from his work on James Bond films and Zulu (1964), and Born Free would cement his reputation as one of the most vibrant composers of the 1960s—if not of all time. Barry's main theme—given lyrics by Don Black and sung by Matt Munro—became a pop sensation and one of the world's most recognizable movie songs, a veritable cultural landmark.
The song "Born Free" has been so successful that it has overshadowed the rest of the score, which is a thoroughly satisfying, romantic and dramatic work. Barry maintains the predominant tone of Disneyesque charm but ranges from dark, suspenseful passages (for the hunting of a man-eating lion) to buoyant setpieces for Elsa's development, and a heartbreaking finale as Elsa is returned to the wild. The sound is symphonic, but with ethnic African touches (in Barry's inimitable style); the score is a far more serious and diverse work than most people realize.
Barry was rushed in his film recording of Born Free and at his insistence performed it again for album release (on MGM Records). This premiere CD release presents the 39:55 LP program, remastered from 1/4" stereo tapes. New, authoritative liner notes by Jon Burlingame tell the heretofore unknown story of the film's development and production, and feature new interview material with Barry and Black.