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Remembering Vangelis – best soundtracks from Blade Runner to Chariots of Fire

Following the sad news of Vangelis’ passing, we take a fond look back at some of his most iconic film scores.

Composer Vangelis Papathanassiou
GEORGES BENDRIHEM / Getty Images
Published: Friday, 20th May 2022 at 1:38 pm
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Vangelis, the Greek composer and musician best known for his electronic theme song for the Oscar-winning Chariots of Fire, has died at the age of 79.

Vangelis – born Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou – was a largely self-taught musician and a member of Greek rock bands The Forminx and Aphrodite’s Child.

After both bands split, Vangelis began focusing on scoring film and TV, and won an Oscar for his 1981 Chariots of Fire soundtrack, which became synonymous with slow-motion sporting montages and the Olympics.

His work on Ridley Scott’s sci-fi cult classic Blade Runner was equally celebrated, landing BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations.

Vangelis went on to bring huge drama to various other film soundtracks later in the decade and in the '90s.

So, in honour of the great composer, RadioTimes.com has compiled a list of some of the best scores from the Academy Award winner.

Vangelis: 5 best movie soundtracks

Showing items 1 to 5 of 5

  • Chariots of Fire

    • Documentary and factual
    • Drama
    • 1981
    • Hugh Hudson
    • 118 mins
    • PG

    Summary:

    Sports drama based on a true story, starring Ben Cross, Ian Charleson and Nigel Havers. Among the British athletes aiming for glory in the 1924 Paris Olympics, two in particular come under the spotlight. Scot Eric Liddell runs for his religion, while Jewish Harold Abrahams races against prejudice. Both men are driven to prove themselves, on and off the track.

    Why is the soundtrack great?:

    It's probably one of the most memorable film soundtracks ever. The opening title sequence, slowly and purposefully building towards its triumphant refrain, has become synonymous with slow-motion sporting montages and the Olympics.

    What's more, it won Vangelis the Academy Award for Best Original Music Score.

    How to watch
  • Blade Runner

    • Drama
    • Sci-fi
    • 1982
    • Ridley Scott
    • 111 mins
    • 15

    Summary:

    Futuristic thriller starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer and Sean Young. Los Angeles in the year 2019: police learn that four lethal androids have escaped from a space colony to find their creator on Earth. Former cop Rick Deckard, an expert in distinguishing humans from "replicants", is assigned to track the androids down.

    Why is the soundtrack great?:

    Vangelis also provided the haunting soundtrack to Ridley Scott’s sci-fi cult classic Blade Runner in 1982.

    The score is celebrated for its evocation of a bleak future version of Los Angeles through the use of an eerie synth-based sound. Much like the film itself, it's been channelled by many later sci-fi blockbusters but it's never been bettered.

    How to watch
  • Bitter Moon

    • Drama
    • Romance
    • 1992
    • Roman Polanski
    • 133 mins
    • 18

    Summary:

    Drama starring Peter Coyote, Emmanuelle Seigner, Hugh Grant and Kristin Scott Thomas. While on board an ocean liner bound for India, British couple Nigel and Fiona encounter the beautiful Mimi and her paralysed husband Oscar. Over the course of the voyage, Oscar tells Nigel the story of his relationship with Mimi - a tale of corrupt passion that threatens to spill over into the life of his listener.

    Why is the soundtrack great?:

    In the '90s, Vangelis also soundtracked Roman Polanski’s Bitter Moon. The soundtrack is excellent, evoking the heavy emotions of the film, and demonstrating that Vangelis could deftly switch between the bombast of 1492: Conquest of Paradise and the cold chills of Blade Runner to something altogether more intimate.

    How to watch
  • 1492: Conquest of Paradise

    • Action
    • Drama
    • 1992
    • Ridley Scott
    • 149 mins
    • 15

    Summary:

    Historical drama starring Gérard Depardieu, Armand Assante and Sigourney Weaver. Explorer Christopher Columbus is convinced that it is possible to sail west from the Canary Islands and reach the riches of the East. He gains the approval of Queen Isabel of Spain (recently victorious against the Moors in Granada) to undertake such an expedition, but comes across lands which he never knew existed.

    Why is the soundtrack great?:

    In the '90s, Vangelis went on to work again with Blade Runner director Ridley Scott on 1992 film 1492: Conquest of Paradise.

    While Scott initially approached Hans Zimmer to compose the film score, he ultimately opted for a reunion with his Blade Runner maestro, Vangelis.

    It's arguably the most epic score the composer ever created and has gone on to be remembered more fondly than the movie itself by many fans.

    How to watch
  • Missing

    • Drama
    • History
    • 1982
    • Costa-Gavras
    • 122 mins
    • 15

    Summary:

    When an idealistic American writer disappears during the Chilean coup d'état in September 1973, his wife and father try to find him.

    Why is the soundtrack great?:

    In between the releases of Chariots of Fire and Blade Runner, Vangelis scored the Palme d’Or-winning Costa-Gavras political drama Missing.

    The score earned him a BAFTA Award for Best Film Music and also bagged the Palme d’Or that year at Cannes.

    A recording was later released featuring Vangelis’ original music with lyrics by Tim Rice sung by Elaine Paige on her 1984 album Cinema.

    How to watch
See more Remembering Vangelis – best soundtracks from Blade Runner to Chariots of Fire
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