Quite literally, in many ways.
The piano thumps back in, and what we have here is essentially an effects laden version of Flash’s Theme. No lyrics (except an occasional ‘Flash, ah-ah’), just lots and lots of vocal samples, ominous synths, laser beams and atmosphere.
It includes some of those samples from the single version that we all know quite well.
It’s weird the impact that song’s success has on the film. Certain moments and phrases are suddenly given so much weight by their familiarity. It feels like an early variant of the snipping impact of macro/gif culture, just on a more top down scale. Certain words in the film just make your spine tingle, which is an odd effect in something so ropily put together in many ways. They feel like cultural events, punching above their weight through a weird avenue of fame.
Dispatch War Rocket Ajax, to bring back their bodies.
I’ve spent my entire life thinking that was ‘Warhawk and Ajax’, and being confused as to why their wasn’t two spaceships.
Anyway. The drama of this moment in the film is amped up so much by the reappearance of Flash’s theme, and the drama that entails. It’s very smart soundtracking. On a narrative level, we get to see Flash resurrected again, musically, at the same point that General Kala does.
What do you mean, Flash Gordon approaching?
The piano pulses underneath a heroic rescue trick, in a way that brings alive an emotional moment. It’s exactly what soundtracking is for. It doubles down at this point, retrospectively and nostalgically, because of the hugeness and recognisability of that particular motif.
What we’re left with on the record is this skeletal version of this narrative, presented as a constant march.
It’s got these awful horn stabs in them, but you forgive it because it’s selling the scene, and the scene is selling the music, justifying it.
The fact that actually the scene is just the appearance and running away of Flash, and the setting of bait for the trap. The whole piece ends up being an introductory section for the ambushing hawkmen, shown in the next track.
The middle act of the film is almost entirely devoid of Queen soundtrack, so this energetic reappearance, and the way it pulls the story towards its climax is massive. From here on in, as in the first act, the record retells the story in full. We languished in Howard Blake’s score on most of Arboria and the palace of the Hawkmen (which was perfect for the general action presented, but offers a very different tone to Queen’s work). Now we’re back on board, and it’s not going to stop until you’re ready to go home.
Because this is the point when Flash is doing his job. Uniting the kingdoms under the banner of a lightning bolt, and overthrowing the oppressive regime.
So yeah, Queen are back, and they’re going to be yelling about it until the end.
It’s the right use of their time.
Queen to the rescue.
As always, it’s all about coming together.
Queen: An Exploded Diagram is me having big and little thoughts about every Queen song in chronological order. If you want to support me, making it more financially viable and easier to explain to people at parties, please back my patreon.
Illustration by Emma.