Harmony of the Worlds

(Johannes Kepler vs. Superstition)
Cosmos
by Carl Sagan
A Personal Journey
13 episodes
See below for
DVD purchasing options
(Carl Sagan's Cosmos episode no. 3)
  • written by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan & Steven Soter
  • series director & executive producer Adrian Malone
  • Kepler sequence directed by Tom Weidlinger and Geoffrey Haines-Stiles
  • other sequences directed by David Kennard and David F. Oyster

  • Main Title Theme by Vangelis
  • Music by Vangelis, Dmitri Shostakovich, Gustav Holst, J.S. Bach & Isao Tomita,
    Edgar Froese, Wm. Jeffery Boydstun, and others...
  • 1 documentary @ 58 minutes

Data Capsule Review

by Martin Izsak


Without a doubt, this proves to be one of the most definitive episodes of the original Cosmos series. One particular philosophical divide becomes the central theme of the episode, and part-way through this theme is picked up by the central figure of the most memorable and extensive historical re-enactment that the original Cosmos features. Jaromir Hanzlik plays the adult Johannes Kepler with greater emotional depth and a more moving performance than is found in any other re-enactment on Cosmos. After this, the final triumph and tragedy of Kepler is well set to confirm Sagan's ultimate preference on the philosophical question of the episode.


However, the episode is off to a bit of a rough start at first. Even though I don't personally care much for astrology, it still pains me to watch Sagan invent so many daft assumptions about modern astrology and then use those as reasons to dismiss the entire school of thought on the subject. He's a bit too keen to sweep it all away as worthless nonsense, and may indeed alienate many people who follow it who might also have been interested in his astronomical ideas as well.

Participants include:

Dr. Carl Sagan

Astronomer, host, narrator
Jaromir Hanzlik
Actor, Czech Republic, who plays:

Johannes Kepler

The First Astrophysicist,
the last scientific astrologer.
discoverer of the laws of orbital motion

Is astrology really as concerned with pinpoint predictions as he assumes it must be? Are planetary motions really meant to be the cause of everything? (It seems that astronomers keen to blame impacts from comets and other things for every major creation of new life and extinction of old are more prone to this belief than astrologers.) Somehow I don't have any faith that most of the people checking out their horoscopes are subscribing to the beliefs he is dismissing as "astrological".

Any daily horoscope listing would have to be applicable to 1/12 of the population anyway, so you'd have to be pretty daft to expect it to work like a scientific hypothesis. I only expect astrology to possibly have an inkling of what type of challenges may come up for 1/12 of the population. Those individuals who are skilful at handling those challenges may "nip them in the bud" before even noticing any "trouble" in their lives, while those who haven't figured certain skills out yet might be quite stuck and frustrated with these things. Yes, a lot of generic advice comes out of these horoscopes, but then life's solutions are often quite basic, and have been said countless times before. Our media works in part by finding new ways to make the old classic statements feel fresh and current, and if astrological cycles get people interested, it could prove to be a good thing.

Besides it's not as if the chain of cause and effect begins with a person's birth, and then we check to see how Mars and moon and the sun are "affecting" us. It's more like the soul has certain things it wants to work out and be challenged with in a physical life, and it is therefore drawn to be conceived at an appropriate time and place surrounded by appropriate creatures who can play complementary roles in any ensuing drama - and if part of that ideal environment coincides with the position of Mars or the time of year, and whatever known or unknown energies might be peaking or waning at that time, so be it. I agree that the people and possibly the century have larger roles to play than the planets, but I wouldn't dismiss the "lesser" of those influences without knowing more.

On another point, do we really know that "the gods" were based on actual celestial bodies, rather than ancient astronauts mentioning where they came from? Is it perhaps only modern scientists and archaeologists who believe that ancient man couldn't tell the difference? Perhaps it's harder for modern man to tell the difference, if he refuses to believe that either "the gods" or ancient astronauts exist.

All that said, I too would prefer reading a weekly astronomical column. Perhaps the challenge there is that it's less often that something truly fresh and fascinating can come out which also can withstand all the accompanying scientific rigour.


At any rate, Sagan pretty much has to dabble in astrology to tell this story, because it is the ancient astrologers who held all the meticulous observations and data out of which the new science of astronomy could be extruded. In other words, there was a time when no one cared about the difference between the two ideas. What astronomy largely removed was in fact superstition. I think the more we can target superstition, assumption, and jumping to conclusions as the antagonist of this tale, the cleaner we'll be able to tell it and enjoy it.


And though the audio and visuals are still cool during the opening, it isn't until Sagan begins to explore different interpretations of constellations around the campfire that his story actually gets good and enjoyable, and takes off into excellence.

I particularly like the section contrasting the geocentric (Earth-centered) view of the universe championed by Ptolemy with the heliocentric (Sun-centered) view championed by Copernicus, especially when the very nifty mechanical machine prop is used to demonstrate the difference and the various angles of line-of-sight between Earth and Mars. A classic sequence.


But it is indeed a very strong backbone to the episode when the story of the life of Johannes Kepler takes over just before the midpoint. I often wonder exactly what directors Geoffrey Haines-Stiles and Tom Weidlinger had to go on in creating the basic gist of the scenes here, if indeed the mostly voice-over script wasn't written by Ann Druyan and Steven Soter until AFTER the scenes had been shot across Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic. Would our writing team have wanted anything significantly different? Did some sections deserve more focus or less?

At any rate, the end product is a gripping tale of perseverance for meticulous detail and accuracy, and a tale of tragedy, triumph, and revelations both true and false. It is a statement of the struggles of science, and of the Human condition. It paints a fully-rounded dramatic picture. "Harmony of the Worlds" remains one of the signature episodes of the original "Cosmos" series, and a highlight to look forward to as one goes through the show.




The Music - Episode 3 - Harmony of the Worlds

(Anything written in green text represents a name I made up to help keep some music better identified in my own head.)
(Golden yellow backgrounds indicate selections that also appear on Voyager's Golden Record.)
Composer/PerformerTitleNotes
VangelisSymphony to the Powers B, Movement Three
also known as "Theme from Cosmos"
Title Music
Wm. Jeffery BoydstunBefore Science, Cue 1 What's this? Let's listen...
Galt MacDermotAquarius(1976 "Hair" film soundtrack version)
?? unknown??? "mystery 139"
Brian EnoM386from the album "Music for Films"
?? unknown??? unknown(quiet orchestral suspense)
Wm. Jeffery BoydstunNufari What's this? Let's listen...
Gustav HolstNeptune
Gustav HolstSaturn
J.S. Bach / Isao TomitaThe Sea Named "Solaris"
Trad. NavajoNight Chantfrom Voyager's Golden Record
?? unknownmore unknown native American music
J.S. Bach / Isao TomitaThe Sea Named "Solaris"
Larry Fast / SynergyParadox (Part B: Icarus)
(contains "Icarus" composed by Ralph Towner
with "Largo: New World Symphony"
composed by Antonin Dvorak,
in a merged arrangement by Larry Fast)
This track is also known simply as "Icarus"
Gustav HolstNeptune
Dmitri ShostakovichSymph. 11 Mvmt. 1 - "The Palace Square",
part B - Kepler's Theme What's this?
as Kepler is introduced
Dmitri ShostakovichSymph. 11 Mvmt. 1 - "The Palace Square",
part A
George CrumbBlack Angels, Movement 3 - Return
Dmitri ShostakovichSymph. 5 Mvmt. 3, "Holy Geometry" excerpt
Wm. Jeffery BoydstunBefore Science, Cue 2
?? unknown?? unknown(replacement for Croft's Trumpet Tune?)
George CrumbBlack Angels, Movement 3 - Return
Dmitri ShostakovichSymph. 5 Mvmt. 3, "Lost Cause" excerpt
Dmitri ShostakovichSymph. 11 Mvmt. 1 - "The Palace Square", part A
Dmitri ShostakovichSymph. 11 Mvmt. 2 - "The 9th of January", part A
Dmitri ShostakovichSymph. 11 Mvmt. 2 - "The 9th of January",
part E - "Action" What's this?
overlaid on top of previous excerpt
Dmitri ShostakovichSymph. 11 Mvmt. 1 - "The Palace Square", part A
?? unknown"Tycho's court" source music
Richard WagnerLohengrin - Prelude to Act 1
Larry Fast / SynergyIcarus
?? unknown?? unknown(replacement for Lully's March of the Musketeers?)
Vangelis
A Way What's This?
(from Heaven and Hell, Side B)
?? unknown?? unknown(replacement for Riley's Dervishes?)
Edgar FroeseDrunken Mozart in the Desert"Solar Clockwork"
Kepler learns to calculate a true orbit
?? unknown?? unknown(replacement for Purcell's Funeral Music for Queen Mary?)
(and an improvement as well)
VangelisTheme from Cosmos
Dmitri ShostakovichSymph. 11 Mvmt. 1 - "The Palace Square",
part B - Kepler's Theme
VangelisTheme from CosmosClosing Theme, End Credits
VangelisComet 16Collector's Edition 2000 Credits



Isao Tomita
Kosmos

Pioneering electronic renditions
of various classical compositions

Audio CD

Tomita - Kosmos

U.S.

Canada

U.K.

Links also lead to mp3 version...

Tomita - Kosmos:

All Tracks performed by Isao Tomita
This album available on CD or MP3 download.

Track Listing:

1. Star Wars: Main Title (John Williams, 3:05)
2. Space Fantasy (Tomita, 9:17) containing:

  • Also Sprach Zarathustra (Richard Strauss)
  • Ride of the Valkyries (Richard Wagner)

3. Pacific 231 (Honegger, 6:48)
4. The Unanswered Question (Charles Ives, 6:22)
5. Aranjuez (Rodrigo-Tomita, 6:23)
6. Peer Gynt, Suite No. 2: Solveig's Song (Edvard Grieg, 4:49)
7. Hora Staccato (Dinicu-Heifetz, 3:29)
8. The Sea Named Solaris (J.S. Bach - Tomita, 12:35)


Gustav Holst
The Planets
(bundled with Enigma variations)

Original music
composed by Gustav Holst
performed by
Boston Symphony Orchestra
William Steinberg conducting.

Audio CD

Holst - The Planets / Elgar - Enigma:

U.S.


Canada

U.K.


This is the very CD by which I fell in love with Holst's magnificent "Planets" suite, long, long before I ever saw "Cosmos". In fact, I still have a bit of a hard time associating it with "Cosmos". Ever since I used it to flesh out a recreation of "The Dalek Masterplan", it has been inextricably fused to that classic old Doctor Who story in my head instead - with Mars representing the Masterplan alliance, Uranus the Meddling Monk, Jupiter's main verses the SSS forces and Solar System society, and Jupiter's interlude the noble resolve of the Vyon siblings.

Incidentally, this is the very version of Jupiter also used by the Canadian Space channel for their "Space News" intro and identification logo.

Though it's not the very same version used in Cosmos, it is widely regarded as one of the best recordings out there, and certainly an excellent one to have.

This album available on CD only.

Track Listing:

"Enigma": Variations on an Original Theme (Edward Elgar)
1. Enigma: Andante
2. (C.A.E.): L'istesso tempo
3. (H.D.S.-P.): Allegro
4. (R.B.T.): Allegretto
5. (W.M.B.): Allegro di molto
6. (R.P.A.): Moderato
7. (Ysobel): Andantino
8. (Troyte): Presto
9. (W.N.): Allegretto
10. (Nimrod): Adagio
11. Intermezzo (Dorabella): allegretto
12. (G.R.S.): Allegro di molto
13. (B.G.N.): Andante
14. Romanza (***): Moderato
15. Finale (E.D.U.): Allegro - Presto (5:17)

The Planets (Gustav Holst):
16. Mars, the Bringer of War (6:37)
17. Venus, the Bringer of Peace (7:28)
18. Mercury, the Winged Messenger (4:00)
19. Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity (8:03)
20. Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age (7:49)
21. Uranus, the Magician (5:28)
22. Neptune, the Mystic (6:46)


Gustav Holst
The Planets
(bundled w. Ligeti's Lux aeterna)

Original music
composed by Gustav Holst
performed by
Boston Symphony Orchestra
William Steinberg conducting.

Audio CD and mp3 album

This is the same recording of "The Planets" as above, but in a different album bundle. Those looking to download recordings in mp3 form will have better luck with this version.

Holst's Planets - Physical Audio CD:

U.S.

Canada

U.K.

Holst's Planets

Track Listing:

The Planets (Gustav Holst):
1. Mars (6:34)
2. Venus (7:23)
3. Mercury (3:56)
4. Jupiter (7:59)
5. Saturn (7:42)
6. Uranus (5:22)
7. Neptune (6:45)

Lux Aeterna (Gyorgi Ligeti):
8. Modern Chorusmusic - Lux Aeterna (7:57)

Holst's Planets - Mp3 Album:

U.S.

U.K.

Holst's Planets

Track Listing:

The Planets (Gustav Holst):
1. Mars (6:34)
2. Venus (7:23)
3. Mercury (3:56)
4. Jupiter (7:59)
5. Saturn (7:42)
6. Uranus (5:22)
7. Neptune (6:45)

Lux Aeterna (Gyorgi Ligeti):
8. Modern Chorusmusic - Lux Aeterna (7:57)


Synergy
Sequencer

Original music
performed by
Larry Fast as Synergy

Audio CD

U.S.
CD
Canada

U.K.
CD
Sequencer 1976

All Tracks performed by Larry Fast recording as Synergy

Track Listing according to amazon's mp3 version:

1. S-Scape (5:46)
2. Chateau (4:17)
3. Cybersports (4:39)
4. Classical Gas (3:02)
5. Largo, New World Symphony (3:48)
6. Icarus (3:14)
7. Sequence 14 (11:20)

U.S.
mp3
U.K.
mp3
Sequencer 1976

All Tracks performed by Larry Fast recording as Synergy

Track Listing according to discogs.com:

1. S-Scape (5:50)
2. Chateau (4:16)
3. Cybersports (4:39)
4. Classical Gas (3:00)
5. Paradox (Part A: Largo, New World Symphony) (3:40)
6. Paradox (Part B: Icarus) (3:20)
7. (Sequence) 14 (11:14)


Edgar Froese
Stuntman

Original music
composed by
Edgar Froese

Audio CD

Froese: Stuntman - Physical Audio CD:

U.S.


Canada

U.K.

Edgar Froese - Stuntman

This album available on CD or MP3 download.

Track Listing:

1. Stuntman (4:18)
2. It Would Be Like Samoa (10:46)
3. Detroit Snackbar Dreamer (6:33)
4. Drunken Mozart in the Desert (10:00)
5. A Dali-esque Sleep Fuse (8:33)
6. Scarlet Score For Mascalero (4:20)

Froese: Stuntman - Mp3 Album:

U.S.


U.K.

Edgar Froese - Stuntman

This album available on CD or MP3 download.

Track Listing:

1. Stuntman (4:18)
2. It Would Be Like Samoa (10:46)
3. Detroit Snackbar Dreamer (6:33)
4. Drunken Mozart in the Desert (10:00)
5. A Dali-esque Sleep Fuse (8:33)
6. Scarlet Score For Mascalero (4:20)



This documentary has become available on DVD.
Cosmos - by Carl Sagan: A Personal Journey


13 hour-long episodes, 1980
U.S.


Canada

U.K.


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Read the data capsule review for another episode: "Traveller's Tales"



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