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Section Header
Cleopatra
(1999)
Composed, Performed, and Co-Produced by:
Trevor Jones

Performed by:
The London Symphony Orchestra

Conducted by:
Geoffrey Alexander

Orchestrated by:
Trevor Jones
Geoffery Alexander
Julian Kershaw
Simon Chamberlain


Co-Produced by:
Simon Rhodes

Vocals and Shawm Performed by:
Belinda Sykes

Label:
Contemporary Media Recordings (Promo)

Release Date:
June 1st, 1999

Also See:
Merlin
Dinotopia
Cliffhanger
Last of the Mohicans

Audio Clips:
1. Cleopatra (0:33):
WMA (215K)  MP3 (268K)
Real Audio (174K)

2. Egypt is Yours for Only One Day (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

9. To Speed You on Your Way (0:32):
WMA (204K)  MP3 (251K)
Real Audio (156K)

10. In the Eyes of the Gods We Are One (0:34):
WMA (220K)  MP3 (274K)
Real Audio (171K)

Availability:
Difficult to find. The label is associated with Trevor Jones himself and the semi-promotional release didn't receive regular distribution. Specialty outlets will carry it, but the CD disappeared from most stores quickly.

Awards:
  None.









Cleopatra

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Buy it... if you seek perhaps the best and boldest theme of Trevor Jones' career, along with remarkably erotic vocals over a powerful orchestral score.

Avoid it... if an infusion of exotic new age style into that massive orchestral construct is too disparate for you to accept in a Roman and Egyptian setting.



Jones
Cleopatra: (Trevor Jones) The original 1963 film version of Cleopatra cost 20th Century Fox a staggering $37 million, nearly sinking the studio into bankruptcy. The 1999 production by Hallmark Entertainment cost $30 million, a relative bargain, and failed badly in its television debut. Running a full three hours, the series would adapt the famed Egyptian character from 40 years of research contained in Margaret George's book "The Memoirs of Cleopatra." It would mostly deal with Cleopatra's impact on Rome, and Julius Caesar and Marc Antony in particular. Featuring Timothy Dalton and Billy Zane in those roles, the French/Chilean actress Leonor Varela was badly outclassed in talent, with her wooden performance causing many of the complaints regarding the film. Like most of the Hallmark films produced for cable or network television, there were no corners cut when it came to the score, which was, compared to most of the other production values of the film, praised uniformly by critics at the time. Director Franc Roddam, responsible for Hallmark's Moby Dick, turned to veteran blockbuster composer Trevor Jones for the task of writing an absolutely massive score for the remake of Cleopatra. Along with Jones comes, of course, the London Symphony Orchestra, and Jones delivered a phenomenal recording for a film that went through a rather hasty production process. Jones is well know for his epic themes, and that talent would be put to the true test here, but what's even more intriguing are two essential choices that Jones developed in his music for the project. First, he would use the orchestral ensemble to represent the power of Rome while relying on specialty instruments, a solo voice, and synthesizers for Egypt, placing the two elements at battle with one another in the final score mix. Secondly, he would throw aside the Alex North notion of straight forward Western romance writing of the Golden Age of film scores and instead give the teenage temptress a truly erotic musical representation. To that end, the score would have a distinctly lurid new age side to it.

If you've previously been impressed by Jones' well known epic themes for Last of the Mohicans, Cliffhanger, and others, then you will not be disappointed by Cleopatra's primary theme. In fact, the very similarly styled progressions of the theme for this film, while bordering on self-plagiarism in some regards, are better orchestrated and performed in Cleopatra than in any of Jones' other major scores. That includes Merlin, a previous entry in the Hallmark series for which Jones' score is highly regarded by all. Simply put, Cleopatra is better. A resounding bass, wild percussion section with a bed of varied drums, and bold solo female voice get in on the string-over-brass-counterpoint standard for Jones' masculine themes. That theme is given a more varied treatment in Cleopatra than the rather static one for Merlin, which repeated only in nearly identical form. In Cleopatra, a variety of much stronger secondary themes grace the score, including a sultry love theme for the primary lovers and a forceful march for Rome and its senate. The title theme is presented in full ensemble ruckus at the opening and closing of the album, along with some satisfying variants in between, including a heartbreaking string rendition in "To Speed You on Your Way." The love theme would be at home in any late 90's new age album, performed with much allure by the solo voice of Belinda Sykes. She also performs the shawm, which is the primary specialty instrument in the score. Essentially a descendent of a traditional Egyptian oboe, the shawm has a distinctly foreign and slightly electric, but extremely smooth sound. Its solo performance at the outset of "The Eye of Horus" is powerful in its resolve, and a true joy when merged with the equally forceful solo voice. The major performance of the love theme exists in "Egypt is Yours for Only One Day," a simply gorgeous new age track that introduces the delicately balanced role of the keyboarded electronics. Jones has a clever way of incorporating the electronics (along with a very wet mix of the vocals) in such a way that the synthetic side of the music doesn't interfere with the authenticity of the era. The orchestra would combine with these elements for a reprise of the love theme in "Temple of the Sun."

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Another subtheme introduced in "The Tomb of Kings" is a distant cousin of the title theme and it brackets an eerie synthetically-aided performance of that title theme, rolling with humble percussion to an eloquent conclusion. The Roman music is a bit predictable, beginning with noble trumpet fanfares and often extending over a martial rhythm led by snare, timpani, and chopping bass strings. Parts of "Rome Decrees" and "The Roman Forum" stir up the same wild, noisy brass action that woke up neighbors in Dark City. Some of the most interesting parts of Cleopatra are those that alternate between the elements of the orchestra and the specialty instruments for Egypt. Jones accomplishes this balance intelligently as the two cultures and their rulers work their irregular diplomacy. Also working in his favor is his ability to adapt fragments of his themes seemingly effortlessly into any part of the score, sometimes masked as counterpoint. The fluttering nature of the shawm and vocals offers an almost creepy and mysterious Arabic feel to the sharp London players. Despite featuring ten or so minutes of simmering, slightly erotic underscore in its latter half, the album is a remarkably engaging listening experience. The performances of the title theme could use some additional reverb, especially with the force of the percussion in the forefront, and you'll be rewarded by playing with their mix yourself on a PC. The album was a pseudo promo released through Jones' own label (in similar fashion to his Dinotopia score), and was available for a short while at online retailers. It has since disappeared from the market, but you'd be well served by a copy even at a higher price. With such a fascinating and enjoyable run of 55 minutes on that album, with all of the cues of substantial length and substance, the score begs for a full release. Cleopatra is Jones' consistent creativity and intelligence on display at every moment. Avid fans of the composer need to research this score without fail; it would be among the top five of 1999 if composed for a widely released theatrical film. *****   Amazon.com Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For Trevor Jones reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.78 (in 18 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.42 (in 24,460 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.





 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  


Regular Average: 4.14 Stars
Smart Average: 3.91 Stars*
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   Filmtracks Sponsored Donated Review
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 Track Listings: Total Time: 55:03


• 1. Cleopatra (3:19)
• 2. Egypt is Yours for Only One Day (6:07)
• 3. The Tomb of Kings (6:55)
• 4. Rome Decress (8:27)
• 5. The Roman Forum (6:47)
• 6. The Eye of Horus (5:07)
• 7. Temple of the Sun (4:44)
• 8. Prayer to Isis (4:01)
• 9. To Speed You on Your Way (2:32)
• 10. In the Eyes of the Gods We Are One (6:55)




 Notes and Quotes:  


The colorful insert contains a short note about Jones' career. Track names can only be found in the center of the insert, and no track times are provided.





   
  All artwork and sound clips from Cleopatra are Copyright © 1999, Contemporary Media Recordings (Promo). The reviews and other textual content contained on the filmtracks.com site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 7/16/99 and last updated 4/15/07. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 1999-2013, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.