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Section Header
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
(2007)
2007 Regular

2007 Set

Composed and Co-Produced by:
Hans Zimmer

Conducted by:
Blake Neely
Nick Glennie-Smith

Vocal Solos by:
Dolores Clay
Hila Plitmann
Brendyn Bell

Co-Produced by:
Bob Bodami
Melissa Muik

Additional Music by:
Lorne Balfe
Tom Gire
Nick Glennie-Smith
Henry Jackman
Atli Orvarsson
John Sponsler
Geoff Zanelli

Orchestrated by:
Walt Fowler
Elizabeth Finch
Ken Kugler
Suzette Moriarty
Steve Bartek

Label:
Walt Disney Records

Release Date:
May 22nd, 2007

Also See:
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Muppet Treasure Island
The Rock
The Peacemaker
Crimson Tide
Cutthroat Island

Audio Clips:
Regular Album:

3. At Wit's End (0:30):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

8. Parlay (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

11. I Don't Think Now Is the Best Time (0:30):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

12. One Day (0:32):
WMA (213K)  MP3 (269K)
Real Audio (189K)

Availability:
Both 2007 albums are regular U.S. releases. The 2007 "Soundtrack Treasures Collection" initially retailed for $60 or more.

Awards:
  None.









Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
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Buy it... if, once again, you have accepted Hans Zimmer's modern, trademark action style as viable for the swashbuckling genre and want to hear an intelligent merging of thematic ideas from all of the first three films in this franchise.

Avoid it... if you're simply tired of predictable, simplistic bombast with a synthetically enhanced bass in a genre it never matched in the first place.



Zimmer
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End: (Hans Zimmer/Various) Sailing to the highest profits of any film in 2006 was Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, the Jerry Bruckheimer camp's much anticipated sequel to the wildly popular 2003 adaptation of the famed Disneyland ride to the big screen. The filming of the third film in the franchise, At World's End, was completed in snapshot succession with the second entry, producing a heightened state of mania over the concept that the sequels for The Matrix once tried to capture as well. While during production there was no indication that a fourth film was in the works, hints of a continuation from Disney were almost immediate, and with profit potential that was too grand to ignore, it became inevitable that at least some of the same gang of lovable rogues would be traveling the globe once again in future adventures. The plot of the third film brings together elements spanning the previous two, compiling a host of conflicted characters for an epic journey to the ends of the earth. The number of characters and corresponding thematic fragments representing them were so plentiful in the franchise by this point that lead composer Hans Zimmer could just as well assign a character theme to each of his seven ghostwriters and have some concepts left over for his own ideas. That's the cynical approach to these Pirates of the Caribbean scores, of course, and despite those criticisms, credit has to be given to Zimmer for at least making a valiant attempt to take the franchise's music in the right direction with each entry. The score for The Curse of the Black Pearl was an understandable nightmare, a five-week replacement effort of synthetic nonsense and contractual problems that didn't even allow the composer to be credited with the mess. Meanwhile, Alan Silvestri, whose score for the film was rejected, was likely in a bar somewhere ordering a double shot of a potent beverage. For Dead Man's Chest, Zimmer had the time and resources to correct the ills of the first score, and while he attempted to broaden the stylistic horizons of the musical identity for the concept, the score ultimately suffered from the same lack of style and tact. In short, the sequel was a bastardized adaptation of ideas from The Peacemaker and The Rock into an inapplicable setting.

For Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Zimmer would try to make significant corrections to the constructs of his ideas for the franchise, expanding the scope of the music to include a far wider orchestral and choral palette. The ensemble performances and the final mix in the soundscape lean more on orchestra's role over the synthesizers', also utilizing a chorus and individual solo elements with a much-enhanced sense of worldly spirit. Unlike Dead Man's Chest, which relied on the "guilty pleasure" sensibilities of its veteran film music listeners to be satisfactory in parts, At World's End offers several cues of more intelligent ideas that may maintain the interest of listeners who consider themselves outside of the comfort zone of Zimmer's ardent fanbase. The orchestral instrumentation has been expanded to include, most surprisingly, a handful of woodwinds. Bruckheimer had personally refused to allow such "girly-men" instruments to be heard in his films to this point, but Zimmer apparently transcended that closed-mindedness and incorporates solos for oboe and flute, as well as roles for piccolo and bassoon. For the jaunty, playful portions of the score, Zimmer employs an accordion, mandolin, and dulcimer for additional color, and the use of both the harpsichord and erhu allows for a more rounded, cultured sound. A better emphasis on live percussion (as opposed to drum pads and synthetic sampling) is commendable, with good reverb in its mix. The use of voices is also particularly creative in At World's End, with the film opening to a source song that serves as the anthem for all pirates and one of the score's two major new themes. Solo female voices, occasionally operatic in their soprano tones, perform ghostly subthemes throughout the score, sometimes layered in ways that foreshadow On Stranger Tides. Zimmer's normal role for deep male chorus continues to be prevalent in At World's End, but he expands it to a fuller adult choral sound for an effect similar to The Da Vinci Code at times. The recording and mix of the music more often avoids the bass-heavy headaches of the previous two scores, with a cue like "Singapore" instead providing a far more dynamic range of mixed elements. Even a playful tribute to Ennio Morricone (a Zimmer favorite) is blatantly conveyed by guitar in "Parlay."

The number of themes that exists in the Pirates of the Caribbean series is so plentiful that jokes about ghostwriters are inevitable. But one aspect of At World's End that Zimmer has handled quite well is the integration of thematic ideas from the previous two scores with the new ideas in this one. As mentioned before, the "Hoist the Colours" source song that opens the film and album is expanded to full, easily digestible ensemble statements throughout the score. More likely the central identity of At World's End, however, is the love theme for the Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann characters. The interesting thing about this theme is that it seems that Zimmer and his associates at Remote Control couldn't decide on which of three ideas to make the primary one for the theme, leaving the score with three fragments of love-theme identity that are often stated separately and only a couple of times performed satisfactorily in succession. An "Edge of the World" subtheme is offered during the height of associated action cues, heard briefly but gloriously at the conclusions of "At Wit's End" and "Up is Down." The themes for Sao Feng and the East India Trading Company are both performed in full in "Singapore." The two Jack Sparrow themes from the previous films follow in succession in the same cue, making it a decent suite of sorts; his theme from the second film ultimately receives more air time on the album for At World's End. The Davy Jones theme is presented on music box in "At Wit's End" and by the full group in "I Don't Think Now is the Best Time." Some of Tia Dalma's identity carries over into the vocals of "Calypso," and Lord Beckett's material is reprised as well. Finally, no Pirates of the Caribbean score would be complete without the primary "He's a Pirate" theme from the first film, despite its catchy and arguably obnoxious and inappropriate tone for the genre. Its major appearances in At World's End are provided in "I Don't Think Now is the Best Time" and the shamelessly victorious "Drink Up Me Hearties." It's instantly recognizable, of course, because it seems that nearly every jazz and school band has attempted to perform it over the past three years. Being as over-exposed as it is, and given its nature to irritate with its alternating static and choppy staccato movements, the theme could be more of a detriment to the sequels than otherwise.

While Zimmer's music for At World's End reaches into a far more dynamic range of instrumentation and holds the power of the underlying synthetics to a slightly less distractingly problematic level of bombast, there still exist the challenges inherent with his basic approach to the genre. Zimmer is to the blockbuster films of the 2000's what the power ballad was to 1980's rock. His music is a distinct sub-genre within the world of film music, and his tendency to write overbearingly powerful and simplistic anthems for nearly anything remotely connected to the concepts of action and drama begs for criticism and skepticism when it's applied in unconventional ways. These new themes for At World's End are extremely predictable given Zimmer's past production, and their overly simple neo-classical chord progressions, squeezing every last drop of melodrama out of their super-harmonic movements, lack taste, style, and subtlety. Zimmer proved that these appeals to primordial aural pleasures can make for enjoyable listening experiences in an effort like King Arthur, though in the world of Pirates of the Caribbean, the same formula has never been able to convince many ardent and knowledgeable film score enthusiasts. The bass region continues to be abused, and although there isn't any noticeable distortion caused by this technique here, it's still a defining characteristic. The love theme's three ideas, additionally, are packaged into two powerful statements of anthem-like proportion at the ends of "One Day" and "Drink Up Me Hearties," taking the relatively delicate idea of a romance between two people and elevating its importance to the level of interstellar war. It makes for great listening on album, as it often has in its previous variants throughout Zimmer's career, but there is no style to that music. Only power. And there's only so much brute force that a score can pound you over the head with before you lose faith in its intelligence. The first two scores left you completely beaten by their in-your-face tactics, and At World's End suffers from that attitude in about half of its cues. Maybe Zimmer will never shake his habit of playing the role of Thor, God of Thunder whenever he tackles another action score, wielding that giant musical hammer on his listeners (and maybe wearing a helmet with horns... who knows?). His ghostwriters are Remote Control certainly do enough of that for him in any regard.

The lack of subtly or tact in the action and drama portions of At World's End once again raises the same issues about whether this style of music fits the traditional definition of "swashbuckling" or is trying to redefine it. Some have claimed that this third entry satisfies critics by simply toning back the synths and expanding upon the authentic instrumental ensemble. Others point to the jaunty comedy cues as evidence of swashbuckling style. But that's a stretch at best. There was lengthy discussion about this controversy in the Filmtracks review for Dead Man's Chest, and most of the points made and questions posed there are still valid in the context of this newest score's review. The most relevant part of that discussion is restated for the remainder of this paragraph: "There are intangibles about the soaring effect of orchestral sailing music that stir the imagination like none other. If you look at the definition of something swashbuckling, it's 'flamboyantly adventurous.' In a masculine sense, Hans Zimmer's current electronically-aided blockbuster style could be called adventurous. If you're in a technological setting, it matches the adventure well, and in his developing theme for Jack Sparrow in Dead Man's Chest, he tried to capture the flamboyant side of the character's wit. To be flamboyant, though, you have to be elaborate, ornate, and resplendent. Its own definition includes 'richly colored,' a phrase that dooms Zimmer's score because of the music's inability to resonate with the brilliant beauty and splendor necessary for the high seas (because, of course, the brute masculinity prevents it). If Zimmer wishes to persist with his deep bass droning and limited instrumentation, then a flamboyant presence is simply not possible. Instead of flamboyance, the best he can accomplish is a pounded, melodramatic sense of adventure, which is why you hear a cue at the end of Dead Man's Chest that sounds as though someone's just disarmed a huge bomb, saved the world, or discovered the Holy Grail. Especially for those of us who have heard Zimmer from the start, how can we blindly accept this music for a historical Caribbean pirate genre when it's already seen its glory days in scenes where fighter planes are bombing Alcatraz Island and George Clooney is chasing nukes from a helicopter? Do people really wonder why the score nearly ruins the film for others?"

Also discussed in the Dead Man's Chest review is the frustrating history of the Pirates of the Caribbean scores on album. At odds with the desire of fans to hear all the material from the films on album is Zimmer's tendency to prefer his music rearranged into suites for presentations apart from context. Also problematic is the fact that the music that you hear in the film often contains a different mix of orchestra, synthesizers, and other elements from what is chosen for the albums. Finally, you sometimes hear passages in this franchise of movies in which music from someplace else in the same score (or from one of those that preceded it) is tracked in to a circumstance that is sometimes unrelated to Zimmer's original intent for that music (On Stranger Tides was a disaster in these regards). After the original trilogy of Pirates of the Caribbean films debuted, fans requested expanded versions of the soundtracks on album, preferably in the luxurious, complete format established by the comprehensive sets representing Howard Shore's The Lord of the Rings trilogy. In 2007, Disney released what may had hoped would be such treatment of those original Pirates of the Caribbean scores. The "Soundtrack Treasures Collection" of four CDs and a DVD was an immense disappointment, however, providing very few tracks of additional material that hadn't in some form been previously released. The CD dedicated to At World's End (#3) is identical to the commercial product, and the remixes on the fourth CD are simply shorter versions of those already heard before (though who actually wants to hear that trash remains a question). The supposedly new score tracks on that fourth CD are mostly rearrangements of themes already released, some of them simply elongated or merged into more palatable tracks. From At World's End, you hear a very long extension of the three facets of the love theme in "Marry Me," equal treatment of Beckett's theme in "Lord Cutler Beckett," a different mix of the end credits music in "Hoist the Colours Suite," an elongated version of "Singapore" (including some unused music) in "The Pirate Lord of Singapore," and a rejected cue featuring Beckett's theme for the outset of the final battle, "Just Good Business." This collection of "new" music does not merit the high cost of the entire product, though, and the "Soundtrack Treasures Collection" is a slap in the face by Disney to all of the film music collectors and concept enthusiasts who deserve, despite the arguably poor quality of these scores, a decent presentation of this famous music.

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Finally, an issue that won't be addressed in this commentary to the extent that it was discussed in the Dead Man's Chest review is the role of the ghostwriters in the creative process. Six of the seven ghostwriters from the second score returned for At World's End, along with most of the production crew. If you disagree with the label of "ghostwriter" being applied to them, then seek the Dead Man's Chest review once again for the reasons why they indeed are ghostwriters. One of the overarching problems with the score for At World's End, despite its more numerous strengths in individual moments, is that it seems badly fragmented, the tell-tale sign of a composition with more than half a dozen contributors pushing their own ideas at it. As such, At World's End is a score that doesn't transcend to become more than the sum of its parts, and this issue would become even more crippling in On Stranger Tides. Zimmer never allows each theme to be mutated into truly intelligent deviations, only occasionally employing competent use of counterpoint to integrate two themes over each other. The two or three new themes are too weak in rhythmic and progressive construction to survive outside the warm nest of Zimmer's usual rendering of those ideas. It serves as testimony to the argument that any theme, even one banged out by a 10-year-old on the piano, can be made deliciously heroic if given the robust treatment that Zimmer applies like a blanket to seemingly every idea that he and his assistants conjure for this franchise. For listeners seeking relief from the massively realized, forceful crescendos of thematic glory, the comedy cues like "Multiple Jacks" and "The Brethren Court" will be enticing not because of their own merits, but simply because they're different. That said, the enthusiast of the franchise will indeed enjoy the ultra-masculine instrumentation and the identification of all the themes and motifs that whip through the score on a constant and often engaging basis. Zimmer fans will delight in the extended use of the churning string lines that place this score in the mid-2000's era of Zimmer's career (along with The Da Vinci Code and Batman Begins). The old-school Zimmer action fans will hear plenty of The Peacemaker in "I Don't Think Now is the Best Time," a cue that rips through the room with enough steroid-induced pomp and muscularity to make even Barry Bonds' suppliers jealous. Overall, the course is steady in this franchise, and the wake tells you everything you need to know. Oh finesse, prudence, subtly, elegance, and savoir-faire, where art thou? **   Amazon.com Price Hunt: CD or Download

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 Track Listings (2007 Regular Album): Total Time: 55:45


• 1. Hoist the Colours (1:31)
• 2. Singapore (3:40)
• 3. At Wit's End (8:05)
• 4. Multiple Jacks (3:51)
• 5. Up is Down (2:42)
• 6. I See Dead People in Boats (7:09)
• 7. The Brethren Court (2:21)
• 8. Parlay (2:10)
• 9. Calypso (3:02)
• 10. What Shall We Die For (2:02)
• 11. I Don't Think Now is the Best Time (10:45)
• 12. One Day (4:01)
• 13. Drink Up Me Hearties (4:31)




 Track Listings (2007 Treasures Set): Total Time: 47:22


CD 3: (55:45)
• 1. Hoist the Colours (1:31)
• 2. Singapore (3:40)
• 3. At Wit's End (8:05)
• 4. Multiple Jacks (3:51)
• 5. Up is Down (2:42)
• 6. I See Dead People in Boats (7:09)
• 7. The Brethren Court (2:21)
• 8. Parlay (2:10)
• 9. Calypso (3:02)
• 10. What Shall We Die For (2:02)
• 11. I Don't Think Now is the Best Time (10:45)
• 12. One Day (4:01)
• 13. Drink Up Me Hearties (4:31)


CD 4: Remixed and Unreleased: (76:58)
• 1. Pirates, Day One, 4:56AM (Original Hans Zimmer Theme from The Curse of the Black Pearl) (3:45)
• 2. Marry Me (Score Suite from At World's End) (11:36)
• 3. The Heart of Davy Jones (Score Suite from Dead Man's Chest) (3:13)
• 4. Lord Cutler Beckett (Theme from Dead Man's Chest/Score Suite from At World's End) (8:46)
• 5. Jack's Theme Bare Bones Demo (Hans Zimmer Piano Demo from Dead Man's Chest) (4:03)
• 6. Hoist the Colours Suite (Score Suite from At World's End) (5:42)
• 7. The Pirate Lord of Singapore (Score Suite from At World's End) (5:57)
• 8. Just Good Business (Score Suite from At World's End) (5:54)
• 9. He's a Pirate (Pete n' Red's Jolly Roger Mix) (3:10)
• 10. He's a Pirate (Friscia & Lamboy Tribal Treasure Mix) (4:36)
• 11. He's a Pirate (Pelo Verde Mix) (4:37)
• 12. He's a Pirate (Chris Joss Ship Ahoy Tribal Mix) (4:03)
• 13. Jack's Suite (Paul Oakenfold Mix) (3:34)
• 14. Jack's Suite (The Crystal Method Mix) (3:46)
• 15. Pirates Live Forever (Ryeland Allison Mix) (3:50)

(total time only reflects original score material from At World's End)




 Notes and Quotes:  


The insert of the regular album includes extensive credits and lengthy personal anecdotes from "digital instrument designer" Mark Wherry about the scoring process on the three films. The 2007 "Soundtrack Treasures Collection" contains extra notation about the music. Its DVD contents include "Making of a Score" (19:48), a general production overview of the scores, "The Man Behind the Pirates Music" (17:38), an interview with Zimmer alone with recording sessions footage, and "Hans Zimmer's Live Performance at Disneyland for the World Premiere of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" (8:37).





   
  All artwork and sound clips from Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End are Copyright © 2007, Walt Disney Records, Walt Disney Records. 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 5/18/07 and last updated 7/20/11. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2007-2013, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.