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Comments about the soundtrack for Gladiator (Hans Zimmer/Lisa Gerrard)

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Original Filmtracks Review of "More Music from Gladiator"
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• Posted by: Christian Clemmensen   <Send E-Mail>
• Date: Saturday, October 27, 2007, at 3:30 p.m.
• IP Address: bushisacriminal.filmtracks.com

[Editor's note: Before I completely re-wrote the Gladiator review in October, 2007, the two original albums for the score were reviewed separately at Filmtracks. The review below was specifically for the "More Music from Gladiator" album and while most of the same opinions exist in the updated review for all the albums, there may still be some unique information about that sequel album contained in this older review. No revisions have been made to it, however, so I can't vouch for its quality.]


More Music from Gladiator: (Hans Zimmer and Lisa Gerrard) As Maximus states, "I will win the crowd. I will give them something they've never seen before." With Ridley Scott's Gladiator sweeping every set of critical and popular awards available, and Zimmer's score album tearing up the sales charts in record stores, it is no surprise that the idea of a second album of music was conjured up. But as Maximus said, Gladiator gives us something we've never seen before. The Decca label, associated with Universal Records, has made its fair share of profits from the "More Music from Braveheart" album many years ago, but for Gladiator, they give us something completely off the wall. It's hard to listen to this sequel album and figure out whether the average movie-goer who purchased the original album will enjoy this one. What Decca has done with it is make it into a study piece for those who are either Zimmer fanatics or those who are fascinated with the process of film scoring at the big budget level. This second album contains demo pieces, rejected cues, alternate takes, accidental recordings, test mixings, and most controversial of them all: dialogue.

Ironically, there are only a handful of new cues on this album that both made it into the film and weren't on the original album. Therefore, for the casual fan, the first album might suffice. But then again, it's hard to underestimate the attraction people feel towards anything relating to Gladiator. I look back at my original review from last April and realize that there was no possible way to predict how popular this somewhat average Hans Zimmer work would become. I still maintain that it is Lisa Gerrard's contribution that has made this score into a best-seller. After all, they are her performances of the "Earth Theme" which open and, more importantly, close the film... extending all of the spirituality of the film. Zimmer's work sadly leans too closely to his synthesizers than the performing orchestra in London. Whether this fact was due to the rushed composing and recording schedule or a choice of Scott, Zimmer's major cues are simply a cross between The Peacemaker and The Prince of Egypt. And unlike the album for The Prince of Egypt, which was indeed missing key cues from the film (including its victorious finale), it's more difficult to get the impression that the original Gladiator album was as lacking. Therefore, with a score that is largely average compared to other cinematic classics, and a previous album which was over an hour long, I can only come to the conclusion that this second album of music from the film is based solely on the phenomena of box office success.

So without unreleased cues from the film comprising the highlights of this second album, the alternative mixes and unused cues are the ones which steal the show. With so many artists from Media Ventures involved with this score (and believe me, the number is vast), there were countless alternative cue contributions, remixing, trial runs, and even the occasional donated cue from another composer. Because my personal interest in this album does not rest in unreleased cues, I am more intrigued by dialogue and interesting alternative takes of certain cues. The dialogue is enjoyable, though keep in mind that I am one of the few people who actually enjoys hearing the best quotes from a film on its CD. The Decca label did it successfully with Hannibal recently, and it works on this Gladiator album as well. Zimmer and Scott produced this album, and they thankfully chose the very best quotes to include on the album, even getting a little bit of Oliver Reed into the mix (which, of course, is noteable because he died in the post-production of the film). The musical highlights include the "Rome is the Light" theme that Gerrard gracefully performed, though it never made it into the film. The duduk performances finally get their dues, especially after Zimmer had tried so hard to get them into the score. Fans of the battle music from the start of the film will be pleased to hear the demo version of that entire scene (interestingly, even with only a synthesizer performance, it sounds remarkably like the finished product). Some of the final cues which didn't make it onto the final album were obviously excluded for a reason; they don't add as much to this album as much as I had hoped.

Two of the main attractions of the score in the film were Gerrard's uplifting "Now We Are Free" performance at the end and Zimmer's Backdraft-style theme for Maximus himself. As a fan of both themes, I was hoping for more elaborate performances of them on this sequel album. Unfortunately, there isn't much new in the way of the Maximus theme... it experiences a solo guitar performance, but not much else of note. Gerrard's "Now We Are Free" cue, which has molded itself into somewhat of a song because of the film's popularity, receives much attention. The piece went through several transformations before the final recording was decided upon. One of the test mixes appears on the second track of this album. With Juba looking up at Elysium at the end of the film, one mix included a much more dominant African influence. It's an interesting twist on that which we are already so accustomed to hearing. The second "Now We Are Free" performance is the disco/dance mix that can I only wonder about... It's amazing what people are willing to dance to these days, though it's not as bad as the disco mix of the Star Wars theme. Overall, I'd definitely recommend this album to those who really enjoy the first Gladiator album, as well as those who enjoy hearing Zimmer's refinement of a piece of work. The sound quality of this album is stunning, and simple stereo sound (as opposed to a surround system) may not provide the ambience necessary to enjoy the music and dialogue at the same time. But as someone who still wishes that Zimmer had scored the film with more orchestral players and less synthesizers, I find this album to be just more of the same, average score. One major plus for this album, however, is Zimmer's amazingly in-depth notes in the insert about each and every track. ***






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rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. Scoreboard created 7/24/98 and last updated 4/25/15.