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• Posted by: David   <Send E-Mail>
• Date: Wednesday, November 26, 2003, at 9:18 p.m.
• IP Address:

Here's my opinion after 2 or 3 listens. I adore Shore's work on the trilogy, his music is what initially drew me into Lord of the Rings and it totally creates Middle Earth when I hear it. These opinions are also based on the soundtrack releases of the scores, not the actual film music which, thankfully, we'll be able to hear when a full release of the music comes out at the end of 2004 (see Howard Shore's interview with Fellowship of the Ring is a very balanced score. There are wonderful light moments of hope and beauty with the Shire theme, the "mushrooms" theme, and the Rivendell music. Even the Fellowship theme itself is full of hope and nobility. "The Breaking of the Fellowship" is the most emotional music for me so far, but I haven't seen Return of the King so who knows. "May It Be" is an awesome way to end the score and the movie. I swear Enya's voice was created for Middle Earth. Since Fellowship is our introduction to Middle Earth and the world of Lord of the Rings it has a very epic, fantastical sound to it to match the incredible vistas, architecture, and cultures of the story. With Two Towers, a shift appears. The world of Lord of the Rings has already been created, musically and cinematically. The story is now dark. The fellowship is broken and things aren't looking good. The score follows this feeling excellently. The main theme, the Rohan theme, has the same nobility and power of the Fellowship theme, but the Roahn theme contains a sad, contemplative side to it, in part because of its often solo performance. The recurring themes from the Fellowship of the Ring are presented in a more reflective and sad way. This is all in keeping with the narrative. Two Towers also contains epic battles. The score does contain the most battle music, the loud marching sound of the Uruk-Hai theme, the Helm's Deep cue, and of course the Mordor and Sauron themes are widely present. These elements combine to give Two Towers the overall feeling that the real adventure is beginning, battles have to be fought, and things do not look good. Definitely the darkest of the three scores. "Gollum's Song" is a pretty good way of communicating the pitifulness of Gollum and the conflict within him. However, it doesn't have the same Lord of the Rings/Middle Earth feel that "May It Be" has. It works though. Now for the reason for writing this. "Return of the King" is not what I expected. I was expecting a grand "knock your socks off" score. That was not the case and as I think about it, that is appropriate. This score contains more light moments than Two Towers. There are moments in the beginning which sound like a waltz. The Gondor theme just heroically shouts "hope, courage, and glory!" The end of "The White Tree" makes me want to stand up, swear allegiance to Gondor, grab my sword, assualt the neighbor's house. This feeling was lacking in Two Towers. With that said, I must say I wish this Gondor theme had been used much more in the score, much in the same way the Fellowship theme was fully repeated in Fellowship of the Ring. There are no moments with the Gondor theme where it fully explodes like the Fellowship theme does in "The Bridge of Khazad-Dum". That is the only disappointment for me. But as you will see, there is a reason for that. The flute moments and the end of the score, following the story (no spoilers) are appropriately light hearted as well. There is no real action music like that heard in Two Towers with such cues as "Forth Eorlingas" (my favorite). It does contain some grand and dark moments, appropriately. "Shelob's Lair" is a gut-wrenching cue, it scares the heck out of me when I listen to it. I can't wait to see that scene in the movie. "The End of All Things" is also a grand, dark, and sinister cue which I can only imagine is for the scene when the hobbits are inside a certain mountain. Overall, there isn't a lot of "loud" music, however. The last few tracks that wind down the score and the trilogy, though lighthearted, are very subdued, contemplative, and sad still. I think these tracks contain the overall feel for the score. I won't go into the controversial "Into the West". I'll just say it's not the greatest. As far as the overall feel of the score, if I had to use one word, I'd say "weary". It feels as though the adventure is really catching up to everyone and they're just ready for it to be over. After it is over, i.e. the last few tracks, everyone's dog tired and changed forever. The ordeal has been so trying that they'll never be the same. They'll never have the same lightheartedness that was present at the beginning of Fellowship, and was demonstrated in the music for Fellowship. This is beautifully communicated in the score for "Return of the King". This overall feeling of weariness is present throughout the entire score, not just the end. I strongly believe this is the reason that the score is mostly subdued and contemplative, it's to communicate the shear weight and pressure created by the situation and how it is affecting the characters. I continually see Frodo's face in this poster:;category_id=2488;pcid1=2472;pcid2= when listening to the score. The score just resonates with the fact that all the characters, but especially Frodo, are forever changed by the events of the story, something Tolkien strongly communicated about Frodo and why he had to go to the Grey Havens. I realize this is a long post, but I had to talk about the first two to set up my "thesis" about the feel of the third one. Maybe I'm off the mark with my "weariness" theme, but to me that is the substance of the score. I can only anticipate that the movie will be that way as well. So, even though it was not what I was expecting, I think it is everything it needs to be. When taken with the other two scores, Return of the King is a superbly surprising effort. The score for The Lord of the Rings is a sheer masterpiece.

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