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The Man in the Iron Mask
Album Cover Art
Composed, Conducted, and Produced by:
Nick Glennie-Smith

Orchestrated by:
Bruce Fowler
Suzette Moriarty
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Milan Records
(March 10th, 1998)
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Regular U.S. release. Some initial difficulty finding it internationally was reported.
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Decorative Nonsense
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   Availability | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Audio & Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... if you listen regularly to The Rock and seek a compilation of the best parts of that score slightly restructured into a more listenable package.

Avoid it... if the Hans Zimmer style of powerful masculinity, simple harmonies, and synthetic constructs doesn't fit your notion of a period film score.
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WRITTEN 3/25/98, REVISED 7/6/07
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The Man in the Iron Mask: (Nick Glennie-Smith) It had been nearly twenty years since the last of Alexandre Dumas' novels about the famed Musketeers was translated to the big screen. The 1998 film The Man in the Iron Mask represented screenwriter Randall Wallace's directorial debut; his only other film at the helm over the following ten years would be We Were Soldiers. His own screenplay based on Dumas' material would fail in its attempt to squeeze so many plot elements into one film, and with its poor character development and relative lack of action, The Man in the Iron Mask would travel only as far as its five major male leads could take it. Ultimately, that journey wouldn't last long, and part of the film's lack of longevity was due to critics' bashing of the film's modern edge. Wallace was keen on bringing that updated style to 1662 France, and one member of his production team who was thoroughly modern was composer Nick Glennie-Smith. A graduate of Hans Zimmer's Media Ventures team, Glennie-Smith had arranged and contributed music for a variety of Zimmer's mid-1990's projects. His most notable role would be in the 1996 score for The Rock, and his was involvement in that score that would land him in The Man in the Iron Mask by Wallace's request. The assignment would immediately raise eyebrows, for Glennie-Smith was obviously one of the last people to be associated with period music at a time when Patrick Doyle, George Fenton, James Newton Howard, and David Hirschfelder were dominating the genre with superior results. Despite suggestions by Glennie-Smith that he looked to Handel and Haydn (among other classical composers) for inspiration in composing this score, any competent pair of veteran film music ears will, by contradiction, identify the inspiration as none other than Zimmer. This score is nothing more than an extension of The Lion King and The Rock, with some poor attempts at baroque dance music that sounds anything other than genuine. Nevertheless, the important aspect of The Man in the Iron Mask to keep in mind was that the masculine sound of Hans Zimmer's Crimson Tide was extremely popular at the time, and as such, this score was greeted with great enthusiasm by listeners wanting to hear the power of The Rock without the wailing electric guitars.

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Average: 3.35 Stars
***** 261 5 Stars
**** 296 4 Stars
*** 318 3 Stars
** 175 2 Stars
* 116 1 Stars
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Interesting and unusual orchestral solutions
Sheridan - August 25, 2006, at 12:46 p.m.
1 comment  (2806 views)

Track Listings Icon
Audio Samples   ▼
Total Time: 50:34
• 1. Surrounded (3:48)
• 2. Heart of a King (3:19)
• 3. The Pig Chase (3:28)
• 4. The Ascension (0:50)
• 5. King for a King (6:21)
• 6. The Moon Beckons (2:15)
• 7. The Masked Ball (1:28)
• 8. A Taste of Something (3:58)
• 9. Kissy Kissie (2:08)
• 10. Training to be King (1:38)
• 11. The Rose (2:20)
• 12. All Will Be Well (1:07)
• 13. All For One (4:40)
• 14. Greatest Mystery of Life (1:48)
• 15. Raoul and Christine (1:51)
• 16. It is a Trap (2:46)
• 17. Angry Athos (1:55)
• 18. Raoul's Letter (1:01)
• 19. The Palace (0:27)
• 20. Raoul's Death (1:32)
• 21. The Queen Approaches (1:52)

Notes Icon
The insert contains lengthy notes about the score by Richard Henderson, including the excerpt below:

    "The score for the romantic drama The Man In The Iron Mask was composed by emerging talent Nick Glennie-Smith. Extensively educated in classical music beginning at the age of eight as a chorister at New College, Oxford (one of the main Cathedral choir schools in his native England), Nick furthered his education through music scholarships. He ultimately left school with a passion for rock 'n roll and electronics. Performing in bands led to life as a top session Musician in London, where he worked with the likes of Paul Mcartney, Tina Turner, Phil Collins and Roger Waters of Pink Floyd. With Encouragement from his friend, composer Hans Zimmer, Nick worked in Los Angeles as co-composer, arranger and conductor on several hit films, including The Lion King, Crimson Tide, Nine Months and The Preacher's Wife, among others. He has most recently scored the 1996 summer block-buster The Rock, as well as Home Alone 3.

    In rising to the challenge of scoring The Man In The Iron Mask, Nick found himself linking elements of his classical training to the musical vocabulary of modern rock music. "The film is set in 1662," notes Nick, "but it also incorporates some very modern filmic devices. I wanted to have the classical stuff as a backdrop. For instance, there's a ten minute sequence in the film depicting a masked ball, I didn't think that guitars and other modern instruments would be appropriate at all. So I wanted to create a score with a classical foundation that was capable of having modernity wrapped around it at any time. There are occasional guitars, electric basses and synths and percussion that wouldn't have been standard in a Renaissance Court band, but when it came to action sequences, there was no reason the score shouldn't be as modern sounding as you might want it to be. Not that there are car chases - there aren't even carriage chases in the film! It's not swashbuckling all the time - much of the film has a darker emotional tone."

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