Joshua Gizelt (swashbuckler332) wrote,
Joshua Gizelt
swashbuckler332

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Holy Ragnarok, Batmensch!!!

Before I begin frothing at the mouth, I want to share an observation from Time magazine (November 24, 2003):
1.000 - Mathematical value of perfect flatness.
0.957 - Flatness of a pancake.
0.9997 - Flatness of Kansas, as published in a recent scientific study proving that the state is indeed flatter than a pancake.
Pancakes smell better too (Kansas smells like fertilizer).

The night after my journal post last week went according to plan, and shortly after midnight I began my first real listen to Howard Shore's music from The Return of the King. As Suit, whom I spoke to shortly afterwards can attest to, my reaction was something like this:


Homina homina homina homina homina homina homina homina homina homina homina homina homina homina homina homina homina homina homina homina homina homina homina homina homina homina homina homina homina homina homina homina homina homina homina homina homina homina homina homina homina homina...

This was the first Lord of the Rings album that I didn't - couldn't - listen to again right away, so intense was the experience.

This is both the blackest and brightest of Shore's music for these films. Themes which appeared briefly in the previous two scores now are developed fully. The Gondor theme, first heard on French horn in Fellowship as Boromir waxes about how wonderful Gondor is in Rivendell is now a major theme in this score. The motif heard as he talks to Aragorn in Lothlórien is now heard in "Minas Tirith" and "Andûril." "The White Tree" also quotes "The Departure of Boromir" from "Amon Hen," and "Evenstar" is heard in several cues. The Rohan is no longer broken and weak, but is proud and triumphant. I almost didn't recognize Éowyn's theme, having gone from a meandering string motif to a Valkyrie-esque clarion call.

Valiant deeds with our main characters riding into the halls of legend dictates the glorious music heard on this disc, often fighting against orchestral and choral forces in such a way as so to reach a fever-pitch of intensity, as in "The Fields of the Pelennor."

But the real hardship is in Frodo and Sam's journey, and the cues outlining their toils are even bleaker and more challenging than what was heard in The Two Towers, if such a thing is imaginable. The serious nature of the music that follows them grounds the score, in a way, from the relentless variation of Sauron's theme in "Minas Morgul" to the Herrmann-esque "Shelob's Lair." And "The End of All Things" sounds like... well... the end of all things. Black Speech truly sounds frightening.

"Into the West" works better in context of the album than the sample I heard, and it is thematically consistant with the score, but lacks the resonance with Tolkien that "In Dreams" and "Gollum's Song" had. The orchestral finale, however, is impressively Wagnerian.


This is the image I get in my head towards
the end of the track "The Fields of the Pelennor"


There are no words in Elvish, Entish or the tongues of Man to describe how happy I am with this CD.

What makes this score so important is that it is, essentially, the penultimate chapter of a film score that has been in continuous development over three years. The fact that these films were shot back-to-back and are being released one year apart with an extended DVD edition requiring more music allows a unity to these scores that is unprecedented in film music history.

The scale of this work is huge, partly owing as to the voluminous length of each film, but also because J.R.R. Tolkien's source material is so rich. Shore has had an opportunity here to create something that is to film music what Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen and has risen to the challenge.

I do have a tendency in my Live Journal to dwell upon the things I enjoy, as I don't see the need for much negativity. People may read much of what I write about and chalk it up to hyperbole, which is fair, but I truly think that with The Lord of the Rings, Howard Shore has created a new milestone in film music history, along with Sergei Prokofiev's music for Sergei Eisenstein's films, Bernard Herrmann's music for the Hitchcock films and so on.


HOWARD SHORE
Musical genius and a nice guy, too!


I actually met Shore once. Royal Brown brought him down to Queens College for a Q & A session (Waystone was there). The way he described his compositional style is something that I can only describe as Zen inspiration, which may account for some of the more dreamlike sounds heard in Crash or Videodrome. In contrast to many of the downright terrifying soundscapes he creates with his music, Shore himself was sweet and outgoing.

I must have made an impression, because he seems to have been writing The Lord of the Rings just for me.

My only complaint, and it's more like a quibble than a real complaint, is that, outside of the songs and a short coda, Shore hasn't written end titles for thse films, instead having a series of cues playing over the credit scroll.

The other thing that is exciting about this CD is that Shore is not known for his overstatement. The Return of the King is going to have to be pretty effing huge to justify this score.

And it will be.

An interview with Howard Shore that can be found here outlines Shore's ambitious plans for a box set and... this is awesome... the book Jeff Bond is writing on the scores, that will, it seems, include behind the scenes stuff and lyrics.

Here is a link to an obituary for Michael Kamen.

Michael Small has also recently just died. He is the composer of one of my favorite film scores, Mountains of the Moon, not to mention the prickly Marathon Man.
Tags: film music, howard shore, lord of the rings, michael kamen
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