Lionheart was the composer's final collaboration with Franklin J. Schaffner, for whom he provided some of his greatest scores, including Planet of the Apes, Patton, Islands In the Stream, Papillon and The Boys from Brazil. While the film is considered a disappointment, Goldsmith's score was not, brimming with colorful themes and motives. This was the era when he was working very heavily with electronics (particularly the Yamaha keyboards, which he had a contractual agreement to credit on several of his film scores), and there are times when the music has a somewhat dated feel because of them, but even those moments are usually offset by the score's bright tone.
First Knight was another film that didn't quite live up to its potential, but was graced with some of Goldsmith's most majestic and romantic music, rising high above Jerry Zucker's bland movie. This was one of the first scores that he had written that was almost entirely (but not completely) acoustic in some time. Whle definitely bearing all of the hallmarks of the composer's distinct style, it is still very much in the vein of swashbuckling classics by Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Max Steiner or Franz Waxman.
While The 13th Warrior did not do well at the box office, it is nevertheless a film which I rather enjoy. The movie was originally titled Eaters of the Dead (the name of Michael Crichton's original book) and featured an exotic score by Graeme Revell. After several disappointing test screenings, Crichton took control of the film from its original director John McTiernan. He reshot several sequences and recut the film, and in the process he jettisoned Revell's score and turned to Goldsmith, with whom he had worked with on Coma, The First Great Train Robbery and Runaway (Goldsmith had also scored Congo and Timeline, both based on Crichton novels, though the released version of the latter film featured a score by Brian Tyler). Goldsmith's music is certainly more traditional than Revell's, but it is also exciting and features one of the composer's boldest themes.
The cover art is a screen capture of the Fire Dragon from The 13th Warrior, altered to resemble a panting (as I had done with John Barry Scores the Middle Ages, this album's companion piece). The disc art is a screen capture of the Round Table from First Knight. In compiling this disc, I used my standard "side one" and "side two" structure. The only reason why it isn't listed this way in these liner notes or on the album artwork is aesthetic; the point of demarcation is at the halfway point of the album, but the seven tracks on "side two" tended to be longer longer than the eleven on "side one," and the resulting discrepancy between them just looked unattractive. So while it was built into the design of the album and has an audible break, it isn't noted as such. From a technical perspective, while I adjusted the levels to be consistent with each other, I didn't alter the dynamic of each recording, although that wasn't terribly much of a problem, and the end result is that the disc sounds pretty good throughout despite the variety of sources, although there are some slightly noisy passages in Lionheart.
These are all adventure films, and consequently this is a loud album. It is big and bold, bombastic and broad.
Just how I like it.
18 Tracks • 81:25
1. THE BRAVE (The 13th Warrior) 1:21
2. ARTHUR’S COURT (First Knight) 3:43
3. THE FUTURE (Lionheart) 1:51
4. NORTHLANDS (The 13th Warrior) 6:05
5. THE LAKE (Lionheart) 3:34
6. FIRST ATTACK (First Knight) 4:45
7. THE FIRE WYRM (The 13th Warrior) 4:51
8. MATHILDA (Lionheart) 5:53
9. THE BOWELS OF THE EARTH (The 13th Warrior)
11. THE SWORD MAKER (The 13th Warrior) 2:05
12. ARTHUR’S FAREWELL (First Knight) 5:22
13. THE HORNS OF HELL · HONEY (The 13th Warrior) 5:49
14. LANCELOT’S RESCUE (First Knight) 4:58
15. THE BANNER (Lionheart) 5:03
16. VALHALLA · VIKING VICTORY (The 13th Warrior) 9:28
17. PROMISE ME (First Knight) 3:46
18. KING RICHARD (Lionheart) 6:12
Music Composed and Conducted by
Performed by the HUNGARIAN STATE OPERA ORCHESTRA
Orchestrations by ALEXANDER COURAGE and ARTHUR MORTON
Engineered by MIKE ROSS-TREVOR
FIRST KNIGHT (1995) and THE 13TH WARRIOR (1999)
Orchestrations by ALEXANDER COURAGE
Engineered by BRUCE BOTNICK
- THE BRAVE (The 13th Warrior) (1:21)
I open this disc with a literal call to adventure with the introduction of Goldsmith's Viking theme for The 13th Warrior. As soon as I hit on the idea of creating this mix I knew that this cue, not heard on the soundtrack album, would be the first track on it, perfectly setting the stage for the music to follow. The theme is a long-form theme for brass and male choir in its native form, but it is heard throughout the film in various arrangements. This track forms the first movement in this album's "overture."
- ARTHUR'S COURT (First Knight) (3:43)
The "overture" continues in this medley outlines the arrival of Lancelot (Richard Gere) and Guinevere (Julia Ormond) at Camelot in First Knight and encompasses the primary thematic material from that film. The dreamy love theme is heard first rising out of the sturm und drang of the previous track. Heraldic trumpets lead into authoratative statements of the music for King Arthur (Sean Connery) in "Camelot" (this is the only selection from this suite heard on the soundtrack album). Lancelot's heroic theme — one of Goldsmith's most obvious nods to Korngold — blasts forth as he navigates "The Gauntlet." The track is concluded with a more subdued variation on Arthur's theme as "Lancelot Leaves."
- THE FUTURE (Lionheart) (1:51)
Continuing with my "overture," this piece introduces two of the major themes from Lionheart, the yearning love theme for Robert (Eric Stoltz) and Blanche (Nicola Cowper) and the rising, noble Robert's quest to be a Knight. Their representations here are subdued, as befits the structure of the score as a whole. On the Lionheart: Volume 2 album, this cue was attached to the end title (heard in track 18 as part of "King Richard") to close off the LP.
- NORTHLANDS (The 13th Warrior) (6:05)
The final part of my "overture" is the first portion of this track: "One God" (not heard on the soundtrack album) presents Goldsmith's Arab-influenced theme — not too dissimilar from material from The Mummy, composed the same year — for Ahmad ibn Fadlān (Antonio Banderas), heard in the film as Buliwyf (Vladimir Kulich) asks him to demonstrate the act of writing. The album proper then begins with "The Great Hall," which introduces a three-note electronic "mystery" motif; the bulk of the cue is built around this device mixing with variations on the Viking theme first heard in track "The Brave" (track 1).
- THE LAKE (Lionheart) (3:34)
A beautiful melody for harp and electronics open this cue; it is taken over by strings and flute then oboe. The love theme introduced in "The Future" (track 3) then makes a ravishing appearance. The heroic motif for the characters' journey concludes the track.
- FIRST ATTACK (First Knight) (4:45)
Opening with forbidding violins and nervous woodwind figures, "The Ambush" soon steps up to aggressive action with thunderous percussion and fugal brass; the martial, descending theme for Malagnant (Ben Cross) forms much of the basis for this cue. The piece climaxes with an explosive rendition of Lancelot's theme in "Rescued By Lancelot."
- THE FIRE WYRM (The 13th Warrior) (4:51)
One of the major action set-pieces of The 13th Warrior is the siege of the village of King Hrothgar (Sven Wollter) by "The Fire Dragon," cavalry with torches. A twisted clarion call represent the savage Eaters of the Dead as they attack the fortifications Buliwyf had organized. The entire orchestra gets a workout, the only respite coming in a pensive but tense passage as Achmad realizes that the Eaters of the Dead are only human and can be killed. A group of horsemen penetrate the outer wall, but Buliwyf's defenses hold and the attack is repulsed. In the film a portion of "Viking Heads" is heard as he salutes the retreating Eaters of the Dead; I have tracked in the same portion here to conclude this track.
- MATHILDA (Lionheart) (5:53)
After the exhausting events of the previous two tracks, relief comes in the form of this delightful cue built around several whimsical variations of the English folksong-inspired theme for Mathilda (Deborah Barrymore). A more introspective passage follows reprising material from "The Lake" (track 5).
- THE BOWELS OF THE EARTH (The 13th Warrior) (4:11)
This track is a suite essaying the attack of the heroes of The 13th Warrior upon the caverns of the Wendol. "Swing Across" is one of the score's most colorful moments as Achmad and the Vikings deal with a waterfall. The clarion call for the Eaters of the Dead introduces a much darker tone as they penetrate further in "Mother Wendol's Cave," featuring an insistent string and trumpet motif with variations on the Viking theme on French horn as the intruders engage their enemies. I backtrack for a few moments with a dire variation on the clarion call heard in "The Cave of Death," as the protagonists find that the monicker 'Eaters of the Dead' wasn't just hyperbole. The conclusion of "Mother Wendol's Cave" follows, concluding with a 'moving' passage as the heroes begin their escape.
- THE CIRCUS (Lionheart) (2:19)
Robert meets Blanche and Michael (Dexter Fletcher) at a circus; this playful cue features a tumbling theme that is heard in several modes throughout. The track has been slightly shortened from its full length.
- THE SWORD MAKER (The 13th Warrior) (2:05)
A bold statement of the Viking theme leads to whimsical variations on Achmad's music as he finds the broadsword too heavy for practical use. He finds a metal-worker and has it re-forged into a scimitar, and the track concludes with a heroic flourish of Achmad's theme. This is the unofficial end of "side one" for this disc.
- ARTHUR'S FAREWELL (First Knight) (5:22)
"Side two" opens with this thunderous battle sequence featuring a chanting chorus (which was, outside of the Omen trilogy, relatively rare for the composer, who tended to use his choir more for color). The outraged text is written from Malagnant's point of view and is set in opposition to Arthur's theme, which is heard in dark variations at the beginning, but soon becomes more assured and then triumphant as his forces win him a posthumous victory.
Hoc regnum meum est!
Dominus deus noster,
Dues solus est,
Dues in caelo.
The kingdom is mine!
Pay me homage!
Lord our God,
The only true God,
God in Heaven.
- THE HORNS OF HELL · HONEY (The 13th Warrior) (5:49)
After a bold statement of the Viking theme, the first cue in this track develops Achmad's theme as he rescues a child from the Fire Dragon, with the mystery and Eaters of the Dead motives heard throughout. I then segued to a pensive scene after the ensuing battle ("The Fire Wyrm" track 7) featuring the Viking and Achmed's theme intertwining. I discovered the transition quite by accident, and while I usually try to come up with a new name for the suites I create, this simple bridging of two cues, both with rather poetic titles, seemed fine the way it was.
- LANCELOT’S RESCUE (First Knight) (4:58)
This is a suite which follows Malagnant's kidnapping of Guinevere framed by two glorious renditions of the love theme, beginning with the pastoral "Riding Lesson." "The Abduction of Guinevere" features more swashbuckling flourishes and rousing, syncopated renditions of the love theme; Lancelot's theme is heard in opposition to Malagnant's in "Lancelot in Pursuit." The track concludes with a magical rendition of the love theme, "The Kiss." None of this music was heard on the soundtrack album.
- THE BANNER (Lionheart) (5:03)
An inspiring appearance of Robert's theme leads into a bright version of the journey theme. This is followed by the introduction of the heraldic brass theme for King Richard (Neil Dickson). Robert's theme then returns in one of its most evocative renderings featuring electronics, percussion and strings.
- VALHALLA · VIKING VICTORY (The 13th Warrior) (9:28)
There was again no question as to what I would use for the climax of this album. Savage statements of the mystery and Eaters of the Dead motives periodically interrupt as Achmad kneels to pray, but in this, his most heroic moment, his theme is serene. Similarly, when the dying Buliwyf appears and begins to recite his own epitaph, a calm but determined version of the Viking theme is heard (this portion was cribbed by Ridley Scott for a scene in Kingdom of Heaven). This theme then explodes into the most heroic setting in the entire score (this is the original version of the cue, but due to significant post-production re-editing, this latter sequence was re-scored by Goldsmith in Los Angeles, using similar music but inverting the structure so that the cue leads up to the triumphant statement of the Viking theme). A still passage appears as the defeated Eaters of the Dead retreat into the fog, leading into a blaze of brass signifying the titular victory (this is all different from the version that appeared in the film, but much of the latter portion based on the same ideas), Goldsmith employs one of his trademark "moving things along" compositions for bells, woodwinds and strings (this doesn't appear in the film), which signals that we have are ready to wrap the album up soon.
- PROMISE ME (First Knight) (3:46)
The first track of the denoument is one of the musical set-pieces of First Knight, presenting glorious versions of both the love theme and Arthur's theme. This was essentially the "overture" of the soundtrack album, although it figures in the film's end titles.
- KING RICHARD (Lionheart) (6:12)
The journey theme is heard briefly before the love theme introduces a hopeful passage leading to proud statements of Robert's and Mathilda's themes. The love theme rises and the end credits begin to roll to the final version of Robert's theme, where it is fused to the King Richard theme, illustrating that he has attainmed his goal and become a knight. It is with this evocation of unabashed heroism that I close the album.