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Back in the Golden Age of the Hollywood epic, composer Miklós Rózsa lavished much scholarly research on his scores for Quo Vadis (1951), Ben-Hur (1959), El Cid (1961) and others, gracing those movies with music that had as its wellspring authentic (or at least authentic-sounding) melodies from the period. For Ridley Scott's revival of the Roman epic, Gladiator, Hans Zimmer eschews such learned academia in favour of his own more contemporary, wall-of-sound approach (honed to perfection on movies like Tony Scott's Crimson Tide). In truth, no one is quite sure what Roman music sounded like, and Zimmer's unscholarly rock music background is temperamentally better suited to Scott's all-action movie anyway.
Gladiator's score is a stylistic conflation of some audacity, incorporating lavish synthesised, percussive action sequences (a Zimmer trademark), "ethnic" instrumentation including Spanish guitar, Chinese dulcimer and Armenian duduk, and--most suprisingly of all for Zimmer--unabashed plagiarism of Wagner (his cue "The Might of Rome" is "Siegfried's Funeral March" in all but name) and Holst ("The Battle" and "The Barbarian Horde" lean heavily on "Mars"). Vocalist and co-composer Lisa Gerrard (fresh from working on The Insider, coincidentally also starring fellow-Australian Russell Crowe) adds her ethereal vocalisms to the music's more intimate scenes ("Sorrow" and "Elysium" for example). Her contribution brings an exotic, Oriental flavour to a score that in its broad musical canvas reflects the movie's depiction of the vast scope of the Roman Empire. If not the equal of Zimmer's career best work on The Thin Red Line (1998), this is still a hugely entertaining and diverse soundtrack. --Mark Walker
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Top Customer Reviews
I learned of this disk while visiting a handful of high quality/elite audio stores a few years back, many of which by default used this soundtrack as a showcase to demonstrate the range, depth, clarity and overall quality of their high-end sound systems & speakers.
As an audio connoisseur of the classical genera I was blown away by the quality and dynamics of this compilation. Yet, even on the mediocre system I have, the dynamics, range of emotion & character this album exhibits are sublime - this IS a model showcase soundtrack. It's kind of like an educational amusement park ride in the Roman Era in my eyes - full of adrenaline, hype, tragedy, love and entertainment and war - yet amazingly, not cheesy in the slightest.
I learned of this album well before seeing the movie, and in fact - after seeing Gladiator the movie, I was disappointed that it did not deliver what my imagination could while listening and focusing on this soundtrack.
From dramatic orchestral movements to soft and emotional sounds of drama and tension and beyond, the music of this album tells a complex story which does not require pictures to illustrate. Let your imagination be the canvas and paint while listening to this story.Read more ›
The score opens with "Progeny", the same song that opens the movie for those of you who have seen it. I call it a mysterious ballad, lonely in the beginning with Commodus' theme, and then a pretty Spanish guitar towards the end. Immediately after is "The Wheat", a short, desert-like Arabian tune with a single woman humming a melody. The end grows into "The Battle", a 10-minute masterpiece that made the movie in my opinion. Wonderful harmonic instruments and percussion begin the song, and within a minute they disappear leaving the drums and the Spanish guitar. A man vocalizes for a moment, and the guitar returns, strumming a sort of insane little riff than eventually turns into the battle cry of the Roman soldiers. Trumpets blare, drums blast, cymbals crash, stringed instruments begin to tone down the entire song. A little echo-y thing occurs with the trumpets and horns, then this explodes into more percussion and the undeniable theme of Gladiator. The tempos and time signature changes and the song ends miraculously and intensely.
"Earth" seems to be the prettiest song, heard literally from the beginning of the movie to the end. It doesn't contain many instruments, but the solos are so pretty. First, I'm assuming a woodwind plays it, followed by the most beautiful trumpet solo I've heard in awhile. It never ceases to make me hum along.
"Sorrow" is the song played when Maximus finds his wife and son dead (sorry if you haven't seen the movie and I ruined it, but it happens early on so it's not like a surprise).Read more ›
Although I've been wanting this incredible soundtrack for what seems like forever, I just now received this today and would like to thank a special someone in my life who keeps showering me with Christmas and birthday gifts since they're so close together :-). I'm happy to finally have this in my collection...
Most recent customer reviews
The sound trac is awesome and haunting. I try to remember what's happening in the movie when certain parts of the score are playing. If I can't then I watch the movie over again. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Randy Richardson
I think that this is one of only a handful of soundtracks that should appeal to just about everybody whether or not they liked the movie. Read morePublished on June 4 2004
This is definately one of the best scores to any movie I have ever heard. It absolutely never gets old or tiring. Hans Zimmer is a real master at this, and I love this album. Read morePublished on May 24 2004
This score is quite possibly the most fitting for a movie, as well as the most emotional one I've heard. I absolutely love this CD. Read morePublished on May 11 2004 by Mobius