Gladiator


From the man who also gave you the soundtrack to Inception, Pirates of the Caribbean, and most recently, Interstellar, Hans Zimmer is quite possibly best known for his impressive work on Gladiator. Initially, hadn’t really paid it too much attention at the time I'd only seen the movie once. It was my little sister (yet again) who took a bigger interest to the soundtrack and snagged the CD. After I got it into my ears I pretty much lost my mind, went on a massive writing spree, and loved every minute of it.

I think you’re going to want times here considering some of these tracks are pretty darn long, and I’ll try not to get carried away in my descriptions as well, seeing as there are 17 tracks and I love this CD. The majority of these songs connect, leading from one into another as well.

1.) Progeny – 2:15 We start off with some quiet flutes here that soon join with violins to become quite ominous. A little harp throws in some sad beauty and we see the desolate beginnings of a battleground…

2.) The Wheat – 1:05 Here is the first place for the lone singer that we will hear many times over. She leaves a trail of sad notes that drops off, drums begin and we have…

3.) The Battle – 10:04 …absolutely hands down my most favorite track on this CD, though I do have to say that a couple others come pretty freakin’ close. Horns and drums start this one in a getting ready for battle sort of feel. This track is for a battle at the beginning of the movie, and as such, the drums create the steady marching beat and the horns and strings soon get hectic, jumping up and down, flashing louder and then softer as catapults launch stones and fire and men clash together in a blur of metal and flesh. At the end the fallen can be seen as the lone singer comes out again and the battle is finally over – but not without a cost.

4.) Earth – 3:03 A very quiet track with low tones from either a clarinet or a flute – hard to tell. Other quiet instruments come in one at a time. This is where we first hear a melody that could be considered as theme music – but always for death. Very slow and melancholy.

5.) Sorrow – 1:28 The lone singer is back, first humming then letting go with what words I don’t understand, soon fading completely.

6.) To Zucchabar – 3:18 The same sad melody plays first here, one instrument taking the main part, backed up by steady strings. The pace picks up slightly in the background, then drops to nothing and all that can be heard in the background are drums.

7.) Patricide – 4:10 Death is sung throughout this song by the strings, though they may rise, fall, crescendo into a fully fledged sob, and then drop into a slightly off-key tone (purposeful and it works completely) and then disappears.

8.) The Emperor is Dead – 1:23 We start with one steady tone that goes throughout the entire song, overlapped by strings that can be barely heard, and a few other instruments that can barely be heard as well, but it’s all a part of the beginning for…

9.) The Might of Rome – 5:20 …this. The steady tone drops off to make way for the clash of a gong, banging drums, low brass, and violins that are straining to make their way steadily up to burst open in a grand gesture to show us mighty Rome, complete with various voices that make an interesting mix. It eventually fades off into something more like a symphonic sound, and a magnificent one at that – like seeing something majestic for the first time ever.

10.) Strength and Honor – 2:11 Another quiet start with low-lying strings and horns that gain strength as they go to become louder, only to fall again and lead to…

11.) Reunion – 1:16 …the lone singer. Haunting us with the past and being joined by a sudden chorus of voices…

12.) Slaves to Rome – 1:02 …that open this track with an upbeat and almost peppy song. The strings are merely the bones of this, as the brass and drums form the rest. The power fades as we get ready…

13.) Barbarian Horde – 10:35 …for another big battle. This is my second most favorite track, ironic how it sounds a lot like track 3. =P It starts much the same way, then raises it’s claws only to never strike. Even darker tones than before continue and then we have a rehash of track 3, starting out slower, more dangerously, and more heavily than before. Then all hell just breaks loose in an all out war. It’s awesome. Trust me, the Emperor did not like Maximus. Even the end is great because you think the hero has won, but you can just tell from the sharp additions that perhaps he has not…

14.) Am I Not Merciful? – 6:35 The end of track 13 slips right into this one with a dark, foreboding tone, pondering death. The music rocks from dark and heavy to a little lighter and possibly hopeful, the strings trying to escape the severely low tones of the bass behind them. The manage to reach up in a beautifully sad way. I was actually writing a death scene to this song at the time and the combination of everything actually brought me to tears. That’s the truth folks. It fades off to the echoing flute of track 3, soon luring in a extremely deep chorus and growing loud and powerful, including even the tolling of a bell to get Maximus’s end right to you. It grows softer in the final few seconds…

15.) Elysium – 2:43 …to open with that one lone singer again. Funny how before I ever took my mythology class I had no idea how to pronounce this word or what it meant. If I thought the song was good before, now knowing, it makes things even better. I have no idea what she’s saying, but the faint jingles in the background and just the sound that seems to have finally found release and rest is so apparent here, and it flows right into…

16.) Honor Him – 1:21 …that sad little theme we’ve only heard maybe once or twice before. It’s still sad here, but peaceful at the same time, continuing with the same feel from above. This track also fades…

17.) Now We Are Free – 4:14 …and reappears here with fast moving percussion and strings that soon pick up right along with them – and the singer decides to join in too. It begins slightly mournful, but the background music is undeniable, though things do go into the sad theme, the song gains strength, raising its face to the sun and suddenly we have a chorus! And a wonderful one at that with clear celebration in it’s voice along with the percussion behind it. It’s brief but effective as we end with the singer and the faint instruments behind her.

Some people aren’t as satisfied with this CD because it lacks a central theme. There is a slight theme, though it is usually associated with things not on the happier side of life, in this CD, but it’s nothing major. I guess what they’re talking about is having a main movie theme, perhaps for the hero or something. Frankly, I think that’s part of the appeal to this CD. If you’re a fan of themes in a movie (music wise) then yes, you’ll probably be disappointed. But I think sometimes themes can get repetitive, and here it’s refreshing to all the music match and yet have no multiple instances of a theme. The closest you get to repetition is between tracks 3 and 13, but 13 takes things to a whole new level that turns it into something different.

This has got to be one of my all time favorite soundtrack CDs. It ranks right up there with Braveheart by James Horner, and Conan the Barbarian by Basil Poledouris. The power of these songs is just undeniable and range in such scope from heavy battle to simple death, it is impossible not to give this 5 stars. I think Hans Zimmer was just in the zone when he wrote these because they are just downright awesome. When it comes to replay value on this CD, let’s just put it this way; if all you have is enough money and you want just one soundtrack, go with this one.

NT


Originally published on Epinions.com


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I am an author, I sell books for a living, and I love music like there's no tomorrow. I've experienced much of this country, from forested hills of the East, to the golden plains of the Midwest, the sandy beaches of the Southeast, and the oh-so-majestic mountains of the Rockies. And when all else fails, eat chocolate.