Today we’re going back, way back. Back in time in fact, but no we’re not using a time machine; today we’re doing period pieces. Each of these is from a different time, a different place, have wildly different plots…but the one thing they share is that they are visually gorgeous and their scores are just fantastic. But with four standout and stellar scores, only one of these makes the trip worth the effort. But which one is it?? Find out after the jump…
Sherlock Holmes – This has got to be Hans Zimmer’s most inventive and playful score to date and good old Hans uses a very different approach here. The music in Holmes is a little slower than most other Zimmer scores (e.g. The Rock, Gladiator) but the score has such a smart sound which is fitting in a film about the world’s most famous detective. Here Zimmer is still is able to achieve that adrenaline fueled feeling that has become his signature. I personally think we are seeing, err hearing a renaissance of sorts as far as Zimmer goes. Could this be a sign that we can expect equally different and impressive work from him in the near future? I guess if the score from Inception is any indication, the answer is yes. Either way this is easily one of the best scores of the past decade if not his personal best. The movie may have had some slow and boring parts but the score kept pace even when the plot got sluggish and brainy.
(Favorite Tracks: Marital Sabotage and He’s Killed the Dog Again)
Road to Perdition – Like Zimmer above, in short, Thomas Newman’s score for this film is his finest and most complex work. It is such a sophisticated piece of work that comes across as both haunting and emotional. The abundance of strings make this a compelling and engaging score which truly compliments the film’s tension filled moments. Each bow draw across the Cello gives an incalculable weight to the scenes. Almost like a metronome the music has a way of getting the audiences heartbeats to increase almost in tandem with the characters on screen. Sure timing the themes and scores to the action is nothing new but Newman keeps the suspense super high. Further, you can’t tell me the rainy alley way scene wasn’t one of the finest silent sequences in movie history heightened only by the spellbinding and intense score.
(Favorite Tracks: Road to Chicago and Ghosts)
Braveheart – Kind of thrilling in battle and a moving score but otherwise pretty boring and repetitious…but then again, that’s Horner. The sheer number of dismemberments on screen kind of pale in comparison to Horner’s ferocity with The London Symphony Orchestra. But on the flipside (being a guy, to me this is a feat in itself) this is probably the only love theme I can recall without having to see watch the movie to jog my memory. Fine work James and aside from The Rocketeer, it’s one of his very best. It’s top notch from start to finish and his work here is enough to make anyone on the planet yell out “Freedom!!” whenever the word Scotland is brought up.
Master and Commander – Three musicians I’ve never heard of compose a rousing score that though intense, it still lacks the high seas adventure of something in the same genre like Klaus Badelt’s Pirates of the Caribbean. Yet as this may be a less “fun” film, this has a more sophisticated score. Moreover the themes are more mature and therefore less in your face. While they do, at times, coincide perfectly with the action they also are very pensive and get us inside the head of Capt. Jack Aubrey. Pulse pounding themes from Iva Davies, Christopher Gordon, Richard Tognetti abound but I believe the slower paced themes resonate just a bit more. Stunning either way and one word easily sums up the trio’s efforts: beautiful.
(Favorite Tracks: Into the Fog and Smoke N’oakum)
While I hate to play he favoritism card, it’s a clear choice that Zimmer wins this bout. It is truly impressive that he has given the film such a rich and worldly atmosphere…even if it does only take place in London. His score may seem awkward to some but then again so is Holmes’ approach to solving a case and it fits the film like a tailored suit. Zimmer’s score is gritty but curious and comprised of, what seems like, found/makeshift instruments. Further, it feels like the score was not only symbolic of but also composed by the gypsies and tradespeople that helped forge the still emerging country.
“The only man to ever outwit me is Hans Zimmer…that brilliant bastard”