LORD OF THE RINGS- A PERSONAL VIEW.

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I have to admit to never fully reading the tome that is LORD OF THE RINGS, I know it is something that needs to be done at some stage, but I suppose I either lacked the concentration or maybe did not realy understand it fully, so seeing the movies for me was the next best thing. After seeing the first in the series, I was left rather cold and even more bemused, why end it here, what happens next and it was at this stage I thought read the book, but again no time and everything got in the way, so eventually I started it again and after a few hours that was it something distracted me. So, when the next movie was released, I was so pleased, and after seeing the animated version I was grateful that Peter Jackson had stepped up and made these live action versions of the famous story about Hobbits, Heroes, Wizards and Orcs. First to the animated film, well, not exactly a runaway success was it, the animation I felt was lacking, and the way in which the story was diluted and condensed down was also rather disappointing.

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But this was all down to a limited budget, the producers being restricted because of the lack of it, the film had its high points and more interesting sections where the animation did look amazing, but, and remember this is just a personal opinion, I always felt a little let down by the movie, at the time they said it was made as an animated feature because they could not afford to make the story or stories as live action pictures, of course a lot of things have changed and we have the advanced technology to make it seem as if we are seeing tens of thousands of Orcs on screen, but back in the period when the animated version of Lord of the Rings was produced these techniques were unheard of or at least in their infancy. Turning to the score for the animated movie by Hollywood composer Leonard Rosenman, well, apart from the central theme or the stirring march theme, I felt this too was feeble, the composer not really taking on board the storyline and scoring the production with at times music that was ill fitting or just tracked to certain scenes. I remember getting the LP record of the score, and later the CD but why I got the CD I am not entirely sure as it was a soundtrack I very rarely played if ever.

 

 

The Peter Jackson trilogy was so far removed musically even though when I heard Howard Shore was to be the composer, I had some doubts. But, the proof of the pudding as they say, and yes, I certainly had my fill of Shore’s proud and romantic sounding scores, the composer creating dark and fearsome themes and sounds to accompany and underline the story of Frodo and Sam the brave Hobbits, evil Orcs, fearless Wizards that are fighting for both good and evil and Heroes in the form of men and Elves who unite to fight the evil tide that is sweeping the land. Shore created a whole new sound and style to enhance and support the storylines and their many characters and scenarios. The music mirrored the darkness and light that was present within the movies and had to it an otherworldly aura and persona that was thick with the mysterious, the magical, the foreboding and fearful and the romantic. The composers work on the trilogy and to a degree the following HOBBIT tales, was as important and influential as the music John Williams composed for the STAR WARS series of movies, and as innovative as the works of Morricone and his like.

THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, THE TWO TOWERS and THE RETURN OF THE KING all contained complex yet at the same time simple scores, filled to overflowing with a wonderful power and a brilliant thematic core on which the composer built his score, and with each successive score we heard his themes and inventiveness grow and multiply. The songs such as MAY IT BE performed by Enya, are enthralling, entrancing and beguiling.

May it be an evening star
Shines down upon you
May it be when darkness falls
Your heart will be true
You walk a lonely road
Oh! How far you are from home
Mornie utulie

Believe and you will find your way
Mornie alantie
A promise lives within you now
May it be the shadow’s call
Will fly away
May it be your journey on
To light the day
When the night is overcome
You may rise to find the sun
Mornie utulie (darkness has come)
Believe and you will find your way
Mornie alantie (darkness has fallen)
A promise lives within you now
A promise lives within you now


With cues such as GOLLUMS SONG being expressive, affecting and haunting, the Icelandic vocalist Emiliana Torrini bringing a certain ghostly sound to the piece. The lyrics being particularly effective with Shore’s mystical strings introducing and accompanying them.

 

Where once was light
Now darkness falls
Where once was love
Love is no more
Don’t say – goodbye
Don’t say – I didn’t try…
These tears we cry
Are falling rain
For all the lies
You told us
The hurt, the blame
And we will weep
To be so alone
We are lost
We can never go home
So in the end
I will be what I will be
No loyal friend
Was ever there for me
Now we say – goodbye
We say – you didn’t try…
These tears you cry
Have come too late
Take back the lies
The hurt, the blame
And you will weep
When you face the end alone
You are lost
You can never go home
You are lost
You can never go home

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The action pieces for the great battles such as THE RIDERS OF ROHAN and THE SHIELDMAIDEN OF ROHAN are nail bitingly entertaining and get the watching audience to the edge of their seats as Shore adds another dimension to the proceedings and ingratiates and underlines each scene adding layers of tension, drama and fearfulness via pounding percussion, imposing choral work and rasping brass and swirling strings.

 

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Then there is the LIGHTING OF THE BEACONS which is a commanding and powerful piece that builds and races as the fires are lit throughout the Kingdom calling all forces together to face one common enemy. To say that Shore’s scores for the trio of movies are monumental is an understatement, because it is grandiose, gigantic and totally consuming. Shore’s music for the trilogy of movies is a powerhouse collection of themes, that are hauntingly effective and also have to them the sinister, relentless, fearful and at times charming personalities that we associate with the Lord of the Rings stories, each film contains core themes that the composer fashioned for central characters at the outset and he has in later productions as in the two sequels developed these and expanded their musical content, by either adding nuances and making extensions to them or arranging the already established and familiar thematic content. His artistry and Masterful handiwork shines through and although at times these changes or arrangements are subtle the music is still an integral and of paramount importance to the action being acted out on screen. At times the music we are aware is present, but it never seems to get in the way of the scene or dialogue, instead it enhances these elements and brings them to the forefront and emphasises the situations, giving them even more depth and stature.

 

Shore opens the first score with the piece entitled THE PROPHECY, a slow and initially quiet opening, but the composition soon builds into something that is rather more grand with choir and brass being pushed along by strings and supported by percussion, until it reaches its foreboding and in a way tormented crescendo. Shore then, alters direction, and utilises a softer approach, strings again are centre stage, as we hear the wistful and slightly apprehensive theme take shape, with Shore adding solo trumpet as the cue evaporates and eventually closes.

 

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Track number two, CONCERNING HOBBITS is a homely and quirky Gaelic infused composition for flute and fiddle, with underlying strings which enhance it further and add to it a delicate air of sophistication and lushness. It is in cue number three that we first hear the first hints and flourishes of menace, THE SHADOW OF THE PAST is at first brooding and ominously shadowy in a subdued way. But, it soon builds into a commanding and fearful sounding piece, with the composer utilising pounding percussion and growling brass that is at times overpowered by choir, there are also swirling and sinister and icy strings present, and when Shore fuses all of these elements together it is an intimidating and raw sound that we hear. The composer conjuring up an atmosphere that is thick with virulence and rich with a sense of danger.

 


THE TREASON OF ISENGARD is another cue that displays moments of light and darkness, Shore employing low strings and booming brass that is underlined by both strings and percussion, the composer then introduces the commanding sound of voices, which are given support by an array of symphonic richness, percussion again working overtime to embellish and enhance. The same can be said for the cue, THE BLACK RIDER Shore’s music purveying a real sense of fear and chaos which is totally unnerving and absorbing. AT THE SIGN OF THE PRANCING PONY is one of the more prominent cues for me but saying this the scores are wonderfully compelling and affecting. AT THE SIGN OF THE PRANCING PONY, is a fusion of all we have heard before, the composer compiling elements of the other cues into one grandiose and potent piece, which involves all sections of the orchestra, including choir, which has to it a celestial but at the same moment a satanic sound.

 

 

A KNIFE IN THE DARK is next in the running order, Shore pulling out all the stops to create a lumbering and crashing composition that is filled with dread and is relentless in its persona.

 

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Mid-way through however the chaos and formidable sounds cease and these give way to a lighter and more serene sound, initially introduced by strings and woodwind, we hear above everything a pure and spiritual boy soprano, which in the movie and also whilst listening away from any images causes one to stop and focus even more intently. It is one of those rare moments in film when the music says everything, there is no need for words or any earth-shattering events, it is the score relating to the gazing audience the beauty of music and image working as one. I think my own personal favourite is the score for THE TWO TOWERS, I cannot really say why I just prefer this score to the other two but saying this I must also say that all three are excellent examples of film scoring. THE RETURN OF THE KING is probably the most complex, with THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING coming in third, Howard Shore is we all know an accomplished and highly respected composer, An innovative Maestro, who’s ability to create and realise music for any situation and any genre of film is well known. Maybe now re-visit the films in the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy and whilst there have a listen to the scores too.

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