Maybe you missed this one I did……
A few years before we heard Finnish composer Tuomas Kantelinen work his musical magic on The Legend of Hercules, the composer created an epic and symphonic soundtrack for Arn-The Knight Templar in 2007. The soundtrack was released by Swedish label Bonnier Music and contained twenty-three cues, with a running time of just over forty-five minutes. The release is now long out of print. I only recently discovered the movie on Amazon Prime by chance and was impressed by the high-quality production and the magnificent and sweeping score that Kantelinen had composed. The music is filled with grandeur and overflowing with lush melodies and beautiful choral work.
Arn, is the son of a Swedish nobleman who is sent to the Holy Land as a knight templar to do penance for a forbidden love. Two films charting his adventures were produced, but it looks as if only music from the first film was released, which is such a pity as both movies contained so much music and music that is consistently very good indeed, I would go as far as to say that this is probably the best score that the composer has written.
The second movie Arn -At the Kingdom’s Roads End, was released in Swedish cinemas in 2008, but for the UK or English version which was issued onto DVD they combined elements of both the movies, which is I am sure the edit I watched on Amazon Prime. I am not certain if a second release of music was planned but it obviously never came to fruition. There are a few sections available on you tube, including a suite of the music which runs for nearly eleven minutes.
Kantelinen scored the first film in the same year that he worked on Mongol The Rise of Genghis Khan, and The Year of the Wolf but these are three very different scores, in their sound and also in the way they support and enhance each movie, the composer becoming chameleon like in his approach and producing scores that at times do contain certain quirks of orchestration, but I do not think anyone would guess that these are the work of one composer.
Arn The Knight Templar, in my opinion being the superior work, although Mongol was arguably more innovative and inventive at times even hailed as musically ground-breaking as in the way the composer orchestrated it and the instrumentation that he utilized. And The Year of the Wolf is at times subtle and melodic in a restrained way.
The score for Arn, being very much in a traditional and heroic style, also having to it a spiritual and lavish content. I am surprised that the soundtrack has not thus far been added to the ever-growing digital platforms, or even a re-issue of the soundtrack been forthcoming seeing as so many quite literally worthless scores are re-issued monthly. (so it seems). This is a proud and anthem-like work, one that contains a plethora of rich thematic material that tantalizes, inspires, and enthralls.
The CD release opened and closed with a song entitled Sno, which was performed by Laleh Pourkarim, which contains a beautiful and emotive melody, that helps set the scene for much of what is to follow. Laleh is an Iranian-born Swedish singer-songwriter and former actress. Following a short acting career, she entered the music industry in 2005 with her self-titled debut album which peaked at number one in Sweden and went on to become the highest selling album of the year, her unique vocalizing adds much to the already alluring score. The composer’s central theme which forms the foundation of the remainder of the work is gorgeously haunting and is grandiose and lavish in a style that one would connect with a Hollywood blockbuster as scored by the likes of John Williams. Kantelinen also makes effective use of both solo voice and choral elements creating an affecting persona to the work.
The music quickly establishes itself within the movie because it is so impressive and works wonderfully with the stunning images and the engrossing storyline, adding depth, emotion, and atmosphere to the proceedings. The composer arranging and adapting the core theme to the various stages of Arn, s life as he grows from a playful, mischievous, and curious boy into adolescence and eventually into a man, underlining and accompanying his at first shy fascination and then his burning and eternal love for Cecilia.
The Love Theme for example is a string led affair which is extended further in the cue entitled Adagio, a subtle yet emotional piece that is deeply affecting. but also has to it a beat that although not overpowering is effective.
The score contains numerous compositions which are of a religious nature, performed by choir, but I suppose for a movie that involves the Crusades this is to be expected. The score is awash with marvelously lyrical compositions, that can be compared to the likes of Howard Shore as in Lord of The Rings, and with the heartrending and highly sensitive style of the late James Horner in scores such as Braveheart. And has echoes of John Barry’s The Last Valley score. The similarities being fleeting but evident within the chord progressions and overall placing of the music. Check out the sections on you tube and seek out the album. This is a gem of a score, highly recommended.