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Soundtrack review: King Arthur (Hans Zimmer, 2004)

Film scores Hans Zimmer perfect scores

Soundtrack review: King Arthur (Hans Zimmer, 2004)

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If I would organize a Hans Zimmer presentation fair for the masses, I would put the score for King Arthur at the entrance, right after the hostesses (which would be the cues “Chevaliers de Sangreal” and “A way of life”, but let’s not get into that). If I wanted to show everyone, even people who aren’t necessarily into film music, or even into films, how powerful Hans Zimmer’s music is I would play King Arthur for them.  If there can be debate about some of his scores, about who they best appeal to (old school film music fans, purists, action music lovers, contemplation music lovers, synthesizer fans, whatever), I think King Arthur is a universal score that will please and touch almost everyone from the first listen. It doesn’t stay in the background; it reaches out and grabs you gently. I remember one afternoon when I was working with my father in our basement and I left King Arthur playing. It didn’t take long for my dad to notice the beautiful music and ask me what it was.
The score for “King Arthur” is a beautiful and vast mountain landscape. It has sharp peaks, rocks, wide and green pastures; it has deep valleys and also a stream flowing somewhere, and it has the wind blowing freely and bringing echoes of far away voices to the one who stopped to rest in this landscape. This score has everything. The official release has only 7 cues, but each of them long (8-10minutes) and powerful. They all evoke this image to me, and it’s a score that I always appreciate out of context with the movie. It’s a great standalone listening experience, it has an identity of its own and I can create my own story for it. If you like action cues, just check out “Do you think I’m Saxon”; it’s simply gripping. If you want to dream, listen to the main theme, “Hold the ice” or “Another Brick in Hadrian’s Wall”. If you simply want everything, just listen to “Woad to ruin”. It’s the star track of the score, the peak of this mountain landscape, the place from which you can see all of it. This cue would feature on my list if I were to choose a “Best cues” album for Hans Zimmer.
The main theme, “Tell me now” is beautiful. There’s no other word for it. It was co-written by and it features the voice of Moya Brennan, the first lady of Celtic Music and the founder of the legendary band Clannad. I applaud Hans’ decision to go for her on this movie instead of his usual female muse Lisa Gerrard, because the mood of this score needed more width than depth. This theme and her voice also feature on “Hold the ice” (a heartbreaking and lonely cue, which melts the said ice of our mountain landscape), “Budget meeting” and the final track, and my favorite of the score, the gorgeous “All of them!”
It’s an album to be played when you go for a long run, when you read at home or when you want to dream. It’s simply a score to be listened to. Your life will feel a little richer afterwards, I promise you.
My ratings:
Cue rating: 100 / 100
Total minutes of excellence: 58 / 58
Album excellence: 100%
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Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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