Film scores

Soundtrack review: The legend of Tarzan (Rupert Gregson-Williams – 2016)

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“The Legend of Tarzan” is a 2016 American action adventure film drawn upon the fictional character created by Edgar Rice Burroughs. It has been years since the man once known as Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgård) left the jungles of Africa—where he was raised by gorillas—behind for an aristocratic life in London as John Clayton, 3rd Viscount Greystoke, with his beloved wife, Jane Porter (Margot Robbie) at his side. Now, he has been invited back to the Congo Free State to serve as a trade emissary of the House of Commons, unaware that he is a pawn in a deadly convergence of greed and revenge, masterminded by the corrupt Belgian Captain Léon Rom (Christoph Waltz). The music was written by Rupert Gregson-Williams. Just like the previous Tarzan movie where David Newman wrote the score, the composer comes from a film music family.

Right away “Togetherness” stuns me because it has the weight and intensity of an end credits suite. It has that Hans Zimmer epic factor and build up and I can’t help but adore this cue. I wonder if the composer wanted to make us connect with the characters through this theme before they had to go through their tribulations.

It’s obvious that Hans Zimmer was involved with this score. “Streamer and Butterfly” for example samples “The Dark knight” and I get nostalgia for that wonderful score. Not only that but the entire album has a familiar Zimmer feel to it. I have a mixed reaction at this: on one hand I love it because it’s the most familiar and pleasant musical place for me, on the other hand it strips “The legend of Tarzan” of its identity and separates it from the story and character.

If David Newman’s composition thrived on the adventurous moments, Rupert Gregson-Williams went for the gut with his music. The emotional parts are deep and affecting and there are no half measures when it comes to tugging on the chords of the heart. A cue like “Returning home” gets dramatic and I feel it. It’s with moments like this and “Campfire” that the score gets me. I love the emotional weight of the music and I like that the composer didn’t hold back.

Seeing the trailer and reading about the movie I realized that the composer shows us that this is the story of a more mature Tarzan. This is not about his growing up in the jungle and his adventures there, this is an accomplished man returning home to deal with problems so the music sacrifices the spectacular action for the more moody and thoughtful. The dramatic and serious dominates the score while the electric action moments that appear at the right time complete the atmosphere of the score.

I enjoyed the moments of epic buildup and quite a few of the emotional pieces. Overall “The legend of Tarzan” was a satisfying drama score.

Cue rating: 83 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 25 / 68

Album excellence: 37%

Highlights:

Togetherness

Returning Home

Campfire

Tarzan and Jane

Catching the Train

Jungle Shooting

The Legend Of Tarzan

 

 

About the author

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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