With the score to Amazing Grace (2006), English film composer David Arnold -- best known for his scores for Independence Day, Stargate, and Godzilla plus his four James Bond scores: Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough, Die Another Day, and Casino Royale -- completed his graduation from action-adventure to art house. Based on the story of William Wilberforce's 20-year crusade to end slavery in the British Empire, Arnold's score includes bits of quasi-folk songs and pseudo-horn pipes and often alludes to what used to be called Negro spirituals, but his basic material remains unchanged from earlier projects: memorable string tunes, bass heavy harmonies, thickly atmospheric textures, and an occasionally overbearing percussion section. His tone here is more earnest than before -- one hears at times distant echoes of Britten's Sinfonia da Requiem and Four Sea Interludes -- but Arnold's score has the singular merit of being music that functions solely as an adjunct and an enhancement of the images on the screen, as the medium, that is, and not the message. Produced by the composer, orchestrated and conducted by Nicholas Dodd, and featuring an unnamed group of session musicians contracted by Isobel Griffiths, this disc is more of an aural mnemonic device for the film than an independent piece of music, and as such, can't be beat.
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AllMusic Review by James Leonard
|Amazing Grace, film score|