Hans Zimmer

King Arthur [Original Score]

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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann

Since Alan Jay Lerner wrote the libretto for the Broadway musical Camelot in 1960, presentations of the legend of King Arthur and the Round Table have tended to focus, as that version did, on the romantic triangle between Arthur, his queen Guinevere, and the knight Lancelot. Director Antoine Fuqua's 2004 film King Arthur, however, which was produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, who is known for big-budget action movies, is more interested in war than love; the three principals are shown on the poster (and cover of the soundtrack CD) in battle garb with weapons in their hands -- even Guinevere, who brandishes a bow and arrow. Prolific composer Hans Zimmer, then, has little reason to ape Frederick Loewe's stately Camelot music. Instead, he comes up with some typical epic movie scoring, meant to accompany grand armies sweeping through the landscape. The strings soar with anthem-like (and occasionally portentous) melody, a choir voices alarm or anticipation, and there is plenty of work for the timpanists, augmented by drum programming, to reflect those pounding hooves and marching feet. But there is also another register. When Zimmer isn't going for overwhelmingly loud effects, he's going for extremely soft ones, to accompany the occasional moments of intimacy and the funerals that must follow the conflicts. There isn't much attempt at period accuracy, but Moya Brennan turns up here and there, notably on the leadoff song, "Tell Me Now (What You See)," to give things an Enya/Clannad-like ethereal Celtic feel. Unlike most albums of film music, which tend toward brief cues, this one deals in longer segments (with joke titles like "Another Brick in Hadrian's Wall" and "Do You Think I'm Saxon?"), the six orchestral tracks ranging in length from five and a half to 11 and a half minutes. In practice, however, that doesn't make much difference to the listening experience, since each segment is really a suite with different brief sections meant to underpin a specific scene. Zimmer, a fast worker (as all busy film composers must be), certainly isn't coming up with anything new here, but, as usual, he is competent and efficient with his effects.

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