Howard Shore tops list of 30 greatest film scores for Lord of the Rings
August 28, 2002 4:41 AM   Subscribe

Howard Shore tops list of 30 greatest film scores for Lord of the Rings according to a poll from Classic FM. John Williams predictably enough takes a chunk of the top ten. The site also has audio interviews with Shore and Williams. More about the poll at The Telegraph.
posted by Summer (33 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
A shame that only Strauss gets credited for 2001... there are some great moments in that soundtrack; for example Ligeti's Lux Aeterna.
posted by monkey closet at 5:10 AM on August 28, 2002

It's too bad this has IMDB syndrome (where recent movies are often ranked out of all proportion). And Williams is good, no doubt, but Star Wars is fairly unsubtle work.

Monday I saw the Titanic Exhibition, and they were playing that quasi-Celtic fluty piece of Horner's ... on an endless loop. I actually bought that soundtrack, but frankly, listening to that for half a day would drive me mad.

And it's a darn shame everybody overlooks On Her Majesty's Secret Service, just because it was George Lazenby's one outing. In many ways, it's the best film in the entire series, even allowing for GL's stiff introductory acting; and Barry's score there is one of my favorites. That should be on the list, if Mask of Zorro made it, for Pete's sake.
posted by dhartung at 5:50 AM on August 28, 2002

Being Classic FM, it's more about theme tunes than scores - sadly a lot of the good stuff that's not on this list is not there because it doesn't have any bits that fit neatly into a Classic FM programme...
So what does make a good film score?
posted by monkey closet at 5:54 AM on August 28, 2002

I'm not sure "The Greatest" is the appropriate title for this list. "Most Well Known" perhaps would be better. And no Bernard Hermann?
posted by chill at 5:57 AM on August 28, 2002

It's simply too soon to award him a top spot for "Lord of the Rings" -- heck, it's still playing in my town.
posted by RavinDave at 5:58 AM on August 28, 2002

Properly naming this the "Greatest Soundtracks in Recent History" may have been a better move on Classic FM's part.

However, even given that, I would have put the soundtracks to Gladiator and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon above Shore's work.
posted by thanotopsis at 6:09 AM on August 28, 2002

Wow. Three times lame. No Carter Burwell at all. I would think his score for Miller's Crossing would be up there. Its probably my favorite film score ever. No Thomas Newman either.

And yes, its a sin not to have Bernard Hermann, chill.

Makes one wonder what the criteria was. Box office results?
posted by tittergrrl at 6:30 AM on August 28, 2002

The soundtrack was Lord of the Rings' weakest feature. Extremely derivative and cliched with distracting echoes of The Terminator theme.
posted by gordian knot at 6:33 AM on August 28, 2002

Definitely an accent on the obnoxious, "soundtrack as a supporting character played by a melodramatic ham" school of composition. Which is my high toned way of saying where the fuck is The Third Man?
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 6:43 AM on August 28, 2002

Only one Morricone? and a recent and obvious choice at that (The Mission). 'Fistful of Dynamite (Duck you sucka!)' deserves far more exposure (the film and the soundtrack) - superb.

Also regularly overlooked is Trouble Man - a classic in any genre, although I wouldn't expect to see it on a Classic FM list.

posted by niceness at 6:44 AM on August 28, 2002

Tous les matins du monde. Cinema Paradiso (Morricone) is pretty good, too. (Link is not working for me.)
posted by rushmc at 7:01 AM on August 28, 2002

The main problem with this list is that it was based on a listener poll rather than critics and other movie-types, so you have fanboys skewing the vote.
posted by monkeyman at 7:08 AM on August 28, 2002

I've thought to myself that the LOTR score was weak while I watched the movie. I've seen the movie three times and I can't remember any of the score.
posted by uftheory at 7:12 AM on August 28, 2002

At least the Magnificent Seven made it on there. Shuld have had the Wild Bunch too...all that drunken mariachi bugle really made the whole thing seem very insane.
Where is Pee Wee's Big Adventure? That is one of the best soundtracks of all time.
John Williams is poop. Hell, his tunes are catchy, but like dhartung said, so unsubtle. I hate that style of soundtrack, where the music is overpowering and melodramatic and tells you how to feel, and where a second or two of screen silence is anathema.
posted by Fabulon7 at 7:32 AM on August 28, 2002

30 greatest film scores for Lord of the Rings? I assume they'll all be in the deluxe DVD edition.
posted by poseur at 7:49 AM on August 28, 2002

rushmc: the main theme from Cinema Paradiso is fantastic, it and 'Cockeyes Song' from 'Once Upon a Time in America' are the only tunes that can bring tears to my eye - sentimental (in a good way), melancholic, tear jerking, beautiful.

Can anybody confirm: I heard that during the shoot Leone used to play the music through huge speakers so that the actors would always be in perfect time with the soundtrack? It often looks like it.

(Link is not working for me.)

The link works for me, though slow - quote: "Marvin Gaye's beautiful album is one of the very best soundtracks of the genre. This album gave him the opportunity to explore a jazz feel without losing the soulful funk of his trademark sound. Sparse and almost empty in sound, some truly awesome synth-driven funk instrumentals compliment a great theme and several excellent vocal tracks."
posted by niceness at 7:56 AM on August 28, 2002

I say make with the Nino Rota, and now.
posted by saltykmurks at 8:22 AM on August 28, 2002

Good lord, where's Peter Gabriel's amazing (and groundbreaking) sountrack to Last Temptation of Christ?
posted by mkultra at 8:49 AM on August 28, 2002

I know it wasn't quite written as a soundtrack, but the picture-sound matching and sheer music-editing skill in West Side Story are amazing. Watch the way the camera moves to the music...

The music editing in Grosse Pointe Blank was quite skillful too -- not a score though.

Vangelis? Come ON.

Witness had a pretty cool score...better than the flick itself.

What about Philip Glass? His scores for The Thin Blue Line and Koyaanisqatsi are IMHO the best and least pretentious stuff he's done.
posted by Vidiot at 8:54 AM on August 28, 2002

John Williams is the single worst thing to ever happen to movie music.
posted by zoopraxiscope at 8:59 AM on August 28, 2002

Considering the types of movies that seem to be favored, I'm really surprised to not see that "Die Hard" for the 1700's, Last of the Mohicans.
posted by dglynn at 9:36 AM on August 28, 2002

Wow, what a weak list. I'll second the outrage at the absences of Bernard Herrmann, Philip Glass's "Koyaanisqatsi" (I listen to it while running and it makes me crazy), and Nino Rota. Shame on you, voters-with-no-sense-of-film-history!
And yes, niceness, "Trouble Man" is fucking great! 70's soul giants scoring blaxploitation flicks = pure gold.
posted by ghastlyfop at 10:18 AM on August 28, 2002

I'm telling you, the Dune soundtrack was robbed! Stand up for yourself, Toto!

I have heard many people mention the original Planet of The Apes score by Jerry Goldsmith as being a classic.
posted by Kafkaesque at 11:01 AM on August 28, 2002

Paris, Texas by Ry Cooder too. Where is that one? Hiding out with Bernard Hermann's Vertigo, I'm sure trying to dissassociate from such mediocrity.
posted by readymade at 11:04 AM on August 28, 2002

Why do we always have to celebrate orchestra pieces has being more relevant than other soundtracks? Not to separate this into a VH1 vs. Classical FM definition of 'soundtrack' discussion, I think they should be both measured equally.

Would Saturday Night Fever been such a hit if it didn't have the BeeGees soundtrack? I still remember the background music during the Lobby scene in the Matrix more than any other score.
posted by Stan Chin at 11:04 AM on August 28, 2002

I like Irmin Schmidt's soundtrack for "Flight To Berlin".
posted by liam at 11:14 AM on August 28, 2002

The only part that struck me was the emergence form Moria. good emotion, but this was due to Jacksons work, i mean that scene conveyed to me the utter desperation and gloom that the fellowship faced. Tolkien goes to lengths to explain the hopelessness, but Jackson made me feel it. plus he held the characters personas. had a tear, had a tear. i also found Legetis score in '2001' to be effective in tool in foeshadowing in the same foreboding way as the when Jackson uses no music and just saurons grumbles when someone fiddles with the ring.
posted by clavdivs at 11:24 AM on August 28, 2002

I second the Peter Gabriel Last Temptation of Christ, which is my favorite soundtrack and one that I listen to often. I was surprised not to see Patrick Doyle on there, I really love the Henry V & Dead Again soundtracks. Also (and I'll probably get jumped on for this) but no Danny Elfman? Nightmare Before Christmas or Edward Scissorhands?
posted by witchstone at 11:28 AM on August 28, 2002



(my impression of the Planet of the Apes score)

oh i have found two Heston flicks that have him riding off to gloom on some beach. 'POLA, and El Cid'
posted by clavdivs at 11:29 AM on August 28, 2002

Oh, and I found the score for LOTR to be *very* intrusive and distracting from what was going on on-screen. Which makes a bad score, in my opinion. Or at least bad editing.
posted by witchstone at 11:30 AM on August 28, 2002

LOTR should be booted off the list for one reason alone, those dopey faux-satanic chants in the Balrog scene, which apparently Peter Jackson and his wife made up to sound "atmospheric." Bah.

in other news, where is Rachel Portman, who's won *two* Oscars, for "Emma" and "Cider House Rules"? oh right, there's no women on the list.
posted by serafinapekkala at 11:58 AM on August 28, 2002

"LOTR should be booted off the list for one reason alone, those dopey faux-satanic chants in the Balrog scene"

i remember in the book, the "doom, doom, doom" part of the drums Tolkien describes, that what you mean?

if so, yes, abit faux
posted by clavdivs at 1:15 PM on August 28, 2002

I second Tous les matins du monde. It's too bad we don't have more of Sainte Colombe's music preserved today.
posted by homunculus at 1:17 PM on August 28, 2002

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