Composed by: Alan Silvestri and Glen Ballard
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Records
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Once upon a time, there was an Anglo-Saxon poem which told of the heroic tales of Beowulf, who battles monsters plaguing the land and eventually becomes king. Although this poem was written some time between the 8th and 11th century, the story lives on in a Robert Zemeckis adaptation of the poem. The screenplay for the digitally enhanced live action movie was created by Neil Gaiman (of Sandman, Neverwhere, and MirrorMask fame) and Roger Avary (best know for his work in Pulp Fiction). Selected to compose the music for the soundtrack of this epic tale is Alan Silvestri, well-known for his many award-winning musical scores - Back to the Future, Forrest Gump, The Polar Express, and Predator to name a few.
The soundtrack of Beowulf brings us back to the times of knights and barbarians…of warriors and dragons. Those of you old enough to remember the movie Excalibur, a tale of King Arthur, Merlin and the Knights of the Round Table, will remember the amazing soundtrack composed by Trevor Jones. The soundtrack of Beowulf sounds to me as if it was composed with Jones’ musical score in mind. The huge orchestral pieces combined with the choir give the listener the feeling that an epic battle is taking place – the heart begins to pound…the pulse begins to race…something important is definitely taking place in the movie. When the music to every such piece ends, the listener is left breathless, yearning for more.
Glen Ballard, an award-winning producer best known for his work on Alanis Morrisette’s Jagged Little Pill album, is also credited with composing music for Beowulf. Ballard has worked with Alan Silvestri before, creating the award-winning song Believe for The Polar Express Soundtrack. This time around, Glen Ballard assisted Silvestri in creating the track A Hero Comes Home which is performed twice on the Beowulf Soundtrack. That brings me to the lone criticism of this soundtrack – the last track of the soundtrack is the version of A Hero Comes Home that plays along with the movie’s closing credits. This particular version is performed by Tony Award Winner Idina Menzel, best known for her work in the musical Wicked. However interesting Menzel’s voice may be, her vocals, as well as the pop music version of this piece have no business in this soundtrack. I much more prefer the version as it is performed earlier in the soundtrack by actress Robin Wright Penn. Her version, as well as another song performed by Penn, Gently As She Goes, fits the movie better. This movie is a period piece and the soundtrack should reflect this. The songs as performed by Robin Wright Penn have a folksy renaissance feel to them and thus fit the movie perfectly.
Other than The last track of the CD, the soundtrack of Beowulf is one incredible masterpiece. Yes, I said masterpiece – any musical score that can elicit such a heart-pounding, nail-biting, need for more sort of reaction deserves the label of masterpiece. Alan Silvestri has created a musical score that perfectly fits this movie. His composition defines the warrior Beowulf, his battles, his rise to power, his weaknesses – this soundtrack encompasses them all. Purchasing the Beowulf Soundtrack will be one of the best purchases a music fan could make this year.