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Kingdom of Heaven OST


Review: Jack Foley

HANS Zimmer contributed a memorable soundtrack to Sir Ridley Scott's Gladiator, so it is up to composer, Harry Gregson-Williams to do the same for Kingdom of Heaven.

Best known for his work on the Shrek films, Gregson-Williams has also supplied memorable scores for the diverse likes of Man On Fire, Team America and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason and is clearly making his way up the Hollywood pecking order.

Kingdom of Heaven, though, marks his most ambitious undertaking to date, one that calls upon him to provide a score capable of recapturing the powerful drama and epic grandeur of the Crusades movie.

Yet while the score works well within the confines of the film, it struggles to gain a foothold in CD form, desperately needing Scott's images to accompany it.

At its best, it provides a heady mix of contrasts, offsetting the 123 voices of the Bach Choir with the sound of a small group of Turkish musicians from Istanbul, as well as the acclaimed early music ensembles, Fretwork and the Choir of the King's Consort.

Hence, during the grander moments, the mixture of styles deftly reflects the warring cultures, as in Wall Breached or the genuinely rousing The Battle of Kerak.

Yet the momentum often feels muted, particularly during the early stages, as the film builds towards its set pieces.

Opening track, Burning The Past, features only a consort of viols that are designed to evoke the chilly desolation of medieval France, yet while they provide a fitting backdrop to Scott's moody landscapes, they offer very little in the way of listening pleasure.

The soundtrack only really begins to blossom as Orlando Bloom's Balian arrives in Jerusalem, thereby allowing Gregson-Williams to draw from different musical cultures and use instruments such as an Arabic violin.

And he even employs the Eastern vocals of Natacha Atlas to round off proceedings with Light of Life, a song which is clearly designed as a celebration of life in the wake of the bloodshed.

Such tracks, while beautifully composed, cannot do enough to escape the overall feeling, however, that this is a score that is best enjoyed while watching the movie.

 

Track listing:
1. Burning the Past
2. Crusaders
3. Swordplay
4. A New World
5. To Jerusalem
6. Sibylla
7. Ibelin
8. Rise a Knight
9. The King
10. The Battle of Kerak
11. Terms
12. Better Man
13. Coronation
14. An Understanding
15. Wall Breached
16. The Pilgrim Road
17. Saladin
18. Path to Heaven
19. Light of Life (Ibelin Reprise)

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