Review: Dean Allen
THE final part in Howard Shore's grand operatic musical companion
to the Lord of the Rings trilogy is once again a stunning piece
of music that perfectly encapsulates all of the themes begun in
the Fellowship and The Two Towers.
As the final act of an opera, all of the themes previously established
return, either in heroic or melancholic tones.
As an opposite to the fighting spirit of war that so consumed
The Two Towers, the music for Return of the King is gentle and
peaceful, with the occasional hint of darkness.
The unexpected, delicate beginning of 'A Storm is Coming'
reprises the ring theme, but played by a solo fiddle, and then
quickly moves into the foreboding theme of the Ringwraiths.
It's the combination of light and dark that so categorizes this
Once again, Shore uses collaborations to enhance the score, with
Billy Boyd and Viggo Mortensen showing surprising vocal talents
in 'The Steward of Gondor' and 'The Return of the King'
The heroic moments in 'The White Tree' and the choral
splendor of 'The Fields of Pelennor' are standout moments.
'Shelob's Lair' is an incredibly unsettling piece of
music, with sinister and unpredictable strings stabbing fiercely.
The triumvirate of 'The End of All Things', 'The Return
of the King' and 'The Grey Havens' are the tracks that
will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.
Highly emotive, it's here where Shore weaves together all of
the themes associated with the three films. The gentle playful
Hobbit theme, heard at the very beginning of the Fellowship, finally
returns, as does a final, heroic flourish of the Fellowship theme
Annie Lennox provides the traditional final song, which, though
not as immediate as 'Gollum's Song' from The Two Towers,
does fit in well with the final few tracks on the soundtrack.
More folkish than previous songs, with gentle guitar plucking
in the background, it's a great song, but Lennox's vocals are,
perhaps, too well known.
With the exception of John Williams and the Star Wars trilogies,
composers rarely work safe in the knowledge that they are working
on three films over a given time.
With this luxury, Shore has composed a musical trilogy that works
equally well singularly, but as a three-film piece ranks high
among the greatest soundtrack work of all time.
We can only hope that a complete score for all the films (and
extended editions) will be released soon.