Music composed by Jerry Goldsmith

Label: Varèse Sarabande
Catalog: VSD 6038
Year: 1999

1. Old Bagdag
2. Exiled
3. Semantics
4. The Great Hall
5. Eaters Of The Dead
6. Viking Heads
7. The Sword Maker
8. The Horns Of Hell
9. The Fire Dragon
10. Honey
11. The Cave Of Death
12. Swing Across
13. Mother Wendol's Cave
14. Underwater Escape
15. Vahalla / Viking Victory
16. A Useful Servant

Total Time: 54:11

Reviewed by
Jorge Saldanha

Translated by
Jaqueline Tergolina

This 1999 film featuring Antonio Banderas was finished before The Mask of Zorro. However, disagreements between director John McTiernan and writer/producer Michael Crichton postponed the release in almost two years. Meanwhile, Crichton took over, directed adicional scenes and entirely reedited the film (it was said that McTiernan wanted his name out of the credits due to Crichton's deep changes). The disagreemente, however, did not include Jerry Goldsmith's score, who was summoned to fulfil, with an admirable score, the deficiencys of the production.

The 13th Warrior score (not recognized by critics as deserved) resembles the late composer's previous etnical works, The Wind and the Lion and Mummy , with an epic and adventurous sense suited to the story of an exiled Arabian ambassador allied to Viking warriors to fight terrible foes called ‘Eaters of the Dead’. Godsmith's score has three motifs, the first one being a lyrical Arabian theme, in a Hollywood style, with strings, winds and percussion (in short: not very much like the original, but working efficiently).

The Viking dedicated motif follows, based in French horn/trumpet, with male choir accompaniment. As nobody actually knows how Viking music was, the composer expresses his interpretation of how it would have been, mostly displaying that Nordic people's warlike and exploring nature. The last motif is dedicated to the Wendols, the ‘Eaters of the Dead’. This is primitive, based on two notes played by trombone or French horn (similar to The Edge's killer bear), which in the confrontation scenes is accompanied by timpani, frequently crossing over the Viking motif. As the score unfolds, the Arabian motif is followed by the Viking one, which is replaced by the sinister foes'.

The score, thus, progressively carries the audience from a more sofisticated culture to other ones, distinctively barbarian. Goldsmith perfectly blends all sections of the orchestra (this is an exclusively accoustic piece of work, without any use of synthesizers at all) with the male choir, achieving vigorous performances from all of them. After 55 minutes of music, the Arabian motif is brought back, in a more than satisfying closure for a journey full of menace, lyrism and triumph. The lack of a romantic theme is the only weakness in a score in this genre, but it is not Goldsmith's fault: except for an initial brief mention to the reasons that led Ibn (Banderas) to exile, and his later short interlude with a Viking young woman, there is no love story whatsoever.