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.
score (not recognized by critics as deserved) resembles the late composer's
previous etnical works,
The Wind and the Lion
, 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
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.