(US cover differs)
The 13th Warrior, based on a novel by Michael Crichton, is about
an elegant Arab emissary (Antonio Banderas) who is abducted by a band of
cruder-cultured Vikings and forced to join their quest to battle mysterious
creatures legendary for consuming every living creature in their path. So
Jerry Goldsmith had to not only forge a grand heroic theme in the grand
traditional manner but also show the contrast between the two cultures. 'Old
Bagdad' immediately suggests all the exotic colour of the locale and the
heroic nature of the Banderas character in striking strongly rhythmic music.
The mood of Arabian exoticism carries over into the second cue 'Exiled' beginning
in more subdued and pastoral/elegiac mood before the tempo quickens and the
music grows more agitated and excited. Goldsmith's textures are dense and
most interesting to the ear and his ethnic orchestrations very vivid. If
you remember his score for The Mummy, then you will know what to expect.
There are also some extraordinary synth birdsong-like effects prominent in
the third cue 'Semantics' as well as the usual array of ethnic percussion
and male chanting voices. 'The Great Hall' impressively
introduces archaic religious chants and church bell tollings to the Moorish
modes in a mysterious/mystical mix before the heroic material asserts itself.
Another richly textured track is "Eaters of the Dead" eerie and repulsive
with sudden staccato shocks and particularly sour brass snarlings and glissandos.
Viking heads is a powerful orchestral outburst suggesting the strident might
and brute strength of the Vikings; massive timpani and anvil hammerings support
crude but thrilling brass fanfares. In 'The Sword Maker' we hear the might
of Thor again plus the heroic theme which is richly developed. 'Horns of
Hell' is another showcase for sets of timps across the sound stage and steel
upon steel with stalwart men's chorus and the threat of mysterious creatures
in the background and suspense and chase music. I think I have written enough
to convey the gist of this score. The remaining tracks develop this basic
material with Goldsmith's usual ingenuity.
If it is colour and excitement you want, it is here in abundance - a rich,
thick-textured score with enough variety to hold the attention; however,
apart from the newer synth elements, the overall impression is of familiar
territory being revisited. Having said that, this score is definitely a cut
above similar work from the competition