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Soundtrack Review

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Original Motion Picture Score


Composer: Marco Beltrami
Label:Sony Classical
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 12 August 2016

Sony Classical release Marco Beltrami's score for Ben-Hur. The film follows the epic story of Judah Ben-Hur, a prince falsely accused of treason by his adopted brother Messala, an officer in the Roman army. Stripped of his title, separated from his family and the woman he loves, Judah is forced into slavery. After years at sea, Judah returns to his homeland to seek revenge, but finds redemption...

There's is no escaping the fact that Marco Beltrami turns in an epic score for an epic movie. It's overflowing with beautiful music and interesting themes. There's just one problem: after weeks of listening to it I'm no closer to it than I was on the first listen. None of the themes (and there are plenty) stuck with me and none have found there way on to my favourites playlist, and I have no idea why.

In the past I've loved his work on scores including 1864; The Giver; Gods of Egypt; The Homesman; Snowpiercer; and by far my favourite, Knowing, but while Ben-Hur had all the right ingredients it just didn't seem to stir anything in me.

Beltrami's approach is also impressive. He took ancient Greek and Roman instruments such as lyres, aulos, citira, tartold, and salpinx and processed them electronically to give the score a modern feel. He also employed a traditional orchestra in a bid to give the score some scope.

Of the album's 27 tracks (1 hr, 06 min, 14 sec) there were flashes of that Beltrami greatness in the tracks 'Dear Messala'; 'Brothers Divided'; 'Home Invasion'; and 'Training'. I think the problem is that there's no clear focus, the music is all over the place sounding more like an action adventure sci-fi movie than an movie set during the Roman Empire.

While still an enjoyable album, it's certainly not up to Beltrami's usual standard.


Darren Rea

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