When I reviewed the score to The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, I mentioned that I’ve never much cared for Harry Gregson-Williams’ music. It’s not that it’s bad; it’s just a bit boring, not offering anything that warrants high praise for the album as a whole…at least, that’s what I thought until I began listening to them critically. Now, I’m treated to little surprises every time I pick up one of Mr. Gregson-Williams’ scores – Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time provides plenty of those little surprises.
The opening track of the album is also the best; “The Prince of Persia” introduces the main theme for the film, beautiful and exotic, borrowing heavily from the culture of West Asia. It also introduces a theme for Dastan, the prince of Persia, that is referenced throughout the film in times of triumph or great physical displays from Dastan, such as at the end of “Raid on Alamut” when Dastan takes to the streets of the city and kicks some serious tail. In fact, it is the repeat of these themes throughout the film that adds to its effectiveness as a successful action/adventure film score.
For an action film, Prince of Persia has a lot of very pretty, potent tracks that mainly serve as background to dialogue, such as “The King and His Sons” and “No Ordinary Dagger”. “Destiny” also features some of these rich themes, finishing off the film with a sense of grandeur and – forgive me for this – destiny.
I don’t know why I initially dismissed this score as boring and typical, but I was wrong; with Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Harry Gregson-Williams has created a score that magnificently emulates the culture of this part of the world, supporting the film in a great way. While it may not be as great as The Chronicles of Narnia or film scores from other composers, Prince of Persia is sure to entertain just about any listener.
Rating: 4 (out of 5)
1. “The Prince of Persia” 5:20
2. “Raid On Alamut” 6:32
3. “Tamina Unveiled” 2:34
4. “The King and His Sons” 2:59
5. “Dastan and Tamina Escape” 4:31
6. “Journey Through the Desert” 2:55
7. “Ostrich Race” 0:59
8. “Running from Sheikh Amar” 3:27
9. “Trusting Nizam” 4:37
10. “Visions of Death” 1:46
11. “So, You’re Going To Help Me?” 2:20
12. “The Oasis Ambush” 1:54
13. “Hassansin Attack” 2:59
14. “Return To Alamut” 3:05
15. “No Ordinary Dagger” 4:39
16. “The Passages” 3:09
17. “The Sands of Time” 3:58
18. “Destiny” 3:38
19. “I Remain” (performed by Alanis Morissette, written by Alanis Morissette and Mike Elizondo) 4:57
Total Length: app. 67 min.
iTunes Album Link
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I’ll be completely honest with you all…I’m not a huge fan of Harry Gregson-Williams. His film scores just generally seem pretty lackluster to me. That being said, I’ve owned this score for a long time and never paid much attention to it, expecting myself to dislike it. But guess what? I really enjoyed it!
The first two tracks aren’t anything special, though “Evacuating London” has a wonderfully mellow piano solo, a nice groove with orchestral accompaniment, and a few cool small hints to the upcoming main theme (listen to “To Aslan’s Camp”). Gregson-Williams’ score really starts to get interesting around the third track, “The Wardrobe”, which first introduces us to Narnia. Everything is completely different now: this new world is represented with a score that is truly other-worldly, and I don’t mean in an extra-terrestrial way. The primary instruments switch from strings to flute-like and stringed instruments with unique timbres that really help you to envision the strangeness and wonder of this new place.
One of the things that HGW does really well in this score is integrate choral elements, especially in “A Narnia Lullaby”, “From Western Woods to Beaversdam”, and “Only the Beginning of the Adventure”. The voices fit in really well this idea of harmony between the creatures (discounting the White Witch and her gang, of course) and with a unity between the children and the other members of Aslan’s forces.
I do have a few issues with this score. Though “The White Witch” is malicious enough, I think that HGW could have better embodied the cold nature of the witch. For example, the usage of eerie high strings and using the dissonance in a different way could have really made it better, in my opinion. Also, several of the themes, though awesome alone, were WAY overused, like the melody heard in “Lucy Meets Mr. Tumnus”. This line of music is incredibly beautiful, but it’s repeated forever and ever (amen) throughout the entirety of the track’s four minutes, and this isn’t the only melody that repeats like this; the main theme heard in “To Aslan’s Camp” is used over and over again throughout the entire score, albeit sometimes with different instrumentation or in a different mode or rhythm.
And I have to point it out: while listening, I heard what I swear was the main theme from Gregson-Williams’ later score, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, but I can’t for the life of me find it at the moment…you’ll just have to take my word for it.
Despite its faults, Harry Gregson-Williams’ to this first installment in the Chronicles of Narnia film series is pretty excellent…a pleasant surprise to me, since I wanted so badly to dislike it. Instead, tracks like the mysterious “The Wardrobe”, “To Aslan’s Camp”, and “The Battle” left me wishing that the soundtrack wasn’t so short. The short length doesn’t take away from the fantasy presented in this score, though, so check it out!
Rating: 4 (out of 5)
- “The Blitz, 1940” – 2:32
- “Evacuating London” – 3:38
- “The Wardrobe” – 2:54
- “Lucy Meets Mr. Tumnus” – 4:10
- “A Narnia Lullaby” – 1:12
- “The White Witch” – 5:30
- “From Western Woods to Beaversdam” – 3:34
- “Father Christmas” – 3:20
- “To Aslan’s Camp” – 3:12
- “Knighting Peter” – 3:48
- “The Stone Table” – 8:06
- “The Battle” – 7:08
- “Only the Beginning of the Adventure” – 5:32
- “Can’t Take It In” (Imogen Heap) – 4:42
- “Wunderkind” (Alanis Morissette) – 5:19
- “Winter Light” (Tim Finn) – 4:13
- “Where” (Lisbeth Scott) – 1:54
Total Length – app. 71 min.
iTunes Album Link
1 Comment | tags: accompaniment, Aslan, chad hopkins, chadadada, chadlikesmovies, choir, choral, Chronicles of Narnia, composer, Harry Gregson-Williams, HGW, Liam Neeson, orchestra, Prince of Persia, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Sands of Time, soundtrack, Soundtrack of the Day, soundtrackoftheday, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Sands of Time, The White Witch | posted in 4, Entertainment, Film, Movies, Music, Scores, Soundtrack Reviews