Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
The Last Samurai [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]
Genres: Pop, Soundtracks
Whether Tom Cruise's portrayal of a 19th century American soldier cum samurai warrior will be remembered with the same pangs of pop-cultural bemusement that befell John Wayne playing Genghis Khan remains to be seen. But it... more »
Whether Tom Cruise's portrayal of a 19th century American soldier cum samurai warrior will be remembered with the same pangs of pop-cultural bemusement that befell John Wayne playing Genghis Khan remains to be seen. But its musical soundtrack does mark an auspicious occasion: pop musician-turned-composer Hans Zimmer's 100th score since beginning his film career in 1988. A pioneer of fusing both the electronic and orchestral and the Westernized with the indigenous, Zimmer does both here with skill, drawing heavily on samples of the traditional Taiko (a massive Japanese drum) for its rhythmic action sequences, while constructing a melodic Western motif for Cruise's character that's both centerpiece and counterpoint for the score's transcultural intent. Aside from the brief, ominous thunder of the expected action/suspense boilerplate, Zimmer has constructed passages of gentle, Asian-inflected pastoralism that have parallels with much of his evocative work on The Thin Red Line. Those cues are the score's very soul, a canvas against which his more traditional themes reverberate all the stronger. --Jerry McCulley
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Member CD Reviews
Joanne S. (beadinglady) from TUNKHANNOCK, PA
Reviewed on 8/1/2012...
Moving, intense, and yet beautiful in the way a flower petal falls from the stem. Outstanding.
The Last Samurai VS. The Return of the King
Dr. Christopher Coleman | HONG KONG | 04/07/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Last year was the year of big budget epics for Hollywood. No expense was spared for lavish spectacle, elaborate costuming, awe-inspiring battle scenes, and more. And Hollywood knows that in spite of tremendous attention to visuals, it can all fall flat without the right soundtrack. George Lucas even admitted that Star Wars would have been nothing without John Williams' music. Hans Zimmer, in his score to The Last Samurai proves once again he's one of the best film composers working today. He complements the visual and dramatic aspects of the film superbly, as in the track Spectres in the Fog. Listen, and you can practically picture the action, even if you've never seen the film. After an introduction featuring Japanese plucked strings, the opening is haunting and mysterious, from which emerges a heroic theme played in the horns. I was interested to compare this soundtrack to that for another, contemporaneous "Big Spectacle" film-Lord of the Rings: the Return of the King, with music by Howard Shore. If you compare Spectres in the Fog to Shore's Minas Tirith, you'll hear that the gesture is identical--the emergence from a mysterious, static texture of a noble theme in the horns, accompanied by the drums of war. Both soundtracks owe much to the heritage of Richard Wagner and are practically textbooks in composing for film. Anyone interested in learning that art would do well to study them in detail. One significant difference between the two scores is the basic orchestration-naturally enough The Last Samurai includes Japanese instruments, and blends them beautifully with a Western orchestra. Since Middle Earth doesn't actually exist, Shore had no authentic instruments to draw from, and relies instead on a large Western orchestra, but occasionally has the instrumentalists perform in unusual ways, creating unique tone colors, as in Minas Morgul. But perhaps the biggest difference between the two soundtrack CDs, other than Shore's Oscar, is the overall tone. The Return of the King soundtrack is action-filled, exciting and even, for some, nerve-wracking. The Steward of Gondor is a telling example-while it's a beautiful ballad, Shore adds growing string clusters behind the voice to create a sense of impending doom. Zimmer's score is more consistently introspective. For the most part it concentrates on wistful melancholy and loss rather than the fury of battle-this is especially true of the soundtrack CD. A Small Measure of Peace epitomises this tone beautifully, while The Way of the Sword is its most dramatic contrast. Those who prefer their music peaceful and meditative will love The Last Samurai and perhaps be driven mad by Return of the King. Personally I prefer Shore's work somewhat, although still admiring Zimmer's greatly. Perhaps Howard Shore was the Oscar winner because he works with a much broader palate-more themes and a wider range of techniques including some very contemporary ones that would surely alienate many audience members if heard in concert with no visual context. By contrast, The Last Samurai relies too much on a single theme. It's lovely beyond question, and noble when played by horns, and courageous when played by trumpets, but after a point, many of the tracks on the CD start to seem indistinguishable. Nonetheless, why Zimmer didn't even get an Oscar nomination escapes me."
K. Yagi | Cupertino, CA USA | 10/08/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Just by listening to the music makes me emotional. The movie wouldn't have been the same without this music collection. It's been over half a year of owning this sound track, I'm still not bored of it."