Beowulf

Alan Silvestri

 
" I Am Silvestri, and I'm here to make it sound just like that. "

Written by Thomas Glorieux - Review of the regular release

It seems director Robert Zemeckis has found his niche. After the Christmas cheering and above all wonderful The Polar Express (and coming up with the animated A Christmas Carol), the wiz kid of the Back to the Future saga turns up another one with Beowulf, the 3D animated reworking of the ancient English tale where the warrior Beowulf must kill the monster Grendel and test the seduction of its mother. The mere fact that the animation and visualization of The Polar Express is simply redefined here makes Beowulf at least visually speaking as stunning as Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. With the latest computer technology it was possible to scan all the actors faces and replace them with their animated alter ego's, creating the sense you're watching them on screen but in reality only seeing the animated version of themselves. They perfected this process in comparison to The Polar Express and it sure looks spectacular. Now while Tim Burton apparently needed a break from composer Danny Elfman, there is no stopping the Zemeckis / Silvestri wagon of trust and companionship. With Beowulf Alan Silvestri returns for the 12th time to a Zemeckis picture.

With a project as Beowulf you were sure to believe that fans were dying to hear a bombastic piece of work. However it wasn't entirely what you should've expected. Sure the action, violent attacks and brutal slaughters were gonna hold these epic tunes, but equally, if not more important, was the seduction and mental struggle Beowulf had to go through. So Beowulf becomes a bit of everything, saturated in the familiar Silvestri sound and style.

The "Beowulf Main Title", a brief but completely unexpected electronic opening surprises, soon fading into the marching main theme for Beowulf, layered in choral aggressiveness. Typical Silvestri trademarks show up in "First Grendel Attack" while the brief scary effects and low soothing darkish choir unveil the rather gloomy nature of the story.

Next to the score, two songs appear and both are sung by Robin Wright Penn. The first is a serenade and the second uses the noble theme as a cornerstone. However as most with Silvestri, these tunes appear too in the film as actual underscore and so they flow seamlessly together during the score.

The main theme returns in "What we Need is A Hero", followed with a trumpet solo performance in "I'm Here to Kill your Monster". Then we start to hear the expected action music. In "I Did Not Win the Race" the theme is used in snippets with from time to time, choral writing ala Van Helsing. It's not until a brief action tune pops up that we hear the great Silvestri back at work. Luckily this little action tune would be used much more later on. Such as in the end of "Second Grendel Attack" after a series of frenetic action tracks and theme use.

However there is more than just these themes, a noble one (heard too in the song tune) for Beowulf is heard nicely in "I Am Beowulf" and "He Was The Best of Us". With the growing use of the choir, this theme is a nice variation from the aggressive yet cool main theme. However as said, room needed to be held for the seduction as well and in "The Seduction" and "The Final Seduction" Silvestri's sinister writing is apparent. In the line of Death Becomes Her, carefully using strings, flutes and soft choir.

Yet in all these tunes and various genres, lies the big action piece, and surely this one beats all the rest in mere excitement, bombast and coolness. In "Beowulf Slays the Beast" the secondary action theme becomes now the only theme. Its choral strength really delivers on all levels. However people should be aware that this isn't the version that was used in the film. The pop version of "A Hero Comes Home" nicely sung by Idina Menzel is the last track of the score.

Altogether, I can honestly say that while the themes are nice and fit the story, they aren't the freshest of Silvestri's career. It all has a 'been there, done that'-attitude, like say other tunes we heard in Van Helsing and such. However in retrospect the score does have a nice balance between eeriness and action. While I could stand the total bombardment of Van Helsing, other people will be more at home here. Yet in the end Beowulf is definitely not a bad score. It has nice moments, good theme performances and a couple of big moments. It has however just a little too much the obvious Silvestri trademarks, resulting in a not so fresh approach, no matter how aggressive and cool Beowulf just listens all the same.

Tracklisting

1. Beowulf Main Title (0.56)
2. First Grendel Attack (1.53)
3. Gently as she Goes * (1.37)
4. What we Need is a Hero (1.42)
5. I'm Here to Kill Your Monster (1.49)
6. I Did Not Win the Race (2.18)
7. A Hero Comes Home * (1.09)
8. Second Grendel Attack (4.03) Excellent track
9. I Am Beowulf (4.34) Excellent track
10. The Seduction (4.04)
11. King Beowulf (1.46)
12. He Has a Story to Tell (2.42)
13. Full of Fine Promises (1.13)
14. Beowulf Slays the Beast (6.02) Excellent track
15. He Was the Best of Us (5.25)
16. The Final Seduction (2.26)
17. A Hero Comes Home: Idina Menzel (3.13)

* performed by Robin Wright Penn

Total Length: 46.52
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(total of 67 votes - average 3.78/5)

Released by

Warner Bros./WEA Records 372924 (regular release 2007)

Orchestrations by

John Ashton Thomas

Conducted by

Alan Silvestri