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Gladiator (Hall of Fame #100)

This is the first in a series I'll be posting as I listen and blog my way through Classic FM's Hall of Fame top 100.

My ambition to explore music that's over 30 years old will have to wait though, as number 100 is the soundtrack to Gladiator by Hans Zimmer, released in 2000. (The Hall of Fame is for popular classics, so I'm expecting to encounter lots of familiar pieces, including more film soundtracks. They refresh the Hall of Fame every year so I'm using the 2020 list, which actually counts down from 300, but I'm not starting all the way back there).

On my A-level Media Studies course we watched Gladiator, over the course of about two months. In an hour lesson we would get through maybe three minutes of the film. We dissected each scene, camera angle and dialogue, but we didn't pay much attention to the soundtrack. Still, it's firmly embedded in my memory.

Perhaps the most famous tracks from this score are the final pieces sung by Lisa Gerrard. She expresses so much without using any recognisable words - "I sing in the language of the Heart. It's an invented language that I've had for a very long time. I believe I started singing in it when I was about 12. Roughly that time. And I believed that I was speaking to God when I sang in that language."

In this concert Czarina Russell performs the part live. Along with her beautiful vocals, I love the tiny harp/zither that's featured.

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Benedict Johnson
Benedict Johnson
Oct 08, 2020

The Classic FM Hall of fame is much less dominated by film music than this first instalment might suggest, but I remember watching Gladiator long before I was even aware of the mighty Hans, who according to Wikipedia, also scored Driving Miss Daisy entirely using synthesizers and samplers. There's a score that didn't feature in Mr. Zimmer made-for-Netflix live concert! Gladiator laid down the template for all cinematic epics since, not least of all Ramin Djawadi's soundtrack to Game Of Thrones, and was parodied to great effect in Arrested Development. On my command, rain hell!

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