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Section Header
2000 Gladiator

2001 More Music from Gladiator

2005 Anniversary
2-CD Set

Composed and Arranged by:
Hans Zimmer
Lisa Gerrard

Produced by:
Hans Zimmer
Klaus Badelt
Alan Meyerson

Additional Music by:
Klaus Badelt
Jeff Rona
Djivan Gasparian

Orchestrated by:
Bruce Fowler
Yvonne Moriarty
Walt Fowler
Ladd McIntosh
Elizabeth Finch
Jack Smalley

Vocals by:
Lisa Gerrard

Conducted by:
Gavin Greenaway

Performed by:
The Lyndhurst Orchestra of London

Instrumental Solos and Synthesizers Performed by:
Heitor Pereira
Djivan Gasparian
Jeff Rona
Hans Zimmer
Klaus Badelt

Labels and Dates:
Decca Records (Gladiator)
(April 25th, 2000)

Decca Records (More Music)
(February 27th, 2001)

Decca Records (Anniversary Set)
(September 5th, 2005)

Also See:
Pirates of the Caribbean
Crimson Tide
The Thin Red Line
The Peacemaker
Mission: Impossible 2
Batman Begins

Audio Clips:

3. The Battle (0:30):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

9. The Might of Rome (0:33):
WMA (215K)  MP3 (269K)
Real Audio (189K)

13. Barbarian Horde (0:29):
WMA (193K)  MP3 (239K)
Real Audio (168K)

17. Now We Are Free (0:29):
WMA (191K)  MP3 (239K)
Real Audio (168K)

More Music from Gladiator:

4. Homecoming (0:30):
WMA (191K)  MP3 (236K)
Real Audio (147K)

9. Rome is the Light (0:28):
WMA (186K)  MP3 (228K)
Real Audio (142K)

Both of the original albums are regular U.S. releases. The 2005 'Special Anniversary Edition' 2-CD set contains the combined contents of the first two albums and was released primarily in the United Kingdom as a regular commercial product.

  Winner of a Golden Globe and nominated for an Academy Award, a Grammy Award, and a BAFTA Award.


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Buy it... if you seek fifteen to twenty minutes of beautifully ethereal music performed by Lisa Gerrard for the film's scenes involving the afterlife.

Avoid it... if you find Hans Zimmer's battle and fanfare music to be too electronically grating on the nerves or too obviously plagiarized to enjoy in any context.

Gladiator: (Hans Zimmer and Co.) Ridley Scott has often been credited with reviving the genre of historical epic films with his 2000 smash hit Gladiator, a film based very loosely on the Roman emperor Commodus, the deranged son of Marcus Aurelius. His sister, Lucilla, who likely suffered the same incestuous relationship that Commodus inflicted upon his other sisters, was indeed implicated in an senate-led assassination plot against her brother, after which Commodus exiled and eventually executed her. Commodus also was the one Roman emperor to actually enter the arena and fight as a gladiator, though his death came at the hands of a wrestler and not in the famed Flavian Amphitheatre at the heart of Rome. In Gladiator, a handful of screenwriters rewrote history and each other, with even actor Russell Crowe reportedly storming off the set when his script suggestions were not granted. In any case, Crowe's character of Maximus Decimus Meridius was a fictional combination of Spartacus, Cincinnatus, and the actual killer of Commodus, Narcissus. For the purpose of a plot centering on vengeance and redemption, the former great general Maximus of the Roman army escapes his own execution and avenges that of his family by working his way up through the ranks of enslaved gladiators, eventually returning to Rome to play an integral role in Commodus' demise. One of the film's unique qualities, and one that places it, strangely enough, with the classic Patton, is the theme of resurrection and the afterlife that was added to the third generation of the film's script. While noted for its brutal battle scenes and glorious CGI renderings (not only adding 35,000 extras to the scenes in the Colosseum, but also bringing actor Oliver Reed back to life to finish a handful of his scenes after he suffered a heart attack and died during filming), Gladiator gained popularity due to its unexpectedly optimistic outlook.

Despite some scathing criticism from some leading critics, who mostly found the film's characters to be flat, Gladiator earned more than it cost to produce in just two weeks, eventually earning nearly half a billion dollars in international revenue. It won five Academy Awards out of its twelve nominations, and was nominated for 119 awards between the Oscars, BAFTA's, Golden Globes, and other groups. Among the more controversial nominations was the Academy's "Best Original Music Score" nomination for composer Hans Zimmer's music for Gladiator. Despite sharing considerable credit with Lisa Gerrard and Klaus Badelt for the writing of Gladiator, only Zimmer was nominated for the Oscar. After Zimmer and Gerrard had shared the win for the Golden Globe that year, Zimmer not only lost the Oscar to Tan Dun (for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), but the situation contributed to the Academy's decision to restrict the nomination of scores by multiple composers for several years. The original soundtrack album was a massive success for Universal and Decca, going platinum in sales and prompting multiple album releases in the future. The score would continue to generate publicity for Zimmer through the years, especially in regards to a 2006 lawsuit alleging copyright infringement in Zimmer's "inspirations" behind the more robust portions of the score. Nevertheless, the Gladiator score, as controversial as it might be, ranks among Star Wars and Titanic as one of the most important in the modern age of soundtracks, bringing recognition to the genre of music from the masses. Within the community of devoted film score collectors, Gladiator has always played a polarizing role, inevitably dividing listeners along familiar lines of perennial Zimmer supporters and those who believe that his works are underachieving and derivative.

In the weeks before the film became a massive success, most professional film score reviewers rated Zimmer's Gladiator music between average and good, with few offering the highest praises to the work. The overwhelming success of the score within the film (for most viewers), however, is what gave true life to the music, and Gladiator has since become recognized as being, at the very least, in tune with Ridley Scott's vision of the film. Additionally, a fair amount of fans have adopted Gladiator as a "guilty pleasure," much in the same way that Zimmer and Badelt's Pirates of the Caribbean would accomplish three years later (though Zimmer was contractually forced to remain uncredited for his involvement in the composition of that score). On the whole, Gladiator remains as fascinating as ever to study in retrospect, partially because of the score's clear definition of Zimmer's stylistic maturation and partially because of the lawsuit that has erupted because of Zimmer's process of gaining inspiration. The original 2000 album of Gladiator provided all the score's major cues on a one-hour product and mostly in their film order. The 2001 companion album, also from Decca and Universal, throws in a variety of outtakes and cues in lesser demand. The same label would eventually sell both together on a 2005 "Special Anniversary Edition" in Europe only (with no new content). For the purpose of this review at Filmtracks, the first album will be used to analyze the score itself since all of the major motifs by all the composers are represented on that product. While compositional credit is spread around between the several composers, Zimmer takes credit for most of them. Of the major themes and motifs in Gladiator, only Lisa Gerrard's "Elysium" theme marks a significant thematic contribution to the two major and several minor themes employed by Zimmer throughout the score, with many of Gerrard's passages shared in credit with Klaus Badelt as well.

The score for Gladiator is clearly divided between the world of Rome and that of the afterlife, and the film opens and closes with the spirit of the latter. Zimmer's opening cue introduces the ambience of the era with a nebulous motif often referred to as a "calling of the wild" theme that would appear as a bridge between the score's two primary identities. In "Progeny," Zimmer splits the performances between three of his noted soloists: Djivan Gasparyan on duduk, Jeff Rona on flute, and Tony Pleeth on cello. Lisa Gerrard's "Elysium" theme, later to be combined with Zimmer's own "Earth" theme to form the famous "Now We Are Free" ascension cue, is heard during Ridley Scott's shots of wheat blowing in the wind, and thus is provided in a short cue on its own. This cue is mixed directly into the start of "The Battle," one of the score's surprisingly few action pieces. Zimmer has claimed that this piece, along with its subsequent variant for the gladiator battles in Rome, is based heavily on a classical Viennese waltz and was the first part of the score written. The opening thirty seconds of "The Battle" offers what would have seemed to be the primary theme of both Maximus' life and the film, if not for the sorrows that would befall the character. The rousing French horn theme is standard in structure for Zimmer's career, its rising structures over propulsive electronic percussion serving the role of "hero's anthem" as well as any he has written before or after. Instrumentation in this theme mirrors Crimson Tide, even down to the trumpet solos over the top of the theme near the end of the first statement. From there, "The Battle" becomes understandably muddied. A fluttering of Heitor Pereira's guitar work foreshadows the Spanish influence to come later in the score, though its usage seems misplaced here. Deep male choir is mixed under echoing synthetic pounding effects once again from Crimson Tide.

The guitar returns in "The Battle" to open the 3/4 waltz rhythm that would dominate the cue, eventually led by wildly demanding staccato blasts from strings and brass. Shades of Gustav Holst become evident in several passages within this cue, masked only by Zimmer's attempt to heighten the battle's frantic pitch through dissonant, electronically manipulated brass accents atop the churning movements. The cue can be broken into several related pieces, one of which providing significant inspiration to Zimmer and Badelt for Pirates of the Caribbean. At 5:52 into the cue, Zimmer's faux-swashbuckling style seems distinctly out of place in Gladiator, and this small segment would return once in full later in the score. Previous segments in the cue return for short restatements, including the Wagnerian movements, until Gerrard's voice provides the first fragments of Zimmer's gorgeous "Earth" theme in the final moments of the cue. Zimmer obviously viewed this theme as being representative of death, and its use at the end of this atrociously bloody sequence is outstanding. The theme would receive further attention, not surprisingly, in the following "Earth" cue. After providing an additional "mourning" motif to represent the loneliness of the scene (with elegant trumpet), Zimmer yields his first full statement of the "Earth" theme on cello and flute. For "Sorrow," Gerrard's "Elysium" theme is expanded upon by Badelt for a powerful vocal performance by Gerrard that serves among the highlights of the score. Zimmer's desire to work with famed duduk performer Djivan Gasparyan led to a handful of cues in Gladiator, none more moving than "To Zucchabar." As the film's location heads south, Zimmer uses the duduk to merge fragments of the "Earth" theme and two of the previous smaller motifs into a exotic new theme owing some, surely, to Gasparyan's own improvisations.

For "Patricide," Zimmer moves away from the synthesizers and electronic manipulation of orchestral elements for a dramatic string piece based on parts of the "calling" theme, though it is disguised by significant dissonance. While this cue offers some of Zimmer's most intelligently layered melodrama in Gladiator, it fails to really engage the listener. The introduction of the Commodus theme marks the latter half of the cue with choppy, over-demanding string statements. In the subsequent "The Emperor is Dead," Gerrard and Badelt employ an instrument called the Yan Ching that Zimmer discovered and offered to Gerrard. It sounds like a zither, and in this cue if performs her "Elysium" theme with class. Arguably the centerpiece of the score follows, with "The Might of Rome" proving to be the most memorable cue from the entire score. Two minutes of a slow percussive crescendo lead to an exotic beat and choral chant aided by Gerrard until the three minute mark, which is when Zimmer causes a significant amount of head scratching. Zimmer has stated that he had the music of Richard Wagner (and, more specifically, the Ring portions relating to Siegfried's Journey to the Rhine and Siegfried's Funeral March from Gotterdamerung) so clearly in mind when he wrote the latter half of this cue that the music took only an hour to write. While the beauty of the cue in the film, with the special effects by The Mill gloriously bringing the ancient city back to life, is not questioned, the blatant use of Wagner can't be overlooked. So awkward is the incorporation of Siegfried's Funeral March alone that not even the remarkable choral outburst near the end of the cue (which ironically, when combined with Zimmer's synths in the cue, sounds surprisingly similar to what Vangelis would provide for Alexander several years later) can help match what you hear in these two minutes with the rest of the score. If the usage had not stood out so blatantly, perhaps the cue's momentous impact would not have been tarnished.

For "Strength and Honor," Zimmer uses bass region elements to explore a minor key variant on his Commodus ideas in "Patricide;" the cue is similar in mix and style to The Thin Red Line. As the cue segues into "Reunion," Zimmer handles the sorrowful circumstances of love that can never be realized in the story by allowing Gerrard and Badelt to provide a simple vocal rendition of Gerrard's "Elysium" theme, as pretty in its Eastern flavor as always. The rhythm and heightened vocals at the end of this cue lead to the momentous "Slaves to Rome" cue, a piece that once again treats the spectacular visuals of Rome but without the obvious influences of before. Without that touch of Wagner, though, the cue fails to muster the same level of dramatic anticipation. As the climax of the film draws near, Zimmer once again skirts with plagiarism problems in the lengthy "Barbarian Horde," the second of the two major battle pieces in Gladiator. He opens with a restatement of the "calling" theme from "Progeny" on flute, which seems to be Zimmer's choice of motif for impending death (or another representation for Commodus' influence, perhaps). Over the course of several minutes, Zimmer proceeds to resurrect Holst once again, leaving no doubt of his affinity for "Mars, the Bringer of War" from "The Planets." The usage becomes so obnoxious in this cue that it is difficult to understand how Zimmer can claim that his use of Holst, while he recognizes the inspiration now, was largely "an accident" (his words; he claims that he "was more conscious of striving after Stravinsky's sort of brutality"). After the lengthy repetition of Holsts' distinctive structures, Zimmer returns to the several different sections of "The Battle" for restatement. The awkward shift to the faux-swashbuckling music foreshadowing Pirates of the Caribbean returns at about 5:30 in "Barbarian Horde," followed immediately once again by the same somewhat irritating low range chord shifts (with blasting electronic pulses over the top) also from "The Battle."

At 6:35 into "Barbarian Horde," however, Zimmer allows a short guilty pleasure; he hands the "Earth" theme over to the full ensemble for one brief performance that would provide to be the only large, orchestral identity for the theme in the score. While it sounds great, its placement in this cue really doesn't make sense given that the positioning and muscle of theme at that moment runs counter to the theme's purpose. Following, however, is a delightful highlight of the score. Menacing bass string meanderings for Commodus' motif lead to a fully symphonic and choral performance of the Maximus theme heard only before at the outset of "The Battle" and briefly in the Moroccan fights. It's the moment of grand revelation in the film, and the return of General Maximus is handled with all the pomp that Zimmer can provide the theme. While this theme would not return again in full form, its handling is extremely satisfying. Zimmer has stated that "Am I Not Merciful?" is his favorite cue from Gladiator, because of the emotional impact involved with the betrayal of Commodus by his sister, Lucilla. Pieces of the "calling" theme and the calculation of "Patricide" accompany Commodus' devastation, led by Jeff Rona's flute. Zimmer once again bursts into Wagner territory with an obvious reference to Siegfried's Funeral March, with deeper, more resonate tones and chime banging that will make you wonder just how much of Crimson Tide and The Peacemaker owe to Wagner as well. The final three cues on album are obviously the highlight of the score both in and apart from the film. In "Elysium," Gerrard lends her vocals to the first full combination of her so titled theme and Zimmer's "Earth" theme, a process that reportedly took quite a while to exact. The pleasant, streaming representation of death and the afterlife in these moments lends a very new age effect to the Gladiator, and, in conjunction with the following cues, made the album the best-seller it was.

In "Honor Him," a choral and light orchestral presence is added to Zimmer's "Earth" theme before moving directly into the famed ascension cue, "Now We Are Free," that closes the film. The electronically and percussion-aided cue features well-layered Gerrard vocals, utilizing the best aspects of her voice in a performance of lyrics that are, despite fans' hopes otherwise, meaningless. One of the greatest misconceptions about "Now We Are Free" is that the lyrics are formed from Hebrew or Latin or some other ancient language when, in fact, they are simply fictional words. It's gibberish, so just enjoy the music and don't go looking for sensical lyrics. The "Elysium" and "Earth" themes are joined quite deceptively by major key variants on the motifs from "Patricide" in "Now We Are Free," a cue which credits all three major composers on the project. This cue would go on to propel the album to its platinum status and lead to techno and dance-beat variants that would climb the charts in European countries over the following year. The album is, as usual for a Zimmer product, mixed so that several of the major cues run together, regardless of whether they do so in the film. In fact, the final thirty minutes of the first Gladiator album are a continuous presentation. The second album, released a year later by Decca/Universal, adds dialogue from the film into the mix, and despite worries by film score fans that this intrusion would ruin the album, it sold quite well on its merits. On "More Music from Gladiator," many of the notable cues missing from the first album are provided to listeners, as well as outtakes and experimentations that never made the final cut. At the outset of the album, Djivan Gasparyan's duduk performances offer some of Zimmer's earlier compositions for Gladiator, echoing some of the "calling" theme but giving the idea far more life than the film and first album would have indicated. The cue ends with a full blown "Spanish" theme that was eventually dropped from the film; minus Pereira's guitar, the theme foreshadows the Kraken theme from the second Pirates of the Caribbean score.

The "Now We Are Free" version that appears on the second track on this album was among the many attempts by Klaus Badelt to merge Gerrard's "Elysium" and Zimmer's "Earth" theme into the famous new age piece. Given that Badelt did so much work on this highlight track, it's surprising that he didn't receive more screen credit for his overall effort on Gladiator. This "Juba's Mix" would prove to be too upbeat for the film, and features a heavier African influence in background vocals that eventually dominate the track. The cue "The Protector of Rome" actually features an alternative take on a conversation between Maximus and Juba about family, though the album overwrites dialogue between Russell Crowe and Richard Harris for listenability. The "Homecoming" score cue (which did appear in the film) was a very last minute composition by Zimmer and even the composer would admit that its aimless urgency doesn't particularly relate to any other part of the score. It is, really, a throw-away track with the exception of the dialogue that occupies the cue's latter half. An alternate desert journey track is provided for "The General Who Became a Slave," with similarities in tone to "Strength and Honor" on the first CD until segueing into a more recognizable variant of "To Zucchabar" (without the enhanced role for the duduk). In "The Slave Who Became a Gladiator," Zimmer's early training and fighting music in the desert is synched with a Crowe and Oliver Reed conversation from a bit later in the story. The cue ends with pieces of "The Might of Rome" from the first album due to the correct sequencing of music in the film. In his comments about "Secrets," Zimmer reveals that his "calling" theme is indeed a representation of Commodus, which is acceptable to a degree but doesn't explain some of its usage earlier in the film.

A highlight of the second album is "Rome is the Light," an improvisation that Gerrard and Zimmer used as a template for the combination of their "Now We Are Free" efforts and for which Badelt pumped in some percussion. The standalone theme presented in this cue is not only one of the more compelling compositions for the film, but also one of the more satisfyingly original ideas. Gerrard's vocals are exquisite in this cue, and it's a shame that parts of this material weren't used in lieu of some of the Wagner inspirations for the CGI-laden scenes. The following two tracks are disappointingly mundane. After some minimal duduk experimentations with Gasparyan in "All That Remains," a slight performance of the "Earth" theme on guitar by Pereira barely stirs any interest. Source music featuring Rona's flute over percussion in "Marrakesh Marketplace" represents the North African scenery and is an unnecessary inclusion. In "The Gladiator Waltz," we hear the totally synthetic demo version of "The Battle" that Zimmer and Scott used to set the tempo of the pivotal early scene. Once again, shades of Holst in this piece overshadow the waltz structures, as well as the sequence of fragmented ideas that together as a suite form the battle music. Hearing this piece in its synthetic form is interesting in that the demo doesn't sound too much different from the final orchestral and synthetic rendering together, a disturbing revelation that begs for comments that will come later in this review. Maximus' dialogue at the outset of this cue is its highlight; to hear the plagiarism in this cue with only Zimmer's synths as substance is nearly unbearable, though. Gerrard's solo performance of the "Earth" theme on the zither-like Yan Ching instrument in "Figurines" is another throw-away track. A Morocco fight sequence cue that made the film is "The Mob," and while early chanting portions are little more than an annoyance, a brief statement of the infrequently used Maximus theme in the low regions (with Yan Ching for accent) is of interest near the end.

The track "Busy Little Bee" was written by Gerrard and Badelt in secrecy and was used in the film for the creepy conversational scene for Emperor and sister. It's a largely non-descript string cue with only faintly mixed Gerrard vocals of fragments of the "Earth" theme. In "Death Smiles at Us All," the last major conversational piece of the film receives striking treatment by Badelt; taking ideas from "Patricide" and adapting Commodus' theme by Zimmer's direction, Badelt's cue uses its percussion and bass strings with a masterfully suspenseful result, and the cue would have been great to enjoy without the Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix dialogue (albeit appropriate). The "Not Yet" cue was one of the many recorded attempts by Gerrard to grasp Zimmer's "Earth" theme for the final cue. This particular performance was "magical" enough, as Zimmer says, to have harmony added to it later and press it to this album. The dialogue by Djimon Hounsou is as appropriate as the implication in the cue title applies to Gerrard's attempt, though the cue once again would be good to hear without that dialogue. The last track on the second album is a "Maximus Mix" of "Now We Are Free" that worked towards the disco fame of the song; Zimmer apparently had nothing to do with this remix, thank goodness. There is no less an irritating way the album could be concluded. Despite some reports to the contrary, the two commercial Gladiator albums do not contain anywhere near all the music recorded for the film. Common sense, of course, told collectors that Zimmer's endless number of alternate takes, along with unused material by Gerrard and Badelt, meant that there was more music available to hardcore bootleg collectors. Indeed, within five to six years after these albums' release, 3-CD bootlegs of a more complete nature have surfaced on the secondary market. Casual listeners should be aware, though, that the mass of important material from Gladiator is still available on the first commercial album.

So, in the end, how good is the Gladiator score? Zimmer's career and sales numbers have proven through the years that his most popular scores aren't necessarily his best, and Gladiator is no exception. There really exist four sides to the Gladiator score: the ethereal atmospherics, the battle waltzes, the suspenseful conversational cues, and the Moroccan (and other ethnic) textures. The last two are adequate, merely average in Zimmer's career, with "To Zucchabar" offering some decent usage of the duduk and "Patricide" elevating the drama. Ultimately, though, these cues are significantly overshadowed by the other two sides to the score. There is no doubt that Zimmer's greatest success with Gladiator comes with the individual statements and eventual merging of the "Elysium" and "Earth" themes. His employment of Gerrard's voice to represent the afterlife is nothing less than fantastic, pouring a depth of soul into the film that Ridley Scott's original vision didn't contain. From the mournful "Sorrow" to the beautifully redemptive "Elysium" and "Honor Him," these thematic explorations make Gladiator a worthy score by themselves. The final eight minutes of the score, encompassing a cue in "Now We Are Free" that successfully balances the gravity of the event with the spirit of heaven, are among the best ever to come from Zimmer's career. When you take all of these Gerrard performances and merge them with the unused "Rome is the Light" cue from the second album, you have about fifteen minutes of must-have music. Unfortunately, Gladiator's final side is so obnoxious that it washes out the ethereal elements in the overall memorability and functionality of the score. Zimmer's waltz structures and blatant plagiarism in the battle sequences and "The Might of Rome" are extremely dissatisfying. Their use in the film is marginal at best, distracting from scenes that could have very well benefited from more thoughtful music for the era.

And thus, the conversation about Zimmer once again turns to his work ethics. Why exactly were the large-scale cues in Gladiator so irritating? You'll get several different answers, including a few that will simply state that Zimmer really didn't do anything wrong. The apologists for the composer, however (and Zimmer certainly suffers from a most ardent group of what film music collectors identify as "fanboys"), need to recognize that Zimmer brings most criticism along the following lines upon himself due to his insistence in forcing a film to adapt to his sensibilities rather than adapt himself to reach greater heights. This argument has been raised several times more recently than Gladiator, but several circumstances point to this score as a good starting point to discuss these issues. The first reason the major action pieces in Gladiator don't work is because of Zimmer's style of electronic manipulation. The great irony in many of Zimmer's works is that his orchestral material sounds frighteningly similar to his synthetic counterparts, and the reason for this is because when Zimmer does indeed go to London and record with a decent ensemble (as was the case with Gladiator), he usually then takes that recording and merges it with his synthetics or, even worse, manipulates the orchestra's sound to give it the more masculine edge that his synthesizers produce by default. You reach a certain point when you can't tell if a burst from the French horns is actually being rendered by the horns or by the samples meant to imitate them, and such is the pitfall of Zimmer's persistent acoustic mangling of the orchestra in the post-production of many of his scores. In efforts like Crimson Tide and The Peacemaker, the resulting brazen sound, sharp around all the edges, suits the contemporary matter well. But in Gladiator (as well as in the Pirates of the Caribbean scores), the audacious, jabbing style lacks the elegance to smoothly convey the era. Even in the structures of the "Earth" theme, there are lazy similarities to Zimmer's early score for Backdraft.

Zimmer argues, of course, that nobody really knows what Roman music sounds like, and he is correct. But he uses that argument as an excuse for his lack of effort in scholarly research, and this is the second failing of Gladiator's action pieces. Several times in his career, Zimmer has decided not to examine previous film composers' works to evaluate how and why they worked so well in a given context. As he said in a Dreamworks interview from 2000, "I did not want to compete with other great composers. Plus, I am a big procrastinator and never do my research." Whether it's Danny Elfman's brilliant identity for Batman, the classic Erich Wolfgang Korngold flair for the swashbuckling precursors to Pirates of the Caribbean, or the massive Golden Age works of Miklós Rózsa or Alex North for Roman epics, Zimmer insists on re-inventing the wheel. There's nothing wrong with trying to re-inventing the wheel... unless, of course, you can't do it. Or do it well enough, as is the case with Gladiator. Zimmer's Viennese waltz for the battle sequences, in conjunction with his awkward instrumental masculinity in the synthetic realm, simply does not function to any degree in Gladiator the way Rózsa's music did in Quo Vadis, Ben-Hur, or El Cid. He, along with Bernard Herrmann, would probably be horrified by Zimmer's Roman music (not to mention its popularity). Rózsa did extensive research for those scores, and that's the reason he is commonly considered the best of the Golden Age composers. Zimmer instead will often write based on what his gut tells him is right, and unfortunately his gut doesn't always make the right choice. You can't definitively say that a Rózsa score would have functioned as a good temp track in Gladiator. It likely would not have worked at all with Scott's modern style of direction. But there must exist a happy medium between the success of the past and contemporary expectations in which a classic score can reside. Zimmer had a chance to do that with Gladiator, and on the ethereal aspects, he flourished. The battle sequences, however, especially with his four or five motifs successively pounding without any much thought for refinement, are extremely untempered.

And then there's the third and most disturbing reason for the failure of Zimmer's large-scale cues in Gladiator: plagiarism. At the time of its release, educated cross-over collectors of soundtracks and classical music easily identified several sources of "inspiration" for Zimmer in these cues. Zimmer has admitted that the adaptation of Wagner's music (and specifically Siegfried's Funeral March) played an integral role in a few places, though he initially claimed that his use of Holst's "Mars" in the battle scenes was accidental. Either way, the music speaks for itself, and Zimmer would eventually admit in interviews and notation that these influences are, among others, all present. In a May, 2000 interview with Ian Lace of Film Music on the Web, Zimmer referred to "The Might of Rome" by stating, "Yes, the Wagner was a very conscious choice. I managed to assume the style of Wagner so easily that I was able to write that piece in an hour." Half a year later, Zimmer would acknowledge the influence of Holst in his own liner notes for the second Gladiator album. He writes that he used "the same language, the same vocabulary, if not the same syntax" as Holst. He has made similar statements in other interviews as well, likely due to his pride in knowledge of classical music while never himself being classically trained. From his point of view, there probably is no harm in admitting such inspirations. After all, John Williams employed pieces of ideas from Wagner, Holst and Stravinsky in his first Star Wars score, and few people blinked. Another argument could extend from here, involving the merits of Williams' ability to adapt classical pieces with skill far exceeding that of Zimmer (and you could probably throw James Horner into the discussion as well), but there are very few knowledgeable film score fans who will claim Zimmer's talents superior to Williams' at any time in the past few decades. Part of Zimmer's problem stems from his inability to adapt these pieces intelligently, as opposed to leaning too heavily on their actual, more obvious constructs.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Zimmer seemingly forgot --in the process of rambling off his inspirations-- that the London-based Gustav Holst Foundation still owns the copyrights to the 1915 Holst work in question. With many classical works, copyright infringement is absent because the music now falls in the realm of the public domain. But in April of 2006, Hans Zimmer was personally sued by G&I Holst Ltd. and music publishers J. Curwen & Sons and G. Schirmer Ltd. in a complaint regarding infringement of the opening to "Mars" in Gladiator. Also sued were the various Universal entities that either own the music or are involved in its distribution on album. A spokesperson for the publishers indicated that they attempted to resolve the issue directly and privately, possibly explaining the reason for the six-year delay in the filing of the suit. In their statement from June of 2006, they claim, "After a considerable period of discussion between the two parties it has become necessary to ask for the assistance of the courts." A defense lawyer for Zimmer responded by asserting that "Mr. Zimmer's work on Gladiator is world-renowned and is not in any sense a copy of Mars. Just listening to the two works is enough to tell any listener this claim has no merit." Supporters of Zimmer have also claimed that one of the few reasons the suit was filed so long after the score's release is due to the album's platinum status. Because sales of Gladiator remain strong so many years after its initial offering, the Holst Foundation stands to make millions of dollars off the suit. While as of late 2007 the suit still is not resolved, it's difficult to see how Zimmer could be considered favored in the battle. Despite what his attorney states, there are distinct similarities to Holst's "Mars," and those similarities come at the pivotal moments in the film. It appears as though Zimmer's own flapping mouth could be his demise, but even in the worst case scenario, don't expect him to have to file for bankruptcy even if he loses.

And so the discussion continues. Gladiator is one of the most important scores of the 2000's, if only because it exposed the relatively small world of film music once again, like Titanic before it, to the masses. Zimmer to this day feels robbed by his Academy Award loss to Tan Dun that year, and another interesting side note to Gladiator is the fact that Zimmer, after receiving his Oscar win for The Lion King and several nominations throughout the late 1990's, has not been nominated for another Oscar in the subsequent six years since (while John Williams, for comparison sake, has received another six nominations during that time, even with two years absent of any activity). A messy legal battle over the profits of Zimmer's Media Ventures enterprise, leading him to spin it off under a new name, also dragged on in the years following Gladiator. With the 2006 suit by Holst Foundation, Zimmer continues to be a lightning rod in the industry, and usually not for the better. The quality of his scores was not immediately diminished, with the years of 2003 and 2004 offering several high quality entries both within and above the classification of "guilty pleasure." But outside of a questionably reasonable score for The Da Vinci Code in 2006, Zimmer's output from 2005 through 2007 has been both weak in assignments and weak in production, including his uninspired results for the lower quality Pirates of the Caribbean sequels. Whether you consider yourself a fan of Zimmer's work or not, his career since Gladiator has not maintained the level of promise and respect that any film score collector would have hoped for. As for the Gladiator score itself, your enjoyment of its contents will depend on whether or not you can forgive Zimmer's plagiarism and tired, rehashed electronic manipulation and enjoy the softer, ethereal portions of the score. Lisa Gerrard's voice is the easy selling point, as it would once again be in a brief contribution to Zimmer's Mission: Impossible 2 later in the same summer. All of this said, though, there are fifteen to twenty minutes of Gladiator music that are not to be missed by any film score collector, regardless of Hans Zimmer's unscholarly tendencies. Price Hunt: CD or Download

    Music as Written for Film: ***
    2000 Album: ***
    2001 'More Music' Album: ***
    2005 Anniversary Album: ***
    Overall: ***

Bias Check:For Hans Zimmer reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 2.98 (in 89 reviews)
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 Track Listings (Original Album): Total Time: 61:38

• 1. Progeny (2:13)
• 2. The Wheat* (1:03)
• 3. The Battle (10:02)
• 4. Earth (3:01)
• 5. Sorrow** (1:26)
• 6. To Zucchabar*** (3:16)
• 7. Patricide (4:08)
• 8. The Emporer is Dead** (1:21)
• 9. The Might of Rome (5:18)
• 10. Strength and Honor (2:09)
• 11. Reunion** (1:14)
• 12. Slaves to Rome (1:00)
• 13. Barbarian Horde (10:33)
• 14. Am I Not Merciful? (6:33)
• 15. Elysium** (2:41)
• 16. Honor Him (1:19)
• 17. Now We Are Free**** (4:14)

* Written by Lisa Gerrard
** Written by Lisa Gerrard and Klaus Badelt
*** Written by Hans Zimmer and Djivan Gasparyan
**** Written by Hans Zimmer, Lisa Gerrard, and Klaus Badelt

 Track Listings ("More Music from Gladiator"): Total Time: 55:56

• 1. Duduk of the North** (5:35)
• 2. Now We Are Free (Juba's Mix)** (4:39)
• 3. The Protector of Rome*/** (1:28)
• 4. Homecoming* (3:38)
• 5. The General Who Became a Slave** (3:05)
• 6. The Slave Who Became a Gladiator* (6:14)
• 7. Secrets (2:01)
• 8. Rome is the Light** (2:46)
• 9. All That Remains** (0:57)
• 10. Maximus** (1:11)
• 11. Marrakesh Marketplace (0:44)
• 12. The Gladiator Waltz*/** (8:27)
• 13. Figurines (1:03)
• 14. The Mob (2:24)
• 15. Busy Little Bee* (3:50)
• 16. Death Smiles at Us All* (2:32)
• 17. Not Yet*/** (1:33)
• 18. Now We Are Free (Maximus Mix)**/*** (3:49)

* Includes dialogue from the film
** Contains music not heard in the film
*** Remix by Fred Jorio and Eric Calvi

 Notes and Quotes:  

The original 2000 album's insert includes no extra information about the score, but the 2001 'More Music' album contains very lengthy notes from Hans Zimmer about each cue and a short addendum by Lisa Gerrard. The 'More Music' album also contains bonus features as an enhanced CD.

  All artwork and sound clips from Gladiator are Copyright © 2000, 2001, 2005, Decca Records (Gladiator), Decca Records (More Music), Decca Records (Anniversary Set). The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 5/5/00 and last updated 10/27/07. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2000-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.