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Attila (Soundtrack) by Nick Glennie-Smith

Score of the Hun
Review by Christopher Coleman

 

Attila by Nick Glennie-Smith

Attila
6/10

Attila (Soundtrack) by Nick Glennie-Smith

 

Category

Score

Originality 5
Music Selection 6
Composition 5
CD Length 7
Track Order 6
Performance 6
Final Score 6/10

 

 

Composer Nick Glennie-Smith
Composer 
Nick Glennie-Smith

 

 

Composed, Arranged and Conducted by: Nick Glennie-Smith
Orchestrated by: Anthony Rozankovic, Benoit Groulx & Eric Legacé
Produced by: Nick Glennie-Smith and Malcolm Luker
Orchestra: The Budapest Film Orchestra
Concertmaster: Gábor Bohus
Performed by Cimbalom: Péter Sőregi, Gypsy Violin: Sándor Budai, Flute: Anita Lőrincz,
Voice: Katalin Silló, Ethnic Flute: Róbert Kerényi Choir: The Honvéd Male Choir.
Music Editor and CD Compilation: Laura Perlman
CD Excutive Producter: John J. Alcantar III, produced by Nick Glennie-Smith and Ford A .Thaxton

With Ancient Rome still close to the forefront of most movie-goers' minds, USA pictures took on the task of telling the tale of a man, his people and their defiance of the once-great Roman Empire.  To further connect their film with the "phenom du 2000," Gladiator, the film's producers chose veteran composer, Nick-Glennie Smith to provide the musical score.

While the prospect of a film on the mysterious life of Attila the Hun seemed compelling to me, in the end, the constraints of a cable-network-film-budget, mercilessly reduced this story to a forgettable, two-part miniseries of men in skirts, wooden swords and plastic shields.  Amazingly, there have been a number of positive reviews of this two-part series. Such reviews, for the most part, have come from those who became enamored with the Gerard Butler, who plays the Hun leader.  Those who were taken in by this relative unknown have gone as far as to say that the film was equal to or better than Braveheart or Gladiator!  Unfortunately, for those of us who were able to watch the mini-series with our eyes and minds, instead of our loins, the shallowness of the production was blatant.  With this being the case, and the strong tie between film and score appreciation, just how would Glennie-Smith's latest effort be judged? 

My reaction to the score for Attila is mixed.  On the one hand, its obvious references to Zimmer's Gladiator, are painfully distracting.  It is very  hard to listen to and appreciate Attila, on its own, simply because one is constantly picking up one reference after another to Zimmer's  2000 score.  Once again, the composer can't shoulder "the blame" for this approach alone, as he was likely instructed to develop a score based on Zimmer's Golden Globe winning effort.  Be this as it may, the similarities proved distracting while watching the series and does so again in listening to the soundtrack. Now, on the other hand, divorced from the series and if one can somehow separate Attila from Gladiator, the score has something to offer.  The music is a cut above many television scores and along with efforts like Dune (Grame Revell) and On the Beach (Christopher Gordon), helps to raise the standard for television film music.

Nick Glennie-Smith's last effort, Highlander: Endgame, left a number of film score fan's wanting.  Attila; however, is turns out to be much more interesting and consistent.   It would be very easy to go, almost, from track to track, and point out the Zimmer/Gladiator references, but most will be able to pick them out with one ear closed.  Suffice it to say that NUMEROUS cues from Gladiator must have served as temp-tracks during the production work.  The references seem to almost  be actual quotes of some of the most recognizable portions of Zimmer's work.  Notice, I said, "Zimmer's work."   While there are vocals employed, even a female soloist, Glennie-Smith does manage to stay away from any direct Lisa Gerrard references. 

With all of these similar ingredients, it might be expected for me to say, "If you liked Gladiator, then you'll like Attila."  This statement is impossible for me to make.   Zimmer's score is a four-star effort on its own, but it is the association with the film that actually makes the score a five-star experience.  Alone, Smith's score for Attila comes in just above a three-star effort, but to be reminded of the mini-series it accompanied would reduce it to two-stars.  So, those who didn't see the series will be able to better appreciate this score and those who haven't seen or heard Gladiator (if such a person exists) will likely enjoy Attila.

While Attila doesn't stand a chance in a head to head comparison with Gladiator, this is not to say that Smith has delivered a "bad" score.  In actuality, considering this was produced for a made-for-tv-film, the score is of fairly high caliber.  The Budapest Film Orchestra provides an adequate performance, despite coming off a bit "smallish" in sound.  It would be interesting to hear this score performed by a massive orchestra and choir.  Smith does subtly utilize one of his trademark sounds - the male choir.  To hear that famed synthesized choir again in tracks such as Young Attila (1) or Attila Attacks (16) instantly hearkens back to The Rock and Crimson Tide - always a pleasant memory.

Despite a decent cast and interesting personality to expound upon, Attila, the mini-series came up short of expectations.  What is surprising is just how similar Glennie-Smith's score is to Zimmer's Gladiator.  It's one thing be inspired by or to borrow here and there, but Attila takes it to another level.  Most who watched the television series were probably only subconsciously influenced by the music and likely did not catch any similarities between Attila and Gladiator.  Film music fans; however, will instantly pick up on these commonalities and may be put off by the lack of originality.  If it were possible to listen to Nick Glennie-Smith's work in isolation from anything else, it might be said that this score was enjoyable and is Glennie-Smith's best effort in the last few years.


Track Listing and Ratings

 Track Title Time

Rating

1 Young Attila 1:49  ****
2 The Legend 6:30  ****
3 Galen's Theme 1:55  ***
4 Attila The Man 2:27  ****
5 N'Kara's Theme 1:53  ****
6 Battle 5:30  ***
7 To Rome 2:52  **
8 Ballet to Hedonism 2:19  **
9 Duel to Death 6:19  ***
10 Hun Raid 1:24  ***
11 Attila the King 7:27  ***
12 Ildico's Theme 3:13  ***
13 Off to War 1:48  ***
14 Battle of Orleans 5:13  ***
15 Preparing for Battle 4:36  ***
16 Attila Attack 7:25  ***
17 Wedding Day 1:26  ***
18 Wedding Night 5:09  ***
19 The King is Dead 4:56  ****
 

Total Running Time

74:13  
 

Referenced Reviews
Gladiator | Highlander: Endgame