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Gladiator music analysis (Music assessment)

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Bailey Ainsworth

on 16 November 2015

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Transcript of Gladiator music analysis (Music assessment)

Gladiator Music analysis

Music is optional, mute it at the bottom left hand corner whenever a scene is played

And Spoilers!!!

The countless academy award winner, Gladiator, directed by Ridley Scott and composed by Hans Zimmer is a highly respected film because of its outstanding visuals and spectacular soundtrack (imbd.com, 2015). The movies main score, “Now we are free” written by Lisa Gerrad and Hans Zimmer is developed throughout the film representing itself as a leitmotif to the protagonist, Maximus Decimus Meridius. In this presentation, two scenes will be analysed in terms of their musical scores and how it enhances the emotion and mood of the visuals in the scene. The first scene that I will be analysing is the barbarian horde where Maximus and his roman men fight against the Germanic Barbarians.
Text is shown on the next slide
The barbarian horde scene is filled with instruments ranging from strings, percussion and brass. This scene creates many hitpoints, which enhance the visuals immensely. In the beginning, violins use ostinato staccato on a high-pitched note creating suspension. Low and thick brass comes in, creating the sound of doom and war highlighting the destruction of artillery. A small violin melody arrives soon after in front of the ostinato rhythm to transition to Maximus and his cavalry. It is easy to contrast the mood between both shots, the artillery is menacing with a beating down pulse however Maximus and his cavalry has more suspense and heroic themes mainly consisting of strings. High brass melody comes in when many barbarians are shown killed by Rome’s monstrous artillery with a long distance camera shot of catapults to reinforce Rome’s overwhelming power. A minor glissando comes in from the violins to enhance the intensity as the Barbarian soldiers charge. Dynamics are utilised heavily in this scene, especially when Maximus is killing Barbarian soldiers on his horse heroically because the strings start at mezzo piano and end at forte. Then, as soon as Maximus gets thrown off his horse, the brass and strings use low and dooming sounds again to reflect Maximus’ struggle to get back on his feet. Once he finally picks himself back up, the screen gets blurry and the music gets really sad and depressing, with low legato solo strings creating a thick texture. This is the first time the main theme, “Now we are free” is heard. This theme is played softly throughout many of the films scenes, but is fully composed in the very last scene.

Scene 1 analysis
Maximus’ death is the most recognisable scene in the whole film; the reason for this is highly to do with the beautiful and emotional piece, “Now we are free.” When everyone in the colosseum is dead silent after witnessing the emperor’s death and staring at Maximus whose trying to hold himself up from a fatal wound earlier. All that is heard is piano violins playing slow chords from the musical score, “Now we are free” which is a leitmotif for Maximus. When Maximus starts to have glimpses of his afterlife, soft vocals come in sung by Lisa Gerrad. It is believed by some that she is speaking another language, however in an interview, she and Hans Zimmer stated that the lyrics were complete nonsense. Maximus is then slightly woken up by general Quintas, which Maximus then responds and says his last orders until he falls to the ground. As he dies, the main theme starts off again at mezzo forte and bringing in the main chords of the piece signifying his heroic sacrifice. Maximus is seen walking through his wheat fields towards his wife and son, while this is happening, mezzo piano legato violins play chords with soft percussion over Lisa Gerrad’s vocals. This music makes the audience feel emotional from the slow tempo, low and long strings. Maximus’ body is carried and mezzo piano brass is heard to give the score thicker texture. As the credits roll, the score begins it’s bridge, of louder percussion and different vocal melody which ultimately brings tears to everyone’s eyes.

Scene 2 analysis
When comparing these two scenes, it is obvious that they are very different. The Barbarian horde scene is filled with loud, thick and low sounds to create a war themed mood. Maximus’ death however, intentionally makes the audience feel emotionally sad that the hero of the film has died. This scene has medium soft, slow, legato strings, which is the observable recipe for tears. The two scenes are practically opposites, although have the same movie theme in each scene, “Now we are free.” It is hard to recognise the theme in the Barbarian horde scene, but heard completely and fully when Maximus is dying.

Maximus' Death
Barbarian Horde
Overall, it has been clearly deduced that the music in the film, Gladiator, have massive impacts on the films emotion and mood. The barbarian scene creates a suspension and intensity when Maximus’ death builds up sadness, emotional but also satisfying. Both scenes are extremely different but definitely use a formula to achieve that emotion that Zimmer and Scott desired.

Maximus' death
Barbarian horde
Imbd. (n.d.). Gladiator - Awards - IMDb. Retrieved November 2, 2015, from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0172495/awards
Study.com. (2013). Major and Minor Keys: Tonality in Music - Video & Lesson Transcript | Study.com. Retrieved November 2, 2015, from http://study.com/academy/lesson/major-and-minor-keys-tonality-in-music.html
Exampleessays.com. (n.d.). Example Essays.com - Retrieved November 2, 2015, from http://www.exampleessays.com/viewpaper/51051.html\
Film Score Junkie. (n.d.). Film Music Notes | Analysis, Style, Technique, and More. Retrieved November 2, 2015, from http://www.filmmusicnotes.com
Filmtracks.com. (2000, June 5). Filmtracks: Gladiator (Hans Zimmer/Lisa Gerrard). Retrieved from http://www.filmtracks.com/titles/gladiator.html
Tillnes, J. (2013, May 29). Soundtrack Review: Gladiator (2000) | Soundtrack Geek V2. Retrieved from http://www.soundtrackgeek.com/v2/soundtrack-review-gladiator/
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