The Soundtrack

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What can I say?  Can CDs ever get damaged from being left in the CD player for unhealthy amounts of time?

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My sister bought it for me about a week after I saw the film, and it is just about one of the best presents I've ever received!  One things I love so much about music of any kind is the emotions it can get across to an audience.  The music contained on the "Gladiator" CD is chock-filled with emotions. There are some tracks containing passages so stirring and moving that they'll have you looking around for a sword to go out and fight for your country.  Others will have you in tears.  A lot of it gives you this strange feeling in the pit of your stomach that rises as the music goes on, and you you find your heart rate quickens, and you just sit there thinking, "What the Hell is happening here?!"  It's as if it is casting a spell over you, all you have to do is put the sound up and close your eyes and 'hey presto!'  You're transported across time and space into a whole different land.  It's almost as if you are there, whether it's on the bleak, snowy battlefields of Germania, watching brutal fights to the death in the arena, or walking through the tranquil fields of Elysium. 

When I first put the soundtrack on, I found that the battle tracks, particularly "The Battle" (!) and "Barbarian Horde", seemed a little too harsh and brutal on the ear, especially the brass parts, and I was a little bit unsure whether or not I really liked it.  But of course, I listened to it again, and again, and surprise surprise it grew on me as quickly as fungus does on old bread (don't ask me where that came from cos I really don't know).  It no longer sounded so "noisy", just pretty darn amazing, "blast-worthy" and totally in context with the film.  I think it was mainly down to the soundtrack that really sparked off my whole "Gladiator" obssession, because the more I listened to it, the more it reminded of the film, and the more of the film I remembered, the more I loved it, and the more I desperately wanted to see it again.

I love the way each track runs on seamlessly into the next, but my annoying stereo puts gaps in between tracks when I was making a tape of it!  Grrrr. 

My favourite tracks have to be:

Track 3, The Battle  - Of course it's even better with 1 and 2 before it.  Hans Zimmer captures the speed, brashness and fatality of the battle brilliantly.  Because I am sad, and I have listened to the CD for so flippin' long, I can even give you the times of my favourite parts of the track.  See if you agree with me:

00:00 up to about 00:58.  Heehee, this the first of one of the main "themes" throughout the film which I love so much.   But annoying thing is, this theme in the film is extended and longer than it is on the CD!  How annoying!!!  I hum this a lot.

04:01 up to 04:38 - I listen to this and immediately the trailer flashes through my head.  The general....who became a slave...who became a, do-dodododo-do-dodo-doooooo.....   I'm mad.

05:51 to 06:18 - Very battle-y.  Another of one of the 'main themes' I like.

Track 4, Earth - Aargh, this track is so gorgeous and sad!  I find myself listening to this with my eyes closed and smiling.  This theme I call the "Maximus theme".  It's used most predominantly again in "Barbarian Horde", completely differently, and again in "Elysium". *sniffle*  I can just see Max kissing the figurine of his wife...oh to be a piece of clay... ;-)

Tracks 8 and 9, The Emperor is Dead/The Might of Rome - Towards the end of "The Might of Rome", there's a bit where, hmmm how can I explain this, where it sounds like the unveiling of a new ship in a sci-fi movie.  Okay, weird I know, but it does. 

Track 10, Strength and honour - This music is very stirring in its own right.  The gradual crescendo brings flashes of the scene where Max refuses to fight Hagen.  That defiant posture, the flippant way he flicks the sword to the ground, how he takes each hit and stands painfully straight again with that steady it.

Track 11, Reunion - One word: Sob!

Track 12, Slaves to Rome - encapsulates the uplifted mood brilliantly.

Track 13, Barbarian Horde - Oooh, I LOVE this track!  So rousing and everything!  It contains three of my fave themes.  Here they are:

05:36 to 06:02 - Same as is used in "The Battle", but I still love it.  I usually play it very loud, much to my parents' annoyance.

06:35 to 06:58 - It's the "Maximus theme" again but completely re-jigged!  I think it's at the part where Max is riding the white horse...hughughghghg.  Sorry, I'll stop drooling now. *G*

09:19 to 10:26- This is the same theme as is used at the beginning of "The Battle" but again completely different.  Very stirring, very emotional, and I especially love the short sharp chords at the end, where I can't help but join in with the crowd's cheering in time of, "Maximus!  Maximus!   Maximus!"  Heeheeeheeeheeeeee.

Track 14, Am I Not Merciful? - This track was never one of my favourites until quite recently, and it's really grown on me.  What I like about this track is the tense undercurrents that those deep, rustling strings create.  Quite unnerving!  It's very ominous and threatening in tone, which works really effectively.  Recently it has just been plain addictive, my stomach turns with butterflies listening to it - I can see it all, the red petals floating down into the arena, the flash of Commodus' keen blade, the wooden 'lift' rising up into the arena...*sob*.

Tracks 15, 16 and 17, Elysium/Honor Me/Now We Are Free - Aargh!   it'ssosadandohnoitmakesmmewanttocryandagreatbiglumprisesinmythroatandhowcouldtheydoittheykilledmaximusbutit'sallsobeautifulandwowlookwhatit'sdoingtomethisisamazing.

That is just an example of what these three collectively do to my brain.  On one occasion, it was late, I was lying on my bed feeling depressed, I listened to these three tracks and I just cried and cried.  Wow.   When I listen to Elysium I think "Oh nooooo!!!", and I can just see Maximus in the arena, drifting in and out of consciousness, then reaching out for the door only to be called back by Quintus *gulp*.  Elysium is really sad, cos there it is again, the Maximus theme, yet it is so different to the vibrant tones in "Barbarian Horde"!  Argh.  And Now We Are Free is just so uplifting, I get on such a high.  Lisa Gerrard's voice is so haunting, beautiful, melodious and soul-touching all at the same moment.  What is really sad, is the fact that for ages I kept thinking "What language is she singing this in?"  I even transliterated what she was singing and listened to it so much that I could just about sing along with her.  And then I find out that she's not singing in any language, it's all made up words!  You can imagine how stupid I felt, but it didn't matter, because whatever it was she was singing, it still got across a message that manages to give you a warm, fuzzy feeling. *sigh*

Other stuff:

On TV, they played the last little bit from "Barbarian Horde" when they were recapping images of the England vs. Romania match in Euro 2000!

The BBC used Now We Are Free in their adverts for the Olympics.

Adverts for the BBC programme The History of Great Britain use extensive amounts of music from The Battle.

Comic Relief 2001 used Gladaitor music in some of their African appeals.  I noticed tracks 1, 5, 15, and 17.

Many figure skaters have used Gladiator as their routine music.