Kingdom Of Heaven Original Motion Picture Soundtrack by Sony Music
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Filmmaker Ridley Scott has long been intrigued by historical events and their contemporary echoes, a fascination that evinces itself again here in the violent tale of Balian of Ibelin (Orlando Bloom), a Jerusalem blacksmith who rallies his people against foreign invaders during the Crusades of the 12th century. Breaking with a successful modern collaboration with Hans Zimmer that yielded such eclectic riches as Gladiator, Hannibal, Black Hawk Down, and Matchstick Men, Scott turned here to fellow Englishman/former Zimmer associate Harry Gregson-Williams for his new film's music. The composer, perhaps weary of the electronica-suffused action film cliches he's so often been associated with, rises admirably to the occasion with a sweeping orchestral score that masterfully trades on a wealth of disparate historical and stylistic influences. Gregson-Williams echoes the film's religious and cultural conflicts via the tense musical axis at the soundtrack's core, one that sets the invading Church's medieval choral ecclesiastics on a collision course with the ancient Arabic modalities of the film's hero. The resulting score may occasionally trade on hoary Hollywood romantic traditions, but the composer infuses them with such bracing doses of historical/ethnic antecedents—and his own decidedly contemporary instincts—as to create a compelling new whole. Even the obligatory, pop-oriented version of Ibellin's Theme ("Light of Life") by Natacha Atlas shimmers with Middle Eastern-inflected enticement. --Jerry McCulley