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  • Stefan Riedlinger

The Last Legion - Patrick Doyle - Soundtrack Review

„The Last Legion“ was one of the soundtracks I bought before I even saw the movie. After Jerry Goldsmith’s death, I was looking for one composer who might fill this huge gap, who is composing in an orchestral style I like and who is scoring movies in a regular way. I was becoming a fan of Patrick Doyle with his soundtrack for “Dead Again” and especially with “Needful Things” and “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein”. Therefore, I bought “The Last Legion” without seeing the film. Here is the trailer:

The movie

I just saw the movie a few weeks ago, and I have to say I like it. “The Last Legion” (2007) is an action adventure film directed by Doug Lefler, produced by Dino De Laurentiis and based on a 2002 Italian novel written by Valerio Massimo Manfredi. It stars Colin Firth, Sir Ben Kingsley and the Indian star Aishwarya Rai. I heard that this movie was made to establish Rai in the European market, and she is playing her role as a tough female fighter in a very brave way.

The film is loosely inspired by the events of 5th-century European history, notably the collapse of the Western Roman Empire and the attacking of the Goths. This is coupled with other facts and legends from the history of Britain and fantastic elements from the legend of King Arthur to provide a basis for the Arthurian legend. Critics did not like the movie and say it was crap. The story-line was heavily criticized, the action scenes were not as excited as expected and the cast was said to just give an average performance.

Here is a “Behind the scenes” clip:

I watched the movie while taking a seven hours train from Munich to Berlin and just watched it because I wanted to discuss this soundtrack on my blog. I did not expect a lot of the movie, I did not even read about it and just started watching, but I have to say I really liked it. The action scenes are good, there is some wacky humor in it, and Doyle’s bombastic music is really the best part of it.

The music

I bought this soundtrack nearly 8 years ago, and it is funny that I was never in the mood to watch the movie. I just enjoyed this soundtrack by itself, and especially the track Nr 6 “Escape From Capri” is one of my all-time favorites. Doyle is composing an action track that is quite funny and underscores ones of the best scenes in the movie.

The scores gives us a very nice and bombastic main theme in the opening cue “Sacred Pentangle”, a theme that is typical for Doyle’s way of composing in a heroic way. The score is not very sophisticated, it is bombastic, majestic, sometimes very noisy and a little bit repetitive. If you want to have a nice majestic score in the tradition of “Gladiator” but without Lisa Gerrald, then buy this one.

“Coronation” is even more majestic. The London Symphony Orchestra and Choir gives a nice performance, and you get really into the idea what coronation music should be. With track 3 “Goth Seize Rome”, the second main theme is introduced. If you continue listening, you get the feeling what I mean with repetition. The following tracks give us majestic music contrasted with some more lyrical tracks such as “Wrong Answer” and “Secret Sword”.

Then we have my highlight of the score, “Escape From Capri”, and with “Nestor’s Betrayal”, we have another action track that will remind you of “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein”. “Journey To Britannia” is another more lyrical one, again with the nice main theme, this time played mostly by strings. “Hadrian’s Wall” is a track that underscores the preparation for the big final battle. I especially like the more lyrical moments of this score.

“Excalibur” is another more lyrical track for the famous sword, and “Sword Play Romance” is a more traditional one because of the usage of the strings in the beginning, one of the few romantic moments in the movie. “Who killed them?” is underscoring the moment when the king is told who murdered this parents, another quieter moment of the score.

With “The Battle of Hadrian’s Wall”, we have the longest track of the score, the music for the big action scene in the end. It starts lyrical and quiet with the beautiful main theme, and then the action starts. This music will remind you again in a lot of ways of the “Frankenstein”-soundtrack by Doyle, especially the way he is using the brass and the percussion sections. There is a tragic undertone in this track because the few Romans are nearly not able to fight against the rude and brutal Goths. The battle continues with “Death Of Vortgyn”, and with “No More War” we have the final speech of the King and the track that brings this soundtrack to an epic end, for me another highlight of the score.

As said before, “The Last Legion” is not Doyle’s best score, but I still recommend to buy it because of “Escape From Capri”. Also if you are tired of the typical Hans Zimmer soundtracks for epic action music, Doyle’s music is a good way to relax and be prepared for your own battle, e.g. going to an interview, talking to your noisy neighbors or going to your next workout.

Copyright © Stefan Riedlinger, 2016, all rights reserved. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Stefan Riedlinger.

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