Soundtrack Review: ROBIN HOOD
Admittedly, the first song that comes to my mind when I think of ROBIN HOOD is, “Robin Hood and Little John, walkin’ through the forest, laughin’ back and forth at what the other has to say, reminiscin’, this n’ thattin’, havin’ such a good time, oo-de-lally, oo-de-lally, golly what a day…” as sung in the beginning of the cartoon version released by Disney in 1973. I was excited to hear the “grown-up” version as imagined by director Ridley Scott (GLADIATOR) and composer Marc Streitenfeld (AMERICAN GANGSTER, BODY OF LIES). Streitenfeld, who first worked with Scott on the film A GOOD YEAR, has since composed all of Scott’s films, now adding his latest release, ROBIN HOOD, to that list.
Although I did not see the film prior to my review, the soundtrack was successful in painting a musical picture of the overall story and giving certain characters their own musical themes. The track “Godfrey” is off-putting and almost sinister in its staccato beats just as Godfrey (Mark Strong) himself is deceitful in his alleged alliance to England when his true allegiance is to France. Well-known as a less than noble king, “John Is King” mirrors those ideas with ominous tones and foreboding drums. Not the types of themes you would normally associate with a king and leader, reinforcing the idea that John (Oscar Isaac) has motives unfitting of a true king.
“Robin Speaks” is our hero theme, and aptly so, as Robin (Russell Crowe) is the hero of this tale and film. The uplifting swell of horns and strings that bring this piece to its climax almost made me want to pick up a bow and arrow and join in the battle. These themes are echoed in “Landing Of The French” as Robin proves to be the hero we all know him to be, going up against the French to fight for England.
Both “Killing Walter” and “Walter’s Burial” combine the sense of anger, mourning and importance, emotions I think many people feel when dealing with death of someone close to you. On the opposite end of the spectrum, “Merry Men” is more up beat and almost danceable track, ending the score on an optimistic tone.
“Sherwood Forest” stood out as my favorite piece as it was full-bodied and beautifully composed. Just as landmark locations such as New York and London can become characters themselves in films, Sherwood Forest is almost as famous as Robin Hood himself and this track did well to highlight that fact. “Nottingham Burns” is the only track with slight vocals (although no actual lyrics) creating the feeling of tragedy and loss that would be felt as Nottingham, another iconic location related to Robin Hood, is destroyed.
I am a big fan of scores and can listen to an all-instrumental album with as much enthusiasm as an album I can also sing along to. Because of that, I was slightly surprised when I found myself underwhelmed with Streitenfeld’s latest composition. My taste seems to gravitate more towards scores based in piano and strings which may be why Streitenfeld’s horn and percussion centric score, although solid, did not strike a real chord (pardon the pun) with me. This may also be due to the fact that I was unable to take in a screening of the film itself before listening to the soundtrack. However, I have found that sometimes I will dislike a film and completely enjoy the soundtrack and vice versa. In this case, neither the film nor its soundtrack really appealed to me.
This soundtrack is available through Varèse Sarabande.
3. Fate Has Smiled Upon Us
6. Pact Sworn In Blood
7. Returning The Crown
8. Planting The Fields
9. Sherwood Forest
10. John Is King
11. Robin Speaks
12. Killing Walter
13. Nottingham Burns
15. Landing Of The French
16. Walter’s Burial
17. Preparing For Battle
20. The Final Arrow
21. Merry Men
All songs on this soundtrack composed by Marc Streitenfeld.