- Composed by Ilan Eshkeri
- MovieScore Media MMS-10009 / 2010 / 45:09
What have the Romans ever done for us? I’m not quite old enough to remember the time they conquered Britain (it was the 2nd century, after all) bringing us roads and aqueducts and the like – how dare they! The building of aqueducts does not feature heavily in Centurion, about that invasion, though I’m sure there’s a big-budget blockbuster just waiting to be made on the subject. The music was composed by up-and-coming British composer Ilan Eshkeri, whose best-known scores beforehand were Stardust and The Young Victoria. It’s this one which really ought to propel him to a lot more people’s attention – a very fine action score full of good ideas and moments of surprising deftness.
That said, my reaction to reading the composer in the liner notes saying that the score is the result of a lot of research of ancient Scottish music reminds me a little of Miklós Rózsa secreting himself away for months on end researching ancient music and ending up writing a score which sounded exactly the same as all his other ones. This doesn’t sound like Eshkeri’s other ones, but it’s also not radically different from the standard modern Hollywood action score. What does distinguish it is the local flavour the composer adds, mainly through instrumentation (including the bizarre Scottish instrument the carnyx – the picture of which in the album booklet has to be seen to be believed) – and apparently several of the themes are based on ancient folk tunes, though in truth it’s not the themes which really make this score, it’s the design and execution. Celtic influences were a blight on film music for a while after Titanic but when done well can be a real boon, and they’re handled very well by Ishkeri here – adding just enough flavour without sounding hackneyed. Some thunderous action music (the London Metropolitan Orchestra’s percussion section in particular got a real workout) is very impressive and the engineering brings it out to its full potential. This is one of the year’s most enjoyable film music albums. ****