- Composed by Jerry Goldsmith
- Intrada / 2013 / 37m
A largely-forgotten boxing movie from 1992, perhaps Gladiator had a bit of a boost on home video by people buying it in error rather than Ridley Scott’s somewhat more successful film of the same name. Those people who did see the film witnessed a score by Brad Fiedel; but as the note on the back of this CD case points out, “This album does not contain original score by Brad Fiedel.” I propose that from now on, all albums that don’t feature original score by Brad Fiedel should be so marked. Before the Terminator composer came on board, the film had actually been scored by the great Jerry Goldsmith, who had the ignominy of his music being dumped. Listening to his bright, breezy, drum machine-infused music – and contrasting this with the apparent gritty, realistic tone aimed for by the film – then, much as it pains me to admit it, it’s not really hard to understand why there was a parting of ways.
On its own terms, the music isn’t without merit. The main theme used for the fight scenes is cheerfully heroic, not dissimilar to Hoosiers, though the melody isn’t as memorable (and the synths sound horribly out of date bearing in mind the film was released in 1992). By far the most satisfying of these sequences is the extended finale, spread over two cues. Another theme – slightly funkier and used in the opening cue along with many other places – is also enjoyable enough, but does rather sound like an old white man trying to write young black men’s music. The most attractive music here is the love theme, heard frequently for saxophone with keyboard accompaniment – it’s a bit like The Russia House, but with drum machines. I’m a died-in-the-wool Goldsmith fanatic and so I can find enough here to keep me entertained, misguided though the music seems to be, but anyone who isn’t in that category might struggle to take it too seriously. In terms of this composer’s music for sports movies, it’s at the Mr Baseball end of the scale.
Rating: ** 1/2