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  • Composed by Marc Streitenfeld
  • Varese Sarabande 302 067 020 / 2010 / 51:42

Ridley Scott’s latest period piece sees him reunite with Russell Crowe and get to grips with a grittier Robin Hood.  The film’s received generally mixed reviews (it’s clearly not going to replicate the success of Gladiator).  Scott has always been somewhat eccentric when it comes to the music in his films; he made an enemy of Jerry Goldsmith over Alien but the patchwork score worked remarkably well, but since then the hits are considerably outweighed by the misses.  While the joke score for 1492 might be a low point, at least it produced a highly entertaining album; the director’s recent collaborations with Marc Streitenfeld, a composer who has never written a score for anyone else, are rather puzzling to say the least.  While past music in Ridley Scott films has regularly left a lot to be desired in the dramatic scoring department, it has at least generally been flashy and stylish, in keeping with the director’s visual style; Streitenfeld’s music on the other hand has simply been dull, offering no dramatic support to the film and making for remarkably boring albums at the same time.  Given the musical pedigree of Robin Hood (from Korngold to Kamen, there are numerous beloved film scores inspired by this story) it was with some trepidation that many film music fans will have approached this latest score.  As it turns out, the trepidation was justified.

In fairness, there is far more going on here than in the composer’s previous scores.  There’s even what is presumably meant to be a theme – while in truth it’s no more than a third-rate Hans Zimmer power anthem, at least there’s that small concession to tradition.  Otherwise, there is little going on here – of course, there’s middle eastern music (every film scored by a Zimmer relation which is set before 1900 features middle eastern music) and some of the sparse orchestration even seems appropriate for the time and setting of the film; a cynic might suspect coincidence, but let’s give the benefit of the doubt.  The problem is, it’s so dull.  While it may be the case that one of the previous 4,552,981 Robin Hood movies featured a worse score, I very much doubt that any has featured a more boring one.  Of course the film’s a lot darker and less fun than most of those which have gone before, but the continual gloom is desperately hard to enjoy.  If I ever find myself riding through the glen, then I’d only take music like this along if my men weren’t so much merry, but suicidal.  I’m sure I will hear plenty of less impressive scores this year, but few (if any) will be for films which can so obviously inspire great film music as this one.  With the greatest respect to Streitenfeld, his continued employment on mega-budget Ridley Scott blockbusters must rank as one of the greatest puzzlements in the history of film music.  **

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  1. Mark (Reply) on Friday 21 May, 2010 at 02:26

    I felt the same way about this score…. after the first listen. After another handful of times through the disc, I really am enjoying it now. 4 stars.

  2. Pawel Stroinski (Reply) on Sunday 6 June, 2010 at 01:45

    Did you know that Streitenfeld actually started as Hans Zimmer’s driver?

  3. franz_conrad (Reply) on Wednesday 9 June, 2010 at 02:27

    I don’t mind this one, actually. As for a more boring Robin Hood score, I think both Andy Price and Geoffrey Burgon could give him a run for his money. 😉

  4. Sup (Reply) on Wednesday 9 June, 2010 at 13:33

    id probably give this one 3 stars. Some of the action material is decent enough though i can absolutely understand that some people could see a lot of it as dull and referencing zimmers style. It certainly doesnt jump out at you from the speakers. For me though it was enjoyable and the theme heard early in sherwood forest and walters burial is also quite nice.
    I find it curious that he doesnt mention the theme for godfrey (or treachery in general). It was an interesting one in that i found it really menacing on album but rather distracting in the film. Not sure what to make of that and would have like to have heard the reviewers opinion

  5. tiago (Reply) on Wednesday 20 May, 2015 at 17:19

    Just heard this score today (five years later, lol).

    It is not as bad as I thought. I mean, there’s a lot of dull material, specially on the action/suspense cues. But there’s also some fine sweeping themes, which are pretty beautiful, and more restrained than those Zimmer power anthems. And some of them even recalls me the music that Ramin Djawadi would write a few years later for Game of Thrones.

    Anyway, this one is a fine guilty pleasure, and probably the best of Streitenfeld’s career.

  6. Edmund Meinerts (Reply) on Wednesday 20 May, 2015 at 17:30

    Yeah, it’s an OK score this. Nothing spectacular, but a few nice (if simplistic) themes in there. I like it better than Prometheus, even if that score is perhaps a wee bit more “accomplished” compositionally.

    Streitenfeld reminds me a bit of the Harald Kloser/Thomas Wanker duo. Not stylistically, mind you, but both of them write scores that are perfectly serviceable and seem to have all the right elements while simultaneously being almost astonishingly bland (is that a contradiction?).

    • James Southall (Reply) on Wednesday 20 May, 2015 at 20:35

      Agree about the Kloser comparison. The music isn’t bad, it’s just dull. I don’t know what would make a filmmaker think “I know who I want to score this – Marc Streitenfeld.”

  7. Edmund Meinerts (Reply) on Thursday 21 May, 2015 at 23:56

    You’d have to ask Ridley Scott.

  8. James Southall (Reply) on Friday 22 May, 2015 at 00:37

    I intend to.

  9. tiago (Reply) on Saturday 23 May, 2015 at 02:40

    That must be why Streitenfeld has composed for only a few movies – on IMDB, he has only 14 credits as composer, most of them Ridley Scott films. At least he seems to be a humble guy…