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The Bible
  • Composed by Hans Zimmer and Lorne Balfe
  • Provident / 2013 / 56m

A miniseries from the History Channel, The Bible has largely been panned by critics but it’s the sort of thing that a lot of people will watch no matter what.  Despite seeming to have a lavish budget, evidently there wasn’t much left for the music, which is almost entirely synthetic and credited to Hans Zimmer and Lorne Balfe, with vocal performances from Lisa Gerrard.  The composers seem to have taken their inspiration at least in part from the music Zimmer wrote for that other great chronicle of Christian doctrine and ideals, The Da Vinci Code, with a number of tracks appearing to be offshoots from that score’s wonderful “Chevaliers de Sangreal”; some of the others appear to be offshoots from The Thin Red Line‘s even more wonderful “Journey to the Line”; yet more appear to be offshoots from mid-1990s Media Ventures action scores.

The trouble is, they’re not really very good offshoots, and the incredibly cheap recordings sound like they might be passable improvised synth mock-ups of the score rather than the score itself.  Gerrard’s vocals work well enough in places but they’re rather stale now, a decade after they were all de rigeur in film music.  Apart from the hideously cheap sound, the opening cue “Faith” makes for a reasonably engaging – if unmemorable – start, but after that things drop off very quickly and it’s very hard to take anything that sounds this cheap very seriously and I’m afraid it’s virtually impossible to keep from laughing at “In the Beginning”, which offers a power anthem for God – surely it can’t be serious?  (Not for the first time of late I am left wondering if this is really the work of a professional film composer.)  This is very silly music and seems at best to have been hugely misguided.  It’s quite an evolutionary journey (if I dare mention evolution in a review of The Bible) that leads from Alfred Newman’s The Robe or Elmer Bernstein’s The Ten Commandments or Miklós Rózsa’s King of Kings to music like this; one that doesn’t really bear thinking about, so it’s probably best to end now and listen to one of those instead.

Rating: * | |

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  1. Edmund Meinerts (Reply) on Sunday 17 March, 2013 at 16:23

    Tee hee, how gloriously predictable. 🙂

    I do have to agree that the incredibly cheap synth mockups that sound like they’re from the early 90s do have me scratching my head. Surely the budget wasn’t that low, and if it’s done for “artistic” reasons, then shoot me now.

    The music as composed isn’t too offensive, I think, but you really, really have to work hard to try and forget the infinitely better scores that the subject material has inspired (including Zimmer’s own Prince of Egypt, incidentally).

  2. James Southall (Reply) on Sunday 17 March, 2013 at 16:29

    Yes, Prince of Egypt is infinitely better, I agree.

  3. Kalman (Reply) on Friday 22 March, 2013 at 09:52

    I have to defend this album. I enjoyed it immensely. Yes, it is not Rozsa or Bernstein, but the usual Zimmer soundscape is actually working very well in this biblical project. It is melodic, spiritual and it’s probably my ears but I couldn’t really tell the whole score was performed by synthesizers, it sounds just right for me.
    I’m not Zimmer’s biggest fan but this score is very nice. 4 or 4 1/2 stars from me.

  4. Kalaisan Kalaichelvan (Reply) on Saturday 6 April, 2013 at 21:41

    I’m not going to lie, I’d like to give it 1 star myself. I’m sick of hearing this kind of music if I may be honest. It sounded cheap, and what music was there sounded like lazy offshoots of past material, and as you said, not very good ones too. It’s not unlistenable, but for such a concept, this score sounds like both Zimmer and Balfe didn’t really bother to put much thought into it, or even try and step out of their comfort zone for a bit. I’d give it 2 stars.

  5. ANDRÉ - CAPE TOWN. (Reply) on Tuesday 3 December, 2013 at 14:51

    I viewed Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado as the SON OF GOD last night. Roma Downey has progressed from an actor, in TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL, to a producer for the money-making 2013’s THE BIBLE- and now (with FOX) for SON OF GOD. The music accompaning the trailer(which featured miracles, raising the dead, fundamentalist Judaism & flagellation) was awful…pop-influenced with a song > NO spirituality…no ethnic Middle-Eastern instruments…no ROZSA or NEWMAN influences and nothing that sounded like ZIMMER’s awful synthesizer from THE BIBLE. So I requested info from the IMDB site > “no results” was the response! Do you [or any Movie-Wavers] know the name of this Biblical Epic’s composer James?

  6. James Southall (Reply) on Saturday 7 December, 2013 at 11:48

    It looks like the music for the show will also be by… Lorne Balfe!

  7. ANDRÉ - CAPE TOWN. (Reply) on Sunday 8 December, 2013 at 22:33

    Thanks James…I trust Balfe has heard the epic scores of Film Music icons who crafted spirituality, ethnic orchestrations, emotional angst and exquisite melodies into music dealing with Avatars>> Their mission through chronicled ages was to awaken Divine luminosity in Humankind – and elevate our species’ mental abilities & accomplishments to higher levels. Movies that explored the lives of these men (from Akhnaton in THE EGYPTIAN to the Nazarene in KING OF KINGS and Allah’s Prophet in THE MESSAGE etc) inspired Alfred Newman, Miklos Rozsa, Maurice Jarre, Ennio Morricone, Lawrence Rosenthal, Jerry Goldsmith, Nuno Malo and so many more to compose music capable of channeling our souls to cosmic realms. I hope Balfe’s opus for SON OF GOD connects with the creative beauty [& complexity] of his revered peers and astonishes critics & devotees of film music with a score to rival Cinema’s finest.

  8. Edmund Meinerts (Reply) on Tuesday 10 December, 2013 at 12:22

    Sorry, Andre, but if you think Balfe is going to take his cue from Rozsa, Newman and Jarre then you’re truly deluded.