Ranking All Things Middle-earth
Today I’d like to introduce you to this first post in a weekly series entitle The Gaffers Elite!, in which I will attempt to do the impossible: rank all things Middle-earth films – from most to least favourite. “Least” shouldn’t even exist in this franchise but a ranking is a ranking after all, and something has to make it at the bottom of the list.
Every week I’ll be giving a quick look at the soundtracks, characters, battles, events …. and films; what I think should be at the top of said list and what should be just below.
So let’s kick things off by ranking Howard Shore’s soundtracks!
#1 The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Why? No one can deny the power of Howard Shore’s musical opening in this history-making trilogy. Peter Jackson may have provided the visuals and the storytelling, but without such a majestic and sweeping score in the first installment, The Lord of the Rings wouldn’t be as extraordinary and believable as it is.
Highlight: ‛The Departure of Boromir’
Why? After 9 years, Howard Shore manages to draw us back into Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth. Whilst this particular soundtrack contains a large amount of familiar motifs and recurrent themes, you can’t but feel nostalgic at how the music resonates as a younger, fresher and more innocent score than The Lord of the Rings – yet, still retaining that sense of belonging to the world. Shore just got it right again.
Highlight: ‛Misty Mountains’
Why? What a monumental conclusion to such a staggering trilogy. Shore manages to live up to the visuals and the sounds: weaving a grand tapestry of musical notes ranging from the dark and creepy, to the beautiful and divine.
Highlight: ‛The Eagles’
Why? Sweeping, moving, epic. Yes, Howard Shore manages once again to pull off the gargantuan task of offering new material to the ever-expanding world of Middle-earth. Introducing new themes, races, characters and locations, we are left reeling from the invigorating intensity of these musical compositions. Simply sublime.
Highlight track: ‛Where is the Horse and the Rider’
Why? Initially, I wasn’t impressed by the soundtrack of this second installment from The Hobbit trilogy. That sentiment was instantly withdrawn once I had allowed myself to delve a few more times in the film. There is a wealth of breathtaking tracks to choose from. The creepiness of Mirkwood seeps out to haunt you; your heart pounds out of control at the urgency during the Wilderland track; not to mention this second part now being forever synonymous with Smaug’s 6-noted motif. This is pure artistic composition.
Highlight track: ‛Girion, Lord of Dale’
Why? To be honest, this has been the least listened to, due to its rather recent release. Yet, Shore seems to have faltered in delivering the needed dose of awe to potentially round off 6 films. Perhaps it suffered as a result of the lacking storytelling elements and direction in the third act. Suffice to say, there are more than a few hidden gems here that are worthy of many praise and excel as other pieces of music from the entire franchise.
Highlight track: ‛Fire and Water’
I was going to do an Honourable Mentions list after this, but then I realised that there are just too many (pretty much all!) tracks from the 6 films that are as equally deserving and beautiful.
So I will reserve my judgement to let you share your most favourite and treasured pieces. Pick and choose! Mix and Match! And share in the comments section below … 😉
Next time we rank: Middle-earth Battles … ooooh
Copyright of images belongs to Warner Bros. Studios, MGM Studios and New Line Cinema