by Patrick Doyle
Sony Classical SK 62857
Released 1996
This score was one that I had a difficult time getting to appreciate. I had this disc first, as I remember, a few weeks before the film opened in Chicago at the Fine Arts. A couple of listens had me liking it, but I felt it was weak in the middle and a bit repetitious (many other reviews say these same things). I saw the film that opening weekend on Super Bowl Sunday (a "day" which means nothing to me). Well, I loved it. I was riveted, even though I was already familiar with the story. And I proceeded to see the film (all four hours of it) another four times before it left local screens. No big deal for some, but I had never seen any movie more than twice on the big screen. By the time of my fifth screening, I had listened to the CD a lot more. The middle section was really fleshing out, and what I had thought was mere simple repetition was a careful development and progression of themes - the melody is the same, but the orchestration and tone changes with the mood of the scene and the film. I had finally transcended the initial evaluation and worshipped the complete score as a towering, magnificent work. Some complain that it's overly bombastic, but I disagree; rather, I think its volume within the film was just a bit too loud. I also think those who say that are just eager to find fault with Kenneth Branagh no matter what. :) The film is now one of my favourites of all time, and I put the score on an equally high plateau, among my top five scores ever. If you have it but don't think much of it, I encourage you to not just give it another spin, but *several* more spins. Highly Recommended.

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