Gladiator, soft but slowly builds up as the film

Gladiator, is a film released in 2000s, was directed by Ridley Scott and composed by Hans Zimmer and Lisa Gerrard. Gladiator is a highly respected film because of its outstanding visuals and spectacular soundtrack. In this analysis I will try to uncover parts the thematic material and how the thematic relates to the picture and how it is used, to get the most out of the film’s first 26 minute’s dramaturgyThe music in the film is used for many things, such as expressing the characters personality, the role they have in the film, setting the mood or atmosphere and more. The way the music is set up in this excerpt is perfect and really makes a huge impact on the film. The first 26 minutes of the film is almost like a musical overture to the whole score. Zimmer showcases the main thematic material and sets the mood for the film. During the build up to the battle, the music is soft but slowly builds up as the film gets more intense. This helps not only create excitement in the listener but also creates a intense and dangerous atmosphere. Maximus then rides onto the battlefield with his horse and we hear a theme played in the horns, which are accompanied with choirs, strings and strumming guitars. Soon, the mood changes when the barbarians start screaming chants. Maximus bends down, picks up some soil and smells it. Another theme starts playing softly in cello and the bases in a very ominous nature. After Maximus says his speech, he prepare his troops for battle, we hear a short brass stab, followed by another theme which starts playing on acoustic guitar followed by staccato strings. When Maximus finishes his speech, the images shift to the archers preparing for battle and music starts playing in low brass and strings. We see images of soldier loading up catapults and while the music plays in the brass, giving us a sense of power of the Roman legion. The catapults are loaded and the music becomes more calm and creates a feeling of anxiousness and suspense. The music continues to play in brass while the trumpets starts to play. Once the catapults release their fiery charges and the music starts playing in brass while the strings join in. After, we hear staccato brass while woodwind and strings provide marcato accented stabs. In the beginning, violins use ostinato staccato on a high pitched note creating suspense and tension. Low and thick brass comes in, creating the sound of doom and war. A small violin melody arrives soon after in front of the ostinato rhythm to transition to Maximus and his cavalry. Maximus and his cavalry have more suspense and heroic themes mainly consisting of strings. High brass melody comes in when many barbarians are shown killed in the onslaught of catapults and arrows, they still chant and cheer as-though nothing has happened. In the battle, Zimmer plays a powerful and harsh theme which is filled with instruments ranging from strings, percussion, and brass, making the listener more and more intrigued to what is happening but also telling us that the barbarian horde is still going strong and that the battle is far from over. A minor glissando comes in from the violins to enhance the intensity as the barbarian soldier charge. Dynamics are heavily utilized in this scene, especially when Maximus is killing barbarians soldiers on his horse heroically because the strings start at mezzo piano and end at forte. Then, as soon as Maximus gets thrown off his horse, the brass and strings use low and dooming sounds again to reflect Maximus’ struggle to get back on his feet while he is on the floor fighting a barbarian. Once he finally picks himself back up, the screen gets blurry and slow-motion shots are shown while the diegetic sounds are emphasized, the music gets really sad and depressing, with low legato solo strings creating a thick texture. The slow adagio music with warm strings really gives a great mood to the filmography and edits. Towards the end of the battle, there is a diminuendo in the music as the mood once again changes to the sense of relief but also a victory. The cue finally ends and gives way to the sound of the approaching carriage of Commodus and his sister. The music used for each character really stands out as it expresses who they are and their role within the film. Maximus -As the protagonist Maximus has a lot of thematic material, which is linked specifically to him, yet is often use with association with other characters as well. Wheat theme (theme used in the start of the film where he is in a wheat field) is used in context with his family and nostalgia for his lost homeland. It is linked to Maximus as a farmer and humble man. Heroic theme (theme used when showing the heroic side of him), we hear it when we first see Maximus, both wheat theme and heroic theme contrasts each other and show both sides of Maximus. Earth theme (theme used before the battle where he picks up soil and smells it) are closely linked to Maximus and his nature. The use of the trumpet is also quite common as the instrument is known to be more masculine.Commodus – Commodus has several themes, that are distinctively his. One of his themes were played when the movie started, it is played by a medieval instrument called, Gamshorn. Theme C (used in the start of the movie and throughout the movie for Commodus), in my opinion, really portrays and catches the essence of the personality of Commodus. As a viewer of the film, you feel sorry for him, yet you are scared of him and hate him at the same time. The theme helps with this a lot, since the theme itself is very pure and soft, but still evokes fear and uncertainty. Another important theme from Commodus is theme evil (used to express commodus’ character), often played after the pure and soft theme C, theme evil is primarily played by solo cello or cello section with no big orchestration. It portrays the pure evil side of Commodus. It enhances the scary and eerie side of theme C with it’s haunting nature. Lucilla – Unlike Maximus and Commodus, Lucilla’s theme is filled with calmness and warmth, her theme is played in legato and mainly played with string instruments. The music is dolce and also has an affabile feel to it. This suggests that she is not a villain unlike Commodus where he has an evil theme which portrays evil side of him, I believe this music portrays her personality and her beauty along with her strength. The cello is used in this theme as it is known to be a very feminine and beautiful instrument. The first we time we hear the theme that represents Maximus’ home is at the beginning where he is in the middle of a wheat field. The music is played by a medieval wind instrument, made out mounting goat horn, as stated before, called the Gemshorn.  The theme is simple yet very emotional and dark. This theme is later used mostly for Commodus as it is one of the main themes for Commodus and his sinister nature. The music then goes into a different theme, this is played by what sounds like 2 delayed acoustic guitars with beautiful duduk improvisations on top and strings bourdon. The next theme we hear is beautifully sung by Lisa Gerrard, that overlays images of hand touching fields of wheat. We also hear children singing in the background and we get a sense of nostalgia and calmness. Acoustic guitars start playing again while Lisa is still singing. This theme is repeated throughout the film as it represents Maximus’ home which also represents the both sides of Maximus; a farmer at heart yet a general in a roman army. In conclusion, music plays a powerful role when it comes to film-making. The music has made a massive impact on the emotion and mood of the film, the thematic material used is very well thought out and we can see that Zimmer spends a lot of time and care with his themes to make them perfect for the characters and scenes. The music influences the film so much that without it exactly how it is now, the film may feel quite empty causing the viewer to lose interest very easily. Not only does the music sparks interest within the listener, it also provokes many other emotions which you may not feel without the correct music used. I noticed that in this film, the music used are quite catchy and easily recognizable, this is important as after the viewer has seen the film, they will not only remember the visuals of the film but also the music in the film. Overall, I believe that Gladiator is the perfect example to show how much music really affects a film and how much effort is put into the musical aspect when it comes to film-making. The score of the film is a masterpiece and deserves all the recognition it has gotten throughout the years.