The Hobbit: An Unexpected Score

The HobbitHere it is, my initial thoughts about the score for the first installment of The Hobbit—An Unexpected Journey—with Howard Shore back in the role as the composer. Going straight for the extended Special Edition version of the soundtrack, I sat down and listened for two full hours. Then I listened to the regular version to see if that would make a different experience. It didn’t. Both versions start pleasantly enough with reminiscences of Baggins and the previous trilogy, with a mellow, nostalgic and sentimental sound. After that the music goes on and on and on without really reaching any high point. Of course, the music has its moments, but I was disappointed at their sparsity and short durations.

I wouldn’t describe myself as a die hard fan of the previous trilogy, but I’m certainly not among the purists who automatically denounce a movie if it doesn’t follow the book to the letter. The movie version of The Fellowship of the Ring was especially enjoyable, and I listened a lot to its soundtrack which still ranks highly with me. My only quibble was that some of the best themes were underused. In The Hobbit, the best themes are rehashes from the previous trilogy. However, I also noticed some influence from Shore’s score to the 2004 Scorsese picture The Aviator, which was a pleasant surprise. Compared to the Fellowship soundtrack, The Hobbit is less inspired and elaborate with a larger portion of uninteresting background music, and gives a less coherent listening experience.

In a recent interview the movie’s director Peter Jackson made a slip of the tongue and disclosed that he’s tired of Tolkien’s universe, and apparently some fatigue has also crept into the score. To Mr. Shore’s defense it was a near impossible task to meet the high expectations after his solid scores for the LOTR-trilogy, and his work on The Hobbit is still better than much of recent film music. The problem is the feeling of having heard most of it before.

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4 Responses to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Score

  1. Naadim says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more. The score is tired, a rehashing of tunes from the original trilogy, with much bland filler. Uninspired, it is barely saying anything new.

  2. Travis Peter Jackson says:

    His skill is always great, and his ability to arrange unparalleled, but everyone seems to say as I think in this case, that Inspiration wasn’t with the team as for LOTR, and other than the Misty Mountains Theme, there are only LOTR themes and atmospheric moment filler in between. I knew this would happen, seeing that all too many other things were needed for this film. I have all sorts of musical ideas that have grown in me since after Return of the King, which a select few have heard and thought of while they watched the films, and one said he wished they could revise the first film, blend my music into Shore’s so that the two feelings of two different times mesh one into the next, and there being an older and a newer version of the same movie that others could compare for generations to come, causing all the more sales as a result.
    Ah well.

  3. Delfina Schlein says:

    I consider Lord of the Rings to be among the finest cinematic achievements in motion picture history. As for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the closest approximation is The Phantom Menace. I liked The Phantom Menace back in May 1999 and I still do (in defense of… ). But I now know exactly how those who disliked or hated Episode One felt on that fateful evening 12.5 years ago. I feel your pain, for now it is my pain as well.”

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