The Count of Monte Cristo by Ed Shearmur


One of my favorite books and movies is also one of my favorite scores of the past ten years.  This film was directed by Kevin Reynolds (who also made Robin Hood).  Ed Shearmur delivers the full adventure in this emotional, dramatic, and action-packed score. It’s been copied in scores like Pirates of the Caribbean and Avatar, but this is the real deal.

One of the many highlights is Escape from the Island.  Shearmur underscores the inner drama and suspense so perfectly.  Beat by beat, the music builds, starting with Edmand Dante lamenting the death of Abbe Faria.  The moment he figures out how to escape, everything winds down and the celli make a perfect entrance hitting Dante’s inner thoughts in a classic moment where camera, performance and music work together in harmony for a an unforgettable cinema moment.  I would encourage anyone interested in film scoring to look at that whole sequence and how it’s scored.  The orchestra starts growing with a delicious interplay between crispy brass jabs and string arpeggios as the prison guards carry Dante’s body out and throw him over the cliff into the ocean.  There’s a suffocating struggle under water until finally the breath of air is inhaled with the reintroduction of Monte Cristo’s noble and innocent theme on French Horn and then trumpet, which we haven’t heard since he was first taken prisoner. The metaphor of course is his rebirth as a new person when he emerges from the water.  This is film music at its best.

Anyway, I’m focusing on a small section in a perfect whole.  The album is a great listening experience, especially if you’ve seen the film.  I recommend this to anyone who loves a good classic. 

Here are a couple of tracks on YouTube:


Training Montage



Total Recall by Jerry Goldsmith

Continuing where I left off last week…


This 1990 Paul Verhoven/Arnold Schwarzenegger sci-fi presents Jerry Goldsmith’s busiest and most action-packed score.  It may not be for everyone, but if you like aggressive non-stop action with odd metering and lots of detailed writing and cool musical shifts, this is the ultimate action score.  In fact, this score was so difficult to play that after a day of recording in Munich, Goldsmith put the brakes on and took the recording to London’s National Philharmonic Orchestra.  It also showcases Jerry’s best use of electronics combined with orchestra.  Here’s a great sampler on YouTube.  This score demonstrates why most fellow composers consider Jerry Goldsmith the greatest action film composer of all time. 

Here’s the amazing Extended edition album from my favorite music label, Varese Sarabande