by Dan Goldwasser
The idea of a score being rejected from a feature film is anything but new. Sometimes the score is tossed out altogether; Lalo Schifrin's score to The Exorcist was quite literally thrown out into the street outside of Todd AO. Other times, even though a score gets rejected, bits of it remain. Craig Armstrong's rejected score to Tomb Raider 2 had one track stay in the film, and supposedly an Alan Silvestri cue remains in Something's Gotta Give. Even rarer, a score is used overseas, but not domestically, such as the case of Jerry Goldsmith's score to Legend, which was used in Europe, but replaced by Tangerine Dream here in the States.
Rejected scores are always considered soundtrack collector's "gold" - and it's no surprise that many times, scores that have been recorded - and then rejected - make their way out to the public either through promos or bootlegs. There are times, however, that a rejected score will get a legitimate release, depending on who own the rights to the music. Elmer Bernstein's rejected score to Last Man Standing was released, as well as John Ottman's Cruel Intentions score, (which yours truly helped release). Later this year, we reportedly will see the release of Jerry Goldsmith's unused score to Timeline released through Varese Sarabande. (Please note that Goldsmith's score was not "rejected" per se; he simply was unable to return to the film to make additional changes to the score, and the filmmakers ended up going with another composer.)
One rejected score that has been getting a lot of attention lately and has not been released is Gabriel Yared's unused score to Troy. And if there is any score this year that deserves a soundtrack release, this is certainly one of them.
I will readily admit that when I first heard that Yared was to score Troy, a big battle epic film, I was skeptical. I even suggested to my friends and colleagues that he wouldn't last - and when it was reported that Yared's score indeed had been rejected, I wasn't surprised. That is, until I heard the sound clips on Gabriel's website (http://www.gabrielyared.com/). Only then did I realize that Yared's score to Troy was not only one of the best scores possible for the film, but it also is one of the best scores I've heard in a long time.
SoundtrackNet got exclusive access to a promo CD of Yared's score, courtesy of Yared and his agent in Los Angeles. After listening to it, I'm convinced that there is something terribly wrong with the way films are previewed in Hollywood. According to Yared, his score was removed after a negative test screening of the film in which a complaint was that his score was too "old-fashioned". Ironic, considering it's a film that takes place 3,200 years ago. In fact, Yared's score draws much inspiration from Holst's "Mars" (from "The Planets"), which was the same source as much of Hans Zimmer's score to Gladiator.
"Approach of the Greeks" starts out the album with a low drum roll and ominous horns that introduce pounding drums of war, which build with a string ostinato into an outburst of chorus and brass. It's dark, powerful, and the ostinato keeps building. It's very classically written, almost like the "Carmina Burana", or Mozart's Requiem. There's some rhythmic brass in there right out of Holst's "Mars", and by the time the track ends, we've been introduced to the Greeks in the most visceral and up-front way possible. With a 25-piece brass section, this is some powerful horn work.
"Achilles Destiny" is an uplifting heroic track with choir and brass that has a bit of foreboding to it, but ends with an almost religious triumphant climax that references the dark ostinato heard in the first track. According to Yared, the lyrics are meaningless but sonorous, so it ends up sounding like it's something ancient. "Opening" starts out soft female vocals, provided by a Bulgarian choir, and a soft emotional love theme that we'll hear as the score progresses. When the main title comes up on screen, the choir swells with the orchestra. It's definitely "old-fashioned", but I hardly see that as being a detriment. There's a big brass theme for Achilles that we hear in "Achilles & Boagrius".
Yared is no stranger to sweeping romanticism, and yet he chose the love theme for "Helen & Paris" to be a more intimate one, only hinting at the possibility of a stronger sweeping melody to come later. "Achilles & Briseis" provides another love theme that is lyrical and beautiful to hear. As one would expect by the title, "D-Day Battle" is a cacophonous cue with brass heralding the arrival of the Greeks. A brass version of the opening ostinato makes a powerful appearance here, with plenty of action music encompassing it. It's truly a powerhouse cue. There are source cues on the album as well. "Sparta" is filled with ethnic percussion and a very eastern Mediterranean melody. "Mourning Women" is a rather unique wailing cue with soloist Tanja Tzarovska (who would also perform on James Horner's replacement score) and the Bulgarian choir.
"Battle of the Arrows" is a heart-pounding action cue that actually evokes some memories of the chord clusters from Gladiator, but these tense moments bounce between various versions of the ostinato. This is one of the two huge action cues on the disc that demand your attention, the other being "The Sacking of Troy". "Greek Funeral Pyres" is a dark cue with low chanting that hints at the acts of revenge that the Greeks will be unleashing upon the Trojans.
"Achilles & Hector Fight" is a largely percussive cue (again interesting how Horner's score mirrors this approach) for the duel between these two warriors. And then it's over, we have the female vocals again, with small shades of Achilles' theme. But the wailing returns with "Hector's Funeral", a truly anguished vocal track that emotes plenty of pain and suffering. The ostinato returns in full form during "The Sacking of Troy". This feels like, as Yared says on his website, an "epic Cantata". The climax of the film takes place during this track, and concludes with "Achilles Death". The combined time of 16-minutes for these two tracks makes it quite an emotional journey, ranging from full-on action, to sad emotional conclusions.
The album ends with an "End Title Song" based on the love theme between Helen and Paris, sung by Tzarovska, who appropriately enough, wrote lyrics in Macedonian. No translation is available, but it's certainly a more interesting and beautiful song than "Remember Me", which in retrospect now feels like a marketing tool. It is a shame that none of this remained in the film. While I felt that James Horner's score to Troy worked fine for the film, it never stood out as anything monumental. Yared's unused version, however, accomplishes that quite easily. It is without a doubt one of the best pieces of music I've heard in a while.
Yared's score to Troy was never completed. They never finished mixing many of the tracks, and of the two-hours of score, only about 80 minutes have been put to bed. The rights of the score remain with Warner Brothers, who produced the film. As a stand-alone piece of music, this album is an excellent listen. If Varese Sarabande is able to work out a deal to release a union-recorded score such as Timeline with Paramount Pictures, I'm sure that somehow, someone out there will be able to release Yared's score to Troy, which was recorded overseas.
There is an online petition asking for the score to be released, or put back into the film for DVD. A fascinating idea would be to provide Yared's score as an alternate track, mixed into the film, so people can hear both versions. I doubt it would happen, but it's nice to dream! Meanwhile, SoundtrackNet strongly urges you to go to Gabriel Yared's website and listen to the sound clips. Make up your own mind. Then if you're so inclined, sign the petition. (http://www.petitiononline.com/gyared/petition.html)
Most times when scores are released it's because they don't work with the film. In the case of Troy, I'm convinced that it was due to a shoddy test-audience making creative decisions. I can't but see how this score would have worked in the film, and all I can picture it doing is elevating it to a better level. Providing more emotion and depth where the film was lacking. That Yared's score might never be heard is a shame, and I hope for the benefit of our readers that a soundtrack album, at the very least, will be forthcoming in the months ahead.
Gabriel Yared's Troy
1. Approach of the Greeks (2:30)
2. Achilles Destiny (5:42)
3. Opening (3:57)
4. Achilles & Boagrius (3:46)
5. Sparta (1:59)
6. Helen & Paris (1:44)
7. D-Day Battle (4:53)
8. 7000 Ships (3:36)
9. Mourning Women (1:25)
10. Achilles & Briseis (5:31)
11. Battle of the Arrows (7:11)
12. Greek Funeral Pyres (2:19)
13. Hector, Hector! (3:38)
14. Achilles & Hector Fight (4:38)
15. Hector's Funeral (2:24)
16. The Sacking of Troy (7:48)
17. Achilles Death (8:48)
18. End Title Song (4:36)
Special thanks to Gabriel Yared
Update: the sound clips have been removed...