WHO SHOULD DO THE MUSIC FOR BEN-HUR?

With the Ben-Hur remake less than a year away it shouldn’t be long before we start to see some official promotional things released.  It is hard to say when exactly because we do not know the marketing strategy they will be going with.  I can tell you that I expect a trailer around the end of August or the beginning of September.  If we get a trailer before then, it is my guess (and only my guess) that the studio likes what they have been seeing and have decided to market it more aggressively.  It is also my guess (and only my guess) that if we do not see a trailer by mid-September that the studio does not like what they are seeing.  However, even in this worst case scenario it doesn’t mean we will get a bad film, World War Z was doctored from its original cut and became a critical and financial success, the same story goes for recent hit Mad Max: Fury Road, which was tested with audiences and had many unfavorable reviews which prompted reshoots and resulted in a critical and financial success.

With that said, I was reminded about a bit of information that should be coming out about the film any day now.  A few weeks ago I pulled out the original score to the 1959 Ben-Hur.  That score was amazing, not just for its time but it was large, and epic like so few films of its time.  I have said in other posts that whoever is hired to score this film will have a daunting task ahead of them and I believe that now more than ever.  There is one composer that has been rumored to be the one, but it is a small rumor with absolutely no credible source attached to it.  Yet, I still believe this rumor will be confirmed true in the next few days.  I have decided to make a list of the composers I would like to see tackle the project then I will reveal who is rumored.

  1. Hans Zimmer – It has become somewhat frustrating for me in recent years to tell people that I am a Hans Zimmer fan. You see, if you ask most movie fans today who their favorite composer is they will say either Hans Zimmer, or if they are a little older they might say John Williams.  John Williams used to be the guy everyone said but the tides are changing as John Williams fades into retirement (with one last outing on Star Wars.) However, I remember a time when I would tell people that I loved Hans Zimmers music and they would either say “Who?” or they would argue that John Williams was better.  As a teenager I began buying movie scores… after my fourth one I realized that the composers name was the same on every one of them.  Long before The Dark Knight or even Pirates of the Caribbean I already had on my CD shelf The Rock, Gladiator and Pearl Harbor.  It should come as no surprise to anyone that when I heard that Superman was getting a reboot I hoped and prayed that Hans Zimmer would do a brand new theme… and he did… and it was among his best work.  This is what I would want from him if he got the job composing Ben-Hur… but.. the chances are practically zero that he is the composer.  He is already very wrapped up in the DC Comics movies, not to mention that he is so popular that if he was the guy, we would have heard already.
  2. Ramin Djawadi – I am not even going to try to say I was a fan of his before everyone else. Ramin gained fans from doing the music on Game Of Thrones, a show I have never seen, nor do I intend too.  My introduction to him was with the first Iron Man movie.  There was one song on that score that as soon as I heard it the first time I watched the film I realized I needed the CD.  Since then I have been getting his music as much as I can one of my favorites being the Pacific Rim score.  I know what you might be thinking; Ben-Hur is nothing like Iron Man or Pacific Rim.  The scores are too technology driven.  Well, since I have started listening to Ramin, even though I do not watch Game Of Thrones, I have heard the music… and it is that score that makes me sure that Ramin could give us a fantastic Ben-Hur score.  It would go without saying that since I think Hans Zimmer is the best out there and I would want from him the best he has ever done, I would want Ramin to blow me away in a way that his other scores have never done before!
  3. Steve Jablonsky – These last three could very well be tied for third in my mind. Each one of them have done great works but each one of them have not done enough to tell me that it would be a sure thing to get a fantastic score from them.  Yet, when I sat and thought about it, Steve would edge out the last two for me.  He has done great work with the Transformer franchise.  Try to not let the horrible movies fool you.  They are awful movies with a fantastic score! But, my favorite of his, and the one that helped put him on my list is the work he did with Ender’s Game.  I may have loved the movie but if I had to choose between never seeing the film again or never hearing the score… I would bid a final farewell to the film because I just need to have that score in my car. If Steve Joblonshy got the job I would be slightly nervous… but extremely hopeful!
  4. Ed Shearmur – I am sure that this is a choice out of left field for some. You might not have any clue who he is or what he has done.  You might feel there are a ton of other names I could have put on this list… and you would be right, but it is my list.  You might wonder why John Williams didn’t make it by now, but the guy came out of retirement for Star Wars, he wasn’t planning on scoring anymore.  Ed Shearmur has done many films, but there is only one film he has done that has captured me enough for me to hope he would be considered for this job.  He is the composer of the score for The Count of Monte Cristo, a movie that is thematically similar to Ben-Hur and a film that has such a beautiful score that I could just listen to it for days.  There is no guarantee that we would get a similarly beautiful score for Ben-Hur but the similarities in the stories make me want to give him a shot.  I would want him to take his time and give me something just as special as he gave to Kevin Reynolds for the Count.  You could certainly argue with me and I would have nothing more to stand on other than “come on! Listen to the Count of Monte Cristo score!”
  5. Junkie XL (Tom Holkenborg) – A relative newcomer to the movie score composing business he has already made a bit of a name for himself.  The only reason he is not higher on this list is because there isn’t a very large sample of his work.  However, he is a student of Hans Zimmer, and he has collaborated on a few Zimmer scores including the Man of Steel score which is one of my favorites.  This would have been a good enough reason to put him on this list, but just recently he scored Mad Max: Fury Road.  The score he did for that film, though I would not want the same for Ben-Hur, was perfect for Mad Max.  It was large in scale and bold, just what I would want for Ben-Hur.  I have confidence he could do the job, I do not know if he could do it better than the others on this list but I would be more than happy to let him try.

This is the list of who I would want to see get the job.  However, I did say that I would share who is being rumored to do the score.  As I mentioned, Han Zimmer is busy, and Ramin Djawardi is currently busy scoring the Warcraft film about to come out in 2016.  That would pretty much rule both of them out.  Though Steve Jablonsky is possible I do feel he is unlikely and Ed Shearmur is so out of left field I highly doubt he is even a thought in anyone else’s mind besides mine.  A very small rumor has risen up that Junkie XL has landed the job.  So far the only source I could find was a music company making a Facebook comment saying such.  I have also seen it on Wikipedia but it could simply be the same people posting it on Facebook who have decided to edit Wikipedia.  Given that he is an up and coming star and he has worked with Hans Zimmer (who did the music for the Bible miniseries for the same producers as Ben-Hur) I find this rumor very possible and am pretty much expecting this to be the case.  Though he wouldn’t be my first choice, I am positive Junkie XL will give us something good… my only fear is that it won’t be GREAT like the 1959 version was.  I will be sure to post when I hear any confirmation on who will be writing the score.

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2 thoughts on “WHO SHOULD DO THE MUSIC FOR BEN-HUR?

  1. Troy, movie scores are fantastic to read with, write with, and even drive too…. although listening to the Mad Max score after watching the movie made me a little paranoid on the road. I could obviously recommend some scores to start you off with but everyone’s tastes are different. My favorite has been Gladiator (however, if you decide to get this soundtrack, make sure you get the two disc set because the best songs are on the second disc) Man of Steel has also reached that level for me. The Pacific Rim score is awesome to drive too and I have had it playing in my car when non-movie fans have been riding with me and they always ask me who it is…. they want to know what rock band it is and they get confused when I say its the Pacific Rim score.

    Something else to keep in mind is that you can have fantastic scores with horrible movie. I said that with Transformers but one of my favorite scores is Danny Elfman’s score for the Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes, a movie surly lacking… but that score is fantastic.

    It is also important to note what kind of music you like, I love all kinds but if you really aren’t a fan of heavy guitar riffs then you probably wouldn’t like the Pacific Rim soundtrack. If you can’t stand violin music then you probably wont appreciate the hauntingly beautiful Ender’s Game score.

    I will add a few links to some of my favorite songs that I have mentioned here or in my blog.

    (Pacific Rim) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vU7XqToZso
    (Planet of the Apes) https://youtu.be/rHxUp4j9bnc?list=PLOmnuuJJJo2EgkXA2hxtVZ-DeHqIYZS3N
    (Enders Game) https://youtu.be/uwOZ8XjDE-A?list=PLoH10AkwkcU_lvLyaXPoRlAMA304SwwkX
    (Count of Monte Cristo) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKurYMe1Ba8
    (Gladiator) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tctHX47MeGY
    (Man of Steel) https://youtu.be/wlfCFbI8D0k?list=PLOvS7u6gWgBWK8-7w6iqRwla9Ld8HvOFD
    (Mad Max: Furry Road) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgYnKu8RYAU

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