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The Last Samurai

160 customer reviews

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Audio CD, November 25, 2003
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The Last Samurai + Gladiator + The Last Of The Mohicans: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description


Whether Tom Cruise's portrayal of a 19th century American soldier cum samurai warrior will be remembered with the same pangs of pop-cultural bemusement that befell John Wayne playing Genghis Khan remains to be seen. But its musical soundtrack does mark an auspicious occasion: pop musician-turned-composer Hans Zimmer's 100th score since beginning his film career in 1988. A pioneer of fusing both the electronic and orchestral and the Westernized with the indigenous, Zimmer does both here with skill, drawing heavily on samples of the traditional Taiko (a massive Japanese drum) for its rhythmic action sequences, while constructing a melodic Western motif for Cruise's character that's both centerpiece and counterpoint for the score's transcultural intent. Aside from the brief, ominous thunder of the expected action/suspense boilerplate, Zimmer has constructed passages of gentle, Asian-inflected pastoralism that have parallels with much of his evocative work on The Thin Red Line. Those cues are the score's very soul, a canvas against which his more traditional themes reverberate all the stronger. --Jerry McCulley

1. A Way Of Life
2. Spectres In The Fog
3. Taken
4. A Hard Teacher
5. To Know My Enemy
6. Idyll's End
7. Safe Passage
8. Ronin
9. Red Warrior
10. The Way Of The Sword
11. A Small Measure Of Peace

Product Details

  • Audio CD (November 25, 2003)
  • Original Release Date: December 5, 2003
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Elektra / Wea
  • Run Time: 154 minutes
  • ASIN: B0000DZTIW
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (160 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,798 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By "reel07" on December 8, 2003
Format: Audio CD
Zimmer's new score for the epic canvas of a film is truly a revelation. This is among Zimmer's finest music, though that is becoming a cliche these days with him. He just keeps getting better and better, borrowing from his old works, inverting them and turning them into something new and refreshing, but just new enough to know that what you're listening to is the great Hans Zimmer. This soundtrack brings to mind the vivid imagery of the film (the battlefields, colorful villages perched upon serene mountain tops, many other images reminiscent of Kurosawa's films), but even better, just like of Zimmer's other great works, the music has a life of its own. You can take this music and apply it to your own life.
Every track is fantastic. Each manages to have the reflective, weepy, and somber strings of "Thin Red Line" mixed in with the dramatic punches of "Pearl Harbor, Crimson Tide, Gladiator" and many of his other works. But those who loved the profound depth of "Thin Red Line" FANS WILL NOT BE DISSAPOINTED. The non-action music has the same beautiful melodies of his work from that soundtrack, except that it has its own distinct own voice. Zimmer sprinkles the entire soundtrack with wonderful flavors from Japan, but not too much. He applies just the right amount, without turning the music into stereotypical international fluff. He goes beyond the borders of cultures, just as he did in Thin Red Line, and finds that place that is within every person's soul and expresses it with his masterful command of strings.
The action cues are amazing. They are memorable and impossible to forget; very heroic and powerful without being too contrived. the bridge between track 10 and 11 sounds JUST like the bridge in THIN RED LINE tracks 8 and 9.
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58 of 70 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Christopher Coleman on April 7, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Last year was the year of big budget epics for Hollywood. No expense was spared for lavish spectacle, elaborate costuming, awe-inspiring battle scenes, and more. And Hollywood knows that in spite of tremendous attention to visuals, it can all fall flat without the right soundtrack. George Lucas even admitted that Star Wars would have been nothing without John Williams' music. Hans Zimmer, in his score to The Last Samurai proves once again he's one of the best film composers working today. He complements the visual and dramatic aspects of the film superbly, as in the track Spectres in the Fog. Listen, and you can practically picture the action, even if you've never seen the film. After an introduction featuring Japanese plucked strings, the opening is haunting and mysterious, from which emerges a heroic theme played in the horns.
I was interested to compare this soundtrack to that for another, contemporaneous "Big Spectacle" film-Lord of the Rings: the Return of the King, with music by Howard Shore. If you compare Spectres in the Fog to Shore's Minas Tirith, you'll hear that the gesture is identical--the emergence from a mysterious, static texture of a noble theme in the horns, accompanied by the drums of war. Both soundtracks owe much to the heritage of Richard Wagner and are practically textbooks in composing for film. Anyone interested in learning that art would do well to study them in detail. One significant difference between the two scores is the basic orchestration-naturally enough The Last Samurai includes Japanese instruments, and blends them beautifully with a Western orchestra.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Bram Janssen on January 14, 2004
Format: Audio CD
I find this to be a surprising Zimmer soundtrack. For a movie called "The Last Samurai" - and judging by the previews and posters that had been circulating - I had been expecting a cross of "Crimson Tide" and "Gladiator". Thoughtful, synthesizer-enforced music with occasional bouts of fanfare and bravado.
What I got instead was a beautiful, sensitive cross-section of "Braveheart" and "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon".
This is a new direction for Zimmer. Oh sure, he has done more than swirling action and mellow synthesizers in his career, but his music always had a heavy presence. A certain reverberation. This sound is also present here - it is his hallmark after all - but has a Zimmer score ever been quite this melodious and acoustic? This sensitive and elaborate?
Zimmer's most heard critique must be that, even though he writes top-notch themes, he does not elaborate on them. That he fills his soundtracks with sounds instead of compositions. Now buy this record and be convinced of the contrary.
The emotional and atmospheric quality of "The Last Samurai" aside, this record proves Hans Zimmer is capable of improving his composing-style.
That is why this one gets four stars.
Bram Janssen
The Netherlands
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Samir Dave on December 9, 2003
Format: Audio CD
I bought this soundtrack on the same day that I bought the Return of the King soundtrack and have been listening to both. Call me a bit biased, but Hans Zimmer's music has been something that I have grown up with and the Last Samurai Album packs an emotional wallop. The soundtrack is emotional and moody with tons of atmosphere. True, there are shades of Black Rain, which was also by Hans, but this album stands on its own, with just enough familiarity combined with the new. From Black Rain to A World Apart, to Rain Man, to the Lion King, to Gladiator, to The Last Samurai...Hans Zimmer packs an emotional punch with another soundtrack for our lives. After all...a sign of a good soundtrack is one that can be listened to without referencing the movie. Some soundtracks work that way....and some fall apart without the movie visuals....The Last Samurai has music that can stand apart from the movie....and touch your soul.
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