This could be the year of the “King.”
Peter Jackson recently picked up the Golden Globe for best picture and director for “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” after being nominated yet shut out for the first two films in the trilogy. Composer Howard Shore picked up two Globes for score and original song for “Into the West,” which he wrote with Annie Lennox and “King” screenwriter Fran Walsh.
And once again, Jackson and Shore will be heading to the Academy Awards. The first two installments of “Rings” were nominated for best picture, and Jackson was nominated for directing 2001’s “The Fellowship of the Ring.” Shore won the Oscar for his “Fellowship of the Ring” original score.
Jackson says the awards buzz and accolades are a celebration of the seven years he worked on the “Rings” trilogy and the four years Shore devoted to the scores.
“I have no musical ability at all,” Jackson says. “I can’t even hum in tune. I’m tone deaf. I can’t play an instrument, and yet I try to convey ideas to Howard. And he’s incredibly nice in the way that the doesn’t make fun of me, and he patiently listens to me try to describe what my thoughts are.”
Thankfully, after their lengthy collaboration, Jackson adds: “Howard gets it so quickly now. I can sort of wave my hands around and say, ‘It’s sort of like this,’ and he looks at my fingers wiggling the air and kind of understands what I’m trying to communicate.”
Music is the soul of the film
Shore spend about four months doing research before writing a single note of music. “I had to learn a lot,” the composer says. “I had read the (J.R.R.) Tolkien books in the 1960s, and I was a fan. But I had to read them many times again and think about how to capture the story in music. I had to understand ring mythology and the influences that led up to Tolkien writing the books in the 1940s, what happened after he published it and the influence it had on our culture. Once having done that, I put everything aside and had to think about what I had to say about it.”
As a result, Jackson says Shore’s music has become synonymous with the soul of the films.
“For each of the films, we wanted the journey of the film to pass through various musical stages so that they had a uniqueness to themselves,” Jackson says. “The Gondorian music, the themes he developed for ‘Return of the King’ are very much based on this Romanesque ancient city. But we wanted the music to reflect the faded grandeur of the city that has long since passed its prime. It’s decaying, there’s no king there. He took so much inspiration off of everything on the screen, it gives the film the unity where the music supports the pictures and the pictures support the music.”
Of the song “Into the West,” Shore says Lennox was at the top of both his and Walsh’s wish list for possible singer/collaborators. Shore says he wrote Lennox a letter and immediately began to work on musical themes with her voice in mind. Lennox turned out to be a fan of the films and was enthused by the song idea. After months of work, the trio created “Into the West.”
Shore’s “Rings” duties are not done quite yet. He’s working on an extended “King” score for Jackson’s longer cut of the film, and he’s planning an international tour in which he’ll conduct the “Lord of the Rings Symphony: Six Movements for Orchestra and Chorus.”
Of the success of “Rings,” Jackson says, “It’s gone way beyond what you would have ever dared think about.”