The Fellowship of the Ring, the first film in the Lord of the Ring’s movie trilogy, provided gamers with what they’ve always wanted: a great, glorious movie capturing fantastic adventures on the big screen. It’s offers a cinematic backdrop for all future dungeon crawls, helping to focus the mind’s eye on exactly what a horde of orcs might look like … or how rings of invisibility might work.
The soundtrack does the same for gamers’ ears.
Almost Perfect Musical Fantasy
Watching the movie, I noticed the music, but wasn’t compelled or entranced by it, not like with Star Wars or Harry Potter. The film’s score complemented — but didn’t compete with — the onscreen action, and was ultimately overshadowed by the movie’s visuals. Perhaps I would have paid more attention to the score if — like my friends — I had seen it upwards of six times, but as is I didn’t notice it again until one Saturday in February, when a friend popped in the soundtrack during an all-day gaming fest.
We were playing at a friend’s house in Delaware, having road-tripped there from Pennsylvania intent on fighting one of our D&D campaign’s most epic battles, the Second Battle of the Lea.
The party — almost all high-level adventurers — were engaging a war band of fire giants intent on destroying the human settlement of the Lea.
The music was perfect. Well, almost perfect. The opening track, “The Prophesy”, was suitably ominous as the party contemplated the upcoming battle, and began to lay their plans.
“A Knife in the Dark” — filled with striking rising movements and slightly nerve-racking choral exclamations — nicely complemented a sneak attack by psionics-wielding, teleportation-using derro. “Flight to the Ford” — which begins mellow but rises to a striking climax — and the dramatic, horn-filled “Bridge at Khazad Dun — nicely heralded the thunder claps and explosions of ice that accompanied the Blackrazor Guild’s assault on their fire giant enemies.
I say that the soundtrack is “almost perfect”. The second track, “Concerning Hobbits” is a whimsical, fantastical ditty that is the antithesis of dungeon-crawling, orc-hacking, dragon-slaying mayhem that accompanies most epic RPG battles. It’s not my cup of tea from a non-gaming standpoint either — a little too light and frilly for my liking, but then again I’m the kind of guy who could listen to “Duel of the Fates” from Phantom Menace for hours on end.
The “Council of Elrond” is the album’s Enya track, so those who aren’t fans of the New Age diva probably won’t appreciate it. “Breaking of the Fellowship” features a boy’s choir, and while it’s wholly appropriate for the movie’s end, it doesn’t quite work as background music for your average D&D game.
These are only three tracks out of 17 though. The rest provide exactly the sort of low-level background music that RPG geeks have been hungering for and should finally give everyone’s copy of the Conan the Barbarian soundtrack a well-deserved rest.
- The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Soundtrack
- Label: Reprise / Wea
- Release Date: November 20, 2001
- Buy from Amazon.com