LORD OF THE RINGS with the Dallas Pops


By Gary Murray

Starring The Dallas Pops

Conducted by Justin Freer

Music by Howard Shore

Some consider Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy to be the greatest movies ever made.  The J.R.R. Tolkien series of novels has sold millions of copies since the 1950s and have influenced hundreds of writers over the decades.  The story is of a Frodo, a hobbit who must take ring of destiny to the lava fires in which it was forged.  It is the ring that controls all the other rings and contains mystical powers.  Along the way, Frodo makes friends and has many adventures, finding courage along the journey.  The story has thrilled a generation of readers and has been adapted in different ways. 

Peter Jackson was one of those readers of the original novels and he painstakingly took the books and made one of the most precisely correct versions of an adaptation.  The Dallas Pops Orchestra under the baton of Justin Freer is taking the Academy Award winning score by Howard Shore and performing it live while the film plays in the background.  It is the first time the work has been executed live while the film is shown.

The stage was jam packed with two hundred musicians and chorale.  The players were seasoned veterans and younger players who seemed more at home with a backpack than a violin case.  On the back wall was a giant projection screen with The Lord of the Rings logo blazing in the background. 

The main theme fills the chambers as the credits spill forth.  What is usually a background in the cinematic experience becomes the focus.  One notices that music is a part of almost every frame of the feature.  There are themes that repeat during the action sequences and themes that suggest different characters and areas.  Both Bilbo and Frodo have different note themes that meld together when the two actors are on screen.  At the end, the entire chorale joins in.  Soloist vocal Clara Sanabras sings the Enya inspired main theme to a roaring applause.

The film culminates with the different characters having to go their separate ways to Mordor.  One of the irritating aspects of the presentation is that The Fellowship of the Ring is just the first part of the trilogy. Even though the orchestra has played for almost all of the three hours, the audience wants to see the next part of the adventure.  By watching just this beginning 1/3, it leaves a wanting feeling. 

The problem with presenting the score while the film is playing is in the focus.  When one gets involved in the action of the movie, watching the orchestra becomes secondary in nature.  When the audience focuses on the stunning playing of the orchestra, one loses the details of the cinematic story.  Switching back and forth by what is going on in front of the screen and what is being projected on the screen leaves the audience taxed. 

If someone is looking for a different cinematic experience, The Lord of the Rings with the Dallas Pops is a very enjoyable evening.  It is a very diverse way to experience a newly classic bit of cinema.

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