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Home > Film

Golden Balls

I wouldn’t have begrudged Elijah Wood “most persistent use of a single facial expression throughout an entire trilogy”. James Lark takes a swing at the Globes.

28 January 2004

I was as pleased as everybody else to see Ricky Gervais pick up two Golden Globes in America the other day. I’m not a huge aficionado of The Office – it always seemed to me to be a slightly inferior reworking of People Like Us, and it certainly doesn’t scale the heights of invention that its devoted fan following would claim. But its much-reported success made me glad all the same, largely because the euphoria it caused in this country meant that, for once, we all saw a little less of Peter Jackson.

The press has continually and tediously reported that this is Peter Jackson’s “year of recognition”. Recognition, presumably, for making some very long films based on some very long books, neither of which interest me in the slightest. I’m fed up of being told about how unbelievably brilliant the Lord of the Rings films are, when they’re patently not. They’re just unusually long and have a lot of elves in them.

Alfred Hitchcock once said “the length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder”. Mr Jackson is evidently not acquainted with this handy dictum. Either that, or the man’s bladder is made of steel. The accolades showered upon him are particularly irritating when his directing is, at best, adequate. “Oh, but the films look stunning!” I’ve been told. Oh, indeed – though one could argue that you’d have to be a fairly awful film director to make New Zealand look anything other than stunning, and all those aerial shots wouldn’t look out of place on National Geographic Channel. It’s that conventional.

Perhaps if they had Golden Globes for “most ridiculous walking foliage” I’d give the film more serious consideration as an award-winner. I wouldn’t have begrudged Elijah Wood “most persistent use of a single facial expression throughout an entire trilogy”. But Ricky Gervais aside, the Golden Globes were as predictable as ever, Peter Jackson and Return of the King snapping up several (as the DVD covers will no doubt proudly boast when they come out). I wasn’t surprised, just a little depressed by yet another publicity push for a film that really doesn’t need it, especially when there were more deserving candidates.

A greater injustice is that the award for Best Original Score was given to the relentlessly dull and mind-numbingly repetitive shopping centre musak that persists throughout the full four days (or however long it is) of Return of the King like a particularly remorseless hangover. That Howard Shore should get any recognition at all for this unimaginative rehash of his original score for The Fellowship of the Ring – itself an unimaginative rehash of every score by James Horner, who tends to get by on unimaginative rehashes of bits of music ditched by Danny Elfman for being too unimaginative – is proof that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association are no more clued up about the intricacies and subtleties of film-making than your average group of pre-teens lying about their age to waste five hours of their lives watching CGI effects battle with once-respectable British actors.

The Lord of the Rings soundtracks are crap. Crap crap crap crap crap. They fail to do what film soundtracks ought to do in numerous ways, and quite apart from that the music itself is badly-written tripe. But the Hollywood Foreign Press Association will have awarded it best original score because it’s probably the only soundtrack they actually noticed – because there’s so much of the bloody thing, and it sits in the film’s foreground saying “Listen to me!” in exactly the way that film soundtracks really shouldn’t (unless it’s Mary Poppins).

You can see the judges scratching their heads and saying to each other “Best original score – which films had an original score?” “I only noticed music in Lord of the Rings.” “Gee, I reckon you’re right – think the other directors just didn’t bother putting music in their films this year?” “Whoah! hold on…there was that scene in Cold Mountain where they were all singing in the church.” “You’re right – gee, that was awful, you could hear Nicole Kidman all close up and out of tune.” “Yeah – reckon Lord of the Rings has a lot more going for it than that out of tune singing in the church…”

And so the perfect synthesis of music and cinema achieved by proper composers such as Gabriel Yared or Thomas Newman, or by the few impressive directors like Robert Rodriguez who pen their own scores, goes unrecognised. Of course, not every film requires the same level of musical ingenuity displayed by these people – but if the Golden Globes are about rewarding more obvious, populist work, they could at least have given Best Original Score to Klaus Badelt for his deliciously camped-up contribution to Pirates of the Caribbean. Which had cannons and everything.

But not Howard Shore. Again. Howard Shore who still thinks he’s onto a pretty cool thing because he’s discovered the minor chord. Wow! A minor chord. A LOUD minor chord. Sung by a CHOIR! How EXCITING!

Bloody Howard bloody Shore. Bet he gets an Oscar as well. (Another Oscar).

James Lark works for a Blairite quango.

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