Midway through production of the Viking drama The 13th Warrior
, writer Michael Crichton jettisoned director John McTiernan and took over the production himself. At that time, he also ousted composer Graeme Revell
in favor of the legendary Jerry Goldsmith, clearly anticipating an epic score in the mold of past Goldsmith classics like Patton
and Planet of the Apes
. But the end result is a frustrating work hampered by Goldsmith's frustrating reticence to allow his imagination to run wild. As Crichton's liner notes state, "We know nothing about what Viking music was like, which meant Jerry would have to invent it," but his innovations prove surprisingly tepid, employing wordless chanting and primitive drumming but not much else. Goldsmith remains a master of large-scale drama, crafting dark, powerful themes like "The Fire Dragon" and "The Horns of Hell," but there's little that makes The 13th Warrior
a truly unique entry in his large catalog.