3. Man with No Name Trilogy
Also known as the “Dollars Trilogy” this consists of the three Sergio Leone directed films A Fistful of Dollars, A Few Dollars More and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. These are the three films that essentially started the popular sub genre of the “spaghetti western” which consisted of western films that were mainly directed and produced by Italians. The films each had their soundtracks composed by Ennio Morricone who has done over 500 scores for film and television along with over 100 classical pieces. Despite this rich backlog of work, none stands out more than his work on these films which became iconic and are still seen today as the quintessential western tracks. Interesting Morricone was not given the budget to access a full orchestra so instead he had to get creative; in place of many of the instruments he used voices, whistles, cracking whips and even gunshots along with a variety of unusual instruments. Rather than hindering the final product these actually became the most memorable things about it, discerning it from others.
2. Star Wars
No top list is complete without the works of arguably the most influential composer in cinematic history, John Williams. Realistically you could fill this entire list with his works, having composed the scores for films like Jaws, Superman, Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones and the Harry Potter films along with many more. None of his works however are more varied and rich than his music for the Star Wars franchise. As soon as the first film begins and the premise begins trawling up the screen we are hit with one of cinemas most memorable theme tunes that’ll raise the hairs on the back of your neck even now. The music has the power of the most bodacious classical hits whilst still feeling at home in the depths of the sci-fi fantasy genre. Here Williams uses leitmotifs, giving each character their own theme and each is just as recognisable as the last, which is reflected in the scores success. To this day it remains the highest grossing non-popular music recording of all time.
1. The Lord of the Rings
Though the Star Wars films show us a great example of the use of leitmotifs, the adaptation of the immensely popular series of novels by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings trilogy is truly the king of them. The soundtrack was composed by Howard Shore who used these leitmotifs to represent the characters, places and cultures of ‘Middle Earth’, the result was the largest catalogue of them in cinematic history with around 100 different ones. Obviously, quantity isn’t always everything but Shore backs up this number with consistent quality in every tune that creates the details that would perhaps be lost in the books adaptation otherwise. Throughout the films we feel the full range of emotions present, laughs, love, hate, anger, relief and of course sadness. To create music for some of the world’s most adored books is likely a daunting task but Shore met the challenge with a quality and attention to detail that is still unmatched today, and likely will be for a long time to come.