CD Review: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Based on the popular video game series, PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME is likely going to be lost in the sands of time if the film’s meager box office receipts are any indication. Are audiences not accepting Jake Gyllenhaal as an adventure hero, much less a prince (though he look uncannily like the video character)? Or is the idea of a dagger capable of reversing time more acceptable in the world of video games than a feature film? Whatever the reason(s), time is running out for this expensive Disney bomb.

One of the few things that has gotten decent buzz from the film, at least within the film music community, is the score by Harry Gregson-Williams. With the word “Persia” in the title, you can pretty much predict what the music is going to sound like. The Middle Eastern orchestrations are out in full force, and fans of this type of music should be pleased.

Gregson-Williams channels his inner Maurice Jarre on the memorable main theme. While it bears more than a little resemblance to LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, it will be hard to get out of your head. Surprisingly, the score features equally fine secondary themes, including a particularly lovely string theme in “The King and His Sons.”

Prince of Persia - The Sands of Time soundtrack
“The Prince of Persia”
“Raid on Alamut”

But it’s the action cues where Gregson-Williams excels. Energetic tracks like “Tastan and Damina Escape,” “The Sands of Time,” and the delightful but all too brief “Ostrich Race” capture the adventure of the story, even if they all eventually blend into one another. Probably the strongest action cue is the first on the CD. In “Raid on Alamut,” strings swirl like the desert sands, the percussion hammer out a feverish 16th-note beat, and the chorus and wailing soloist contribute to the exciting mix.

I’m not a big fun of the rock elements prevalent in tracks like “Visions of Death” and “So You’re Going to Help Me?,” but the score stays away from them for the most part. I also wish the score hadn’t fallen victim to the plague of dialing up the percussion, as so many contemporary scores do.

I’m of two minds about the score. Overall, the music is well-crafted and probably serves its purpose within the film just fine. One by one, the tracks are interesting and engaging. But the electronic sheen that blankets the music creates a distance between the score and the listener. And by the end of the CD, the score is awash in Middle Eastern harmonies and one track begins to sound much the same as any other.

Still, there’s that main theme, and a damn good one it is too.

  1. Perhaps because I had quite low expectations, I liked this one a lot. It is much better than his Narnia scores and the development of the main theme over the course of the album is done really well IMO. I didn’t like the electronics either, but I guess they can be seen as a nod towards the synth-heavy game scores. Thankfully it’s mostly orchestral.

    1. I too appreciate that it’s mostly orchestral. I listened to this one over and over, wanting to like it more. It just didn’t. A solid score though.

  2. Hi Jim, I agree with your assessment of the score. I would also rate it a three star score. It has a good theme, but overall the score isn’t anything outstanding especially considering other standout releases this year such as How to Train Your Dragon.

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  4. i was bowled over by this film – I think the score is wonderful and the movie itself absolutely amazing

    it’s the perfect action romance movie in my book – perfectly cast, superb story, great acting (it’s not Henry V, but for this genre it’s great)

    Gemma Arterton as Tamina is hotter than the desert sands

    And Ben Kingsley is so sly and devilish as the king’s advisor – a real life Jafar!

    Prince of Persia moves to the #1 spot on my action romance movie list! (sorry Indiana Jones – sorry Star Wars)

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