Demetrius and The Gladiators

Gloria March

Continuing through the biblical epics, we come to Demetrius and the Gladiators, another film shot in CinemaScope and sequel to Fox's Biblical drama, The Robe.
The film follows Demetrius, a new Christian, who happens to own the former robe of Jesus Christ. Caligula, the emperor, wants it thinking it has mystical powers and stops at nothing to obtain it and ultimately condemns Demetrius to the gladiator arena.
Alfred Newman, who had composed the score for The Robe, was to return to score this film, but was indisposed of at the time. Enter German-American composer Franz Waxman.
Waxman had wanted to score a biblical epic and he jumped at  this first opportunity.
Waxman surprisingly, didn't craft a completely new score for the film. Instead he used several of Newman's themes (including Jesus Christ's theme).
The main titles is one of the highlights of the soundtrack. A brisk marching tune is joined with at first, wordless vocals, then with the choir pronouncing "gloria". Thus the rather fitting title; Gloria March.
Waxman also created several other marches for the film including, a march for the emperor, Caligula and a march for the gladiators (Heard in the cues, Caligula Enters and Gladiator March). Both of which are powerful noble, and stoic themes.
Messalina, the film's female antagonist, is given a theme with several different variations. One is a sultry flute theme (Messalina at Home), while the other is backed up by a haunting women's choir, harps, flutes and exotic percussion. It's definitely a mysterious, unnerving cue (Temple of Isis).  
The cue, Return to Faith, is a powerhouse! Demetrius who has rejected Christianity because of his anger at God for killing Lucia, now realizes his mistakes and ask for God to forgive him. One need only read the title and hear the music to figure out what is going on in Demetrius' mind.
Because of it, Demetrius is once again sentenced to the gladiator arena to face imminent death from a furious Caligula and Messalina.
The main titles play once again in the cue, Gloria, but this time the theme is bigger, and the choir announces in Latin, "Gloria, in excelsis deo!" Translated it means, Glory to God in the highest!
That, my friends, is an excellent way to end a biblical epic. That's Franz Waxman for you!

Rating: ***1/2

1 Comment:

  1. Alicia Willis said...
    Interesting. The temple music is definitely spooky. :) I don't think Rome had actually accepted that Egyptian goddesss yet, which is interesting.

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