Gladiator is, in this blogger's humble opinion, one of the best movies ever made. It's full of historical inaccuracies as only Hollywood can provide, but taken as a fiction rather than a history, this is a weakness it easily escapes. One of its truly outstanding features is, without doubt, its award-winning soundtrack: a collaborative effort between composer Hans Zimmer and vocalist Lisa Gerrard.

Zimmer's greatest specific triumph has to be the "battle theme" from the opening scene. It captures perfectly the conflicting aspects of civility and barbarism that were at the heart of the Roman empire: civilisation through brutal, bloody war. It is not necessary to understand how this is achieved in order to appreciate it; such is the beauty of its composition.

Lisa Gerrard is, simply put, one of the most talented vocalists in the world; able to convey deep, soul-felt emotion without use of words. If you have never experienced Dead Can Dance, do so as soon as possible. The sheer vocal ability of the woman is otherworldly. If you can watch the scene in which Maximus discovers the crucified bodies of his wife and son and feel nothing, you are, I am sorry to have to inform you, bereft of a soul.

Soundtracks are an under-appreciated area of music in many ways, and it was truly gratifying to see this win the Oscar for best original soundtrack. It was after Gladiator that I truly began to pay attention to the music in the background of everything I see and hear. It's definitely a worthwhile endeavour.


Serj Tankian - Empty Walls (Video)

As you may be aware, Serj Tankian of System of a Down fame has launched his solo career with a new album called Elect the Dead. The first single from this release, with accompanying video, is Empty Walls, and it's this that I want to ramble on about today.

The first time I saw this video was on the television, probably either Kerrang or Scuzz. It struck me as typical Serj - intense, creative, mad and compellingly charismatic. Then, just recently, I downloaded the uncensored version. I don't recall the differences as such, but it certainly struck me in a completely different way this time around. Put simply, and without exaggeration, it is a crime to censor this video.

The imagery is simply superb throughout, with children acting out the events of the Iraq war in a "kindergarten" setting. While the song is a little repetitive, it never becomes a true weakness; and the ending is extremely moving. Anyway, it's one of those things that is best left to speak for itself, so I'll now stand aside and let it do so.