In one month’s time audiences around the world will be taking a return trip to J.R.R. Tolkien‘s Middle-Earth via the comfort of a plush theater seat for the first time in nearly a decade when The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the opening chapter of Peter Jackson‘s eagerly-anticipated three-part adaptation of the 1937 classic fantasy-adventure Tolkien tome that would serve as the prequel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, hits cinema screens from Oregon to Oslo. To bring this heroic endeavor to life on the big screen Jackson recruited nearly every integral member of the cast and crew that together made the LoTR trilogy the epic achievement in genre filmmaking it almost wasn’t, most prominently composer Howard Shore, who won Academy Awards for his vibrant and awe-inspiring orchestral scores to The Fellowship of the Ring and The Return of the King.
Fans of Jackson and Shore’s previous collaborations were wondering how their latest musical jaunt through the land of wizards and monsters would sound, and most importantly how much of Shore’s compositions for the Lord of the Rings movies would be utilized for the Hobbit trilogy. They can rest easy because the score for An Unexpected Journey, which won’t be available for sale until the Tuesday prior to the movie’s opening, is now streaming for free in full online.
Not surprisingly you will hear more than a few of the magisterial musical motifs that established Shore’s lionized work on the Rings trilogy as some of the most iconic cinematic music of the past twenty years. However, it’s hardly an indicator of laziness and lack of imagination on the part of Shore and director Peter Jackson. Shore’s music gave a voice to the magic, wonderment, emotion, and terror of the perilous quest to destroy the One Ring and that music is as much a part of the celluloid fabric of Middle-Earth as the characters and sets. Shore uses his established themes to launch into a completely original sonic adventure with turns both optimistic and dark, true to the mutual visions of Jackson and Tolkien. It’s all fantastic material and I can’t wait to see how it works with the spectacular 3D adventure when it opens next month.
The soundtrack will be available starting December 11, 2012. You can pre-order standard and deluxe editions now. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey opens in theaters on December 14, 2012.