Brian Wise covers the classical music business for WQXR, including aspects of performance, technology, philanthropy and institutional trends. He produces the Café Concerts series and the podcast/show Conducting Business. He manages the station's homepage and makes sure what you hear on air is what you see online. Follow him on Twitter at @Briancwise.
Does 'The Lone Ranger’ Remake Get the William Tell Overture Right?
Sunday, August 18, 2013 - 07:00 PM
The Lone Ranger galloped back into theaters this summer, bringing both Tonto and the immortal theme music, the William Tell Overture, which turns up in a climactic train chase scene. But this isn’t the version familiar to generations who grew up on the 1930s radio serial or the 1950s television show. And it's certainly not one that opera buffs would recognize from Gioachino Rossini's opera.
As one might expect with a mega-budget revival, the William Tell Overture is heard in an enhanced, 10-minute arrangement by the film composer Hans Zimmer and his colleague Geoff Zanelli. Host David Garland presented the cue (called "Finale") Saturday night on Movies on the Radio and said, "it’s exciting in a way but ultimately it just doesn’t grab, at least not for me."
Much of Rossini's original score remains intact but Zimmer adds extra layers of orchestration and thematic material while slowing down the tempos. Garland speculates that the studio orchestra played to a click-track, ensuring that the tempo stays steady throughout the sequence. “Even though the orchestration will build, and we get that changing texture, we never have a changing tempo,” he said. “So the intended excitement doesn’t really grab us. You want the thing to speed up a little and slow down a little.”
Others found Zimmer's treatment more convincing. London’s Telegraph called it “rousing” and Scotland on Sunday praised the "hoof-stomping rendition." The website Filmtracks deemed it “one of the most spirited and interesting pieces of film music in years.”
Listen to the track here and tell us what you think in the comments box below:
And for comparison's sake, here’s the original "Lone Ranger" TV opening:
The Disney Studios also released a Future Cut remix of the overture, which layers in dance beats and other DJ effects. In an e-mail on Sunday, Garland said he began wondering why, “despite all the musical hubbub going on, the piece seemed to fall flat for me,” he wrote. “There are aspects of an exciting performance in 'Finale,' and it sounds sort of like a human performance--and probably a lot of human musicians were involved--but the effect is mechanical, inhuman, so it's unconvincing."
"The Lone Ranger," which stars Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp cost a reported $250 million, yet has seen disappointing box office numbers, so far making $80 million domestically.