Home > Reviews > THE RING/THE RING 2 – Hans Zimmer/Henning Lohner and Martin Tillman

THE RING/THE RING 2 – Hans Zimmer/Henning Lohner and Martin Tillman

theringOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

When novelist Koji Suzuki and director Hideo Nakata first came together to make the Japanese film Ringu in 1998, they could scarcely imagine the world wide impact their collaboration would make. The resulting movie was a domestic smash, and an enormous cult success, and has since seen numerous variations-on-a-theme in Asian cinema, as well as the inevitable Hollywood remakes. Essentially a film exploring the horrific potential of modern electrical appliances, the American remake – The Ring – was directed by Gore Verbinski, and starred Naomi Watts as journalist Rachel Keller, who stumbles across a mystery surrounding a video tape which causes the deaths of anyone who watches it. When her own niece falls victim to the video curse, and when her young son Aidan (David Dorfman) begins to behave oddly, Keller digs deeper – and uncovers the horrific history of a young girl named Samara Morgan, an isolated horse farm, terrible telekinetic powers, and an old dark well…

The 2005 sequel is notable for that it is directed by Hideo Nakata, the man behind the Japanese Ring, putting him in the unique position of being the director of the sequel to the remake of his own original film! The film again stars Naomi Watts and David Dorfman return as the mother and son haunted by the ghost of Samara’s vengeance. Having survived the events of the first movie, Rachel and Aidan settle down in their new home away in an out-of-the-way community, but find they can run but they can’t hide – and that the video curse has struck again. However, this time, it seems that Samara has just one intended target – Aidan – and Rachel must fight to save her son from the evil forces that are seeking to destroy him.

The music for The Ring is quite unlike anything Hans Zimmer has ever composed; by using the lowest registers of the string section, with highlighted performances by cellos and double basses, Zimmer creates an atmosphere of palpable dread, enlivened only by the continual sense of thrusting motion created by the endless sawing of the strings. The addition of an eerie tinkling piano and an unnaturally sinister music box to the brooding, darkly elegant main theme make the first half of “The Well” and parts of “Burning Tree” agreeably downbeat delights, while the taut rhythms of “Before You Die You See The Ring” and the ear-shattering dissonance of “This Is Going To Hurt” give an air of almost unbearable tension to Rachel’s frantic search to unlock the clues to Samara’s past.

For some reason, Zimmer has always been particularly good at writing for cellos, as moments in scores such as The Prince of Egypt attest, and once again he allows the talents of regular collaborator Tony Pleeth to shine through. His harsh, spidery performances give the second half of “The Well” an uncompromising edge. The score has subtle shades of Chris Young, Zimmer’s own score for The Pledge, and even Morricone, but these influences do not take away from the fact that The Ring represents Zimmer at his most original.

Henning Lohner and Martin Tillman, two rising stars in the Media Ventures empire, add a slightly more modern edge to their score for The Ring 2, introducing subtle synthesizers and electronic sound design into the mix to bolster Zimmer’s original array of deep, dark strings. Their main thematic contribution is an undulating four-note motif which is passed around between piano and xylophone depending on the circumstances, and is heard prominently at the end of “The Well”, the beginning of “Burning Tree”, and during “Not Your Mommy” and the uncharacteristically calm “Shelter Mountain”. “The Ferry” is a standout moment for them, featuring a highly unusual high-pitched cello wail which seems to mimic the unearthly buzzing heard on the curse video itself; when backed by eddying strings, the resulting in a piece of music is simultaneously bittersweet and attractive, yet somehow disturbing too.

The last four cues on the album – “She Never Sleeps”, “Let the Dead Get In”, “Seven Days” and “Television” – are re-mixes of music from both Ring films, prepared by Lohner, Tillman and Trevor Morris specifically for inclusion in this album. As mere curios, they pique the interest briefly, but add nothing of real substance or value to the score as a whole.

Zimmer’s original score for The Ring was never commercially released, surfacing instead as a 30-minute bootleg which proved very popular with film music collectors on the secondary market. Zimmer chose not to release his score on CD as he felt that it was not long or substantial enough to be commercially viable. However, with the release of the sequel, Decca took the opportunity to release a compilation CD featuring Zimmer’s score for the first movie, Tillman and Lohner’s score for the sequel, as well as several “remixes” based on the original themes.

Somewhat oddly, rather than present the music separately as suites from each film, it seems as though the Decca album actually intertwines music from both films together so that it is almost impossible to tell the two apart – tracks flow between music from Ring and Ring 2 and back again, sometimes within the same cue. While this decision was obviously taken so as to provide the listener with a complete aural experience of both films, it is nevertheless somewhat disappointing that it is difficult to tell who composed what, and for which film – the cue titles are no help either.

Despite this slight confusion, it is still impossible to ignore the fact that, when he has the opportunity to go away and be truly creative, and when he does not have the unwelcome influence of Jerry Bruckheimer steering him in a particular musical direction, Zimmer still has the talent to impress. He really does know how to use his orchestra to their fullest potential, and can create interesting musical landscapes using small ensembles and relatively simple combinations of instruments. It may not be the most conventionally attractive score in the world, but it serves its purpose – and to be frank, I’d rather Zimmer wrote music like this than another King Arthur any day.

Rating: ***½

Track Listing:

  • The Well (11:24)
  • Before You Die You See The Ring (7:09)
  • This Is Going to Hurt (2:48)
  • Burning Tree (10:13)
  • Not Your Mommy (3:59)
  • Shelter Mountain (4:10)
  • The Ferry (3:15)
  • I’ll Follow Your Voice (6:28)
  • She Never Sleeps (2:17)
  • Let the Dead Get In (3:59)
  • Seven Days (3:24)
  • Television (4:00)

Running Time: 63 minutes 00 seconds

Decca/Universal B0004405-02 (2005)

THE RING: Music composed by Hans Zimmer. Conducted by Fiachra Trench. Orchestrations by Bruce Fowler. Additional music by Jim Dooley, Henning Lohner and Martin Tillman. Featured musical soloists Anthony Pleeth and Martin Tillman. Recorded and mixed by Geoff Foster. Edited by Trevor Morris.

THE RING 2: Music composed by Henning Lohner and Martin Tillman. Conducted by Gavin Greenaway. Original Ring themes by Hans Zimmer. Additional music by Trevor Morris.

Album produced by Hans Zimmer and Trevor Morris.

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