Howard Shore: Creating the Lord of the Rings Symphony (2004)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 10-Dec-2004

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Dolby Digital Trailer-Rain
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 50:02
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Marshall Johnson

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Howard Shore
Case Amaray-Opaque-Secure Clip
RPI Box Music Howard Shore

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 EX (448Kb/s)
English dts 6.1 ES Discrete (768Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    It must be frustrating for film composers sometimes. They spend months or sometimes years crafting an exquisite score for a film, it gets recorded and that's it. They can hear it any time the film is viewed, or perhaps there might be an accompanying CD release they can listen to, but generally you'd imagine that once the composer has finished his work on a film, he will move onto something new, perhaps borrowing elements of an existing score for a new one, but never really getting the chance to play the score in its entirety ever again.

    The score for the Lord Of The Rings trilogy is, much like the rest of the film, a little different. For starters it is really three film scores in one. It is a multi-award winning score as well, claiming two Academy Awards for the composer, Canadian Howard Shore. It is also, thanks to Shore's commitment to this project, a score that is going to live on for some time to come.

    It has been turned into a two hour symphony, played by a full orchestra and choir with iconic Alan Lee illustrations projected on a screen for the audience to enjoy. The performance contained in this 50 minute abridged version was recorded at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, Place des Arts in Montreal Canada in February 2004. The appreciative and large audience is treated to a full six movements with the orchestra, chorus, and soloists joined by conductor Howard Shore performing elements of the film score. Instantly recognisable movements from the Shire, The Black Riders, The Mines of Moria, the beautiful Rohan theme, and many others instantly bring an image from the film into your mind, such is the power of the score. For those that may need a little reminder of where certain movements lie, the Alan Lee illustrations projected onto a large screen at the back of the stage will help immensely.

    Scattered between the various movements is footage of Howard Shore at work recording the original score for the film with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and also speaking to camera, explaining his thought processes in creating the score. Unfortunately, this last element is the worst part of this program as Shore looks extremely uncomfortable and appears to be reading from an autocue or written dialogue (and it shows badly).

    All up, this is a decent look at what has become an interesting spin-off from the successful film trilogy, though it would have probably been a little more value to focus more on the actual symphony and less on the tedious explanation.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    A widescreen concert is always a bonus. This one is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and it is also 16x9 enhanced.

    This looks like it was recorded in high definition broadcast quality video, and as such it is generally very sharp throughout, though the subdued nature of the lighting does provide a sort of flatness to the edges of the performers and the instruments. The net result of this is that they don't really jump out from the background like the performers do in other concerts that I have seen. Thankfully there is no trace of any edge enhancement. There are no problems with shadow detail. Grain is minimal (mostly obvious on the lower quality behind-the-scenes shots). There is no low level noise.

    The colour palette is fairly narrow, with a warm red and natural feel to much of the concert performance. It is a very relaxed looking concert.

    There are no compression artefacts present - not at all unexpected considering the only thing on the disc is the 50 minute program and three soundtracks. There are no other video artefacts of any sort. Given the nature and youth of the source material, this is not unexpected.

    This release has two subtitle streams. The usual English for the Hearing Impaired variety are joined by some Greek subtitles. Sampling the English variety extensively found them to be highly accurate and well placed on screen.

    This is a single-layered disc only so there is no layer change with which to contend.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    Obviously this title is all about the audio, and thankfully it has been given the right royal treatment.

    We are blessed with a total of three audio soundtracks for this disc. First up is a fairly stock-standard Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo offering, encoded at a bitrate of 192Kb/s. Moving up a notch is the quite lovely Dolby Digital 5.1 EX encoded soundtrack. This has been encoded at a bitrate of 448 Kb/s. Rounding out the selection and moving a rung even higher on the desirability stakes is the final soundtrack. It is a luscious dts 6.1 ES soundtrack encoded at a bitrate of 768Kb/s. Should your capability extend that far, the last track is certainly the one of choice, but even for us mere mortals who only possess the most basic of 5.1 processing, both surround soundtracks are excellent. Most of the following comments pertain to the dts soundtrack even though I only possess a 5.1 speaker setup.

    Dialogue levels are fine and audio sync is perfect.

    The music is obviously what this soundtrack is all about and the result is beautiful. It really does need to be turned up a few extra notches to make the most of it, but when you do the experience is a joy. There is not nearly as much surround presence as I was expecting, with the front three speakers dominating proceedings. The wide range of instruments is captured to perfection with the choir soaring above them all. It is almost operatic in its delivery at times, and both performers and conductor show great passion for their work.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Dolby Digital Trailer


R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    From what information I can find, the Region 1 release is identical to the Region 4.


    The musical score from The Lord Of The Rings is truly one of the most remarkable ever composed. The idea of turning it into a fully-fledged concert performance with full orchestral arrangement is a marvellous idea that will no doubt open the world of Middle-earth to even more prospective fans. To hear certain movements of the symphony and instantly have scenes from the three films spring to life inside your head makes you realise just how much of an effect this score has had on the movie-going public. Howard Shore's work is captured for all time here in a quite beautiful way. The only negative in this 50 minute presentation is there is not enough music and a little too much of Shore's deadpan delivery while reading his lines from an autocue.

    The video quality is excellent.

    The audio soundtrack, especially the dts 6.1 ES track, is wonderful. Turn it up as loud as the neighbours will allow for the full effect.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Friday, December 17, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
What a shame - penguin (there is no bio)
Is this really R2/R4 encoded? - Gav REPLY POSTED