King Arthur (Hans Zimmer)

Following the success of the "Pirates" franchise, Disney's Touchstone Pictures wanted to capitalize on another major period blockbuster adventure, with mega-producer Jerry Bruckheimer again at the lead. "King Arthur" was released in 2004, directed by Antoine Fuqua, presumably hired because of his experience with gritty adult storytelling, found himself at odds with the studio that wanted a family-friendly product. Gone were the fantastical fairy tale trappings, instead setting the story in a darker Britannia, with Roman forces defending the isle from 'Woads' (Picts) and invading Saxons. The picture was a hard sell to fans of the original mythology, and angered historical purists, but was nevertheless an entertaining action-adventure film.

Producer Bruckheimer brought composer Hans Zimmer along for the ride. This score, along with the third "Pirates" film a few years later, seemed to mark the end of an era for the German composer, in which he chose for a while to step away from his beefy orchestral, power-anthem action scores to focus on a more introspective and experimental period of his career, largely defined by his collaborations with director Christopher Nolan. Zimmer gives one of his biggest scores, a testosterone high, culminating his decade of industry-defining scores for Bruckheimer productions. Featuring his usual blend of manipulated orchestra, synthetics, specialty regional instruments, chanting choir, and featured female vocalist, the score might not be his most complex work, but it ticks all the boxes to be a solid guilty pleasure. 

Hollywood Records released an hour-long album, featuring the end credits song, performed by Moya Brennan, though the score is heavily edited into six long suite cues. As a fan of mythology, history, and Arthurian legends, this film hit a sweet spot in my teenage years, so it was fun to revisit this artwork, even though I haven't seen the film in years. I present seven new covers.

Cover 1 uses a variant on the key poster art, featured on the unrated Director's Cut on home video. The textless version of this art I found featured many editing errors, especially around the edges of the picture (since the box border was removed), so I had to patch the image together to get cleaner versions of the three leads using other character posters (to complete Arthur and Lancelot, as well as to cleanly erase the shield from behind Guinevere's hair).

The second cover features a teaser poster, which required little editing, other than cloning out the flag on the left of the image a bit to widen things out.

Cover 3 uses the main theatrical poster, but I wanted to feature what got cut out on the official album cover--Arthur and his knights at the bottom, and tweak the awkward text placement on the original.

The fourth cover was a simple creation, using not poster art, but a still from the film. The image is perhaps a bit simple compared to the others, but I liked featuring Arthur in his full Roman armor. 

Cover 5 uses another teaser poster, with Arthur's shield, little editing was required.

The sixth cover was a bit of a pain to composite. It uses three single character posters that were used in Chinese marketing--which I decided to try to combine into one joint image. I liked that the image had a totally different style, unfortunately, the original image quality was quite poor, and even with enhancement, it still doesn't look great. I also had to clone out all the existing text and overlay some outside elements (like the lower field of grass on the left of the image, as the original is glaringly cloned). Arthur's body was pulled in part from the original publicity still to patch over the deleted text, and I had to steal bits of the red flag in the background from other posters to complete the effect of a single flowing piece of cloth. In the end, I'm not sure if all my effort was totally worth it, but at least I know there won't be another cover out there using this particular piece of artwork!

Finally, Cover 7 was another headache. The main artwork is sourced from the cover of a Konami game. I like that the images of Arthur and Lancelot are different than those used in any poster (and I desperately wish I had been able to find the original publicity stills that were used to source this). It also featured the same image of Guinevere that was used in all the main posters (and poorly edited over Arthur), but I opted to use an alternate image of her (again, from those publicity promos), and then tried my best edit it in to match the existing style. Unfortunately even with enhancement the cover art was somewhat low-quality, so I actually had to put some degrading and a slight blur on Guin to try to make the composite more seamless. The image also had a very annoying halo glow around all the characters, which made it look very dated, which I tried to eliminate as best I could by darkening with the surrounding tones. I also had to expand the top of the image significantly, removing the game cover banner, eventually I discovered that the red glad was the same source as used on the sword teaser image from Cover 2, so I patched and blended that in and edited the colors to match. Also since I replaced Guinevere on the right, I had to replace most of the image behind her as well. So though this arguably looks like I just used the game cover, in the end, probably at least two thirds of the image have been edited, or replaced in order to give me a workable image. Sometimes the covers that take the most work, don't end up being slam-dunks. but I stick with it if I feel the image has potential. I wish I had all the original elements that were first used so I could properly create a clean, hi-rez version of this.... but this will have to do. Whether anyone else will actually find any value from it will have to be seen. But at any rate, it is fun to finally get to the other side of a giant obstacle, even if one only has oneself to blame for choosing to take it on to begin with.

Hope you enjoy having some alternates. Let me know your thoughts on the film and score, and which covers you pick as your favorite!

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