Nov 19 2010, 1:29pm
yes, I do think that any reasonably talented composer could have taken over the composing for The Hobbit and done a good job. I'm not sure why you're bringing up the books, as writing novels and scoring films are as different as waffles and aeroplanes; but yes, I also think that there are many writers who could craft interesting and successful continuations of Tolkien's work (though I would not like for any individual writer to be given this privilege, but that's another discussion). A new composer would presumably be allowed to utilise the most important connective themes (The Shire, Rivendell, Gollum etc), and I expect that Shore's work would have been a major influence on the rest of the score. Taking this into consideration, I think it's likely that the new soundtrack would have sounded quite similar to that of The Lord of the Rings.
You say that the results would be 'detrimental'. But can you say that for certain? I've already made it clear that Howard Shore is my number-one choice to score The Hobbit, but as much as I enjoy some of his work, I wouldn't say he's the greatest composer alive. If anyone deserves that title, I think it is John Williams, who has composed so many iconic and memorable themes that it is difficult for me to imagine the world of cinema without him. Would I have been satisfied if he had scored The Hobbit? Certainly. Another suggestion, made by the member Gandalf'sMother, was Hans Zimmer. At first I was sceptical, thinking of Pirates of the Caribbean. Then I heard his fantastic work on Inception, and I have to say I agree: he is a fine composer, and I would be comfortable with him taking over The Hobbit.
I used the example of Harry Potter because it was the first example of a skilled composer being replaced on a major series to an acceptable standard that came to my mind. At first I wrote that Williams's successors had done 'pretty well', but I immediately corrected myself to 'not too badly'. I personally thought that Patrick Doyle's score for the fourth film was great, and I found the later films' soundtracks to be acceptable, too (though I haven't seen the seventh yet). I'd consider one good soundtrack and two all-right ones to be 'not too bad'. But you're right, Harry Potter isn't a very good illustrative example of a composer being replaced well. But I don't think we can judge how Zimmer or Williams would have replaced Shore by examining how Doyle, Hooper and Desplat replaced Williams. I wouldn't consider Hooper to be a 'reasonably talented composer', but perhaps he's just not to my taste.
As I have said, I do not 'want' Howard Shore to be replaced. I am simply saying that the films would survive the loss of their composer, as they have survived the loss of their director, and as they would survive the loss of Ian McKellen, if worst came to worst. Just because I'd be willing to let go of them and move on doesn't mean I'd be delighted to do so. If a genuinely good composer replaced Howard Shore – and integrated his thematic work skilfully – I would still see the films, love them and most likely enjoy the soundtrack. But this is a silly hypothetical discussion – we know Shore will be returning, and there's no one I'd rather have.