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Comments about the soundtrack for Enemy at the Gates (James Horner)
Filmtracks Sponsored Donated Review

Josh Blackman
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(donated.filmtracks.com)
Filmtracks Sponsored Donated Review   Saturday, January 3, 2009 (3:34 p.m.) 

(The following donated review by Josh Blackman was moved by Filmtracks to this comment section in January, 2009)


Enemy at the Gates: (James Horner) Now I don't consider myself a huge James Horner fan, but when I consider that over 1/3 of my soundtrack collection at the moment is done by Horner, well, maybe I am misjudging things... In any case, his latest effort for the WW2 drama, Enemy at the Gates, is a good one, although probably lacking in a touch of originality. This, of course, is not new for Horner, as there are countless people willing to rip apart everyone of his scores for his self-plagiarism. Unfortunately, many will see a John Williams influence here as well, as the main romantic theme for Enemy at the Gates bears a reasonable resemblance to the main theme for Schindler's List. Having said that, I didn't even notice the similarities until I read it somewhere, and I don't think it is that big an issue (and, yes, I am very familiar with the Williams score).

The actual theme itself I absolutely adore, and it reoccurs throughout the score frequently. For me, this is a 5 star theme. The other predominant motif/theme on display here is the '4-note oooohhh it's the bad guy theme', which we've all heard before from Willow and many others. Now, it is a good motif, and it works in the movie, but we've heard it time and time before, and never as frequently as in this movie, and recently I've been questioning it's originality (Wagner's Parsifal). I think it needs to be put to bed and another 'bad guy' theme composed altogether.

To the tracks themselves. The CD opens with a masterful 15 minute suite 'The River Crossing to Stalingrad', which opens in an eerily similar way to Braveheart, then has a soft, beautiful statement of the main theme and then develops into loud Horner action music, with the four-note motif and a adult chorus adding to the mix. The 3rd track obviously has a strong Russian influence, and the adult chorus is again on full display. The middle section of the score - the 4th-8th tracks - is decidedly flat, and although the music isn't bad, it is mostly uninspiring underscore, which seems to be padding between the excitement and drama of the beginning and end of the album. The 10th track, 'Betrayal' is just plain brilliant, and includes many different renditions of the main theme and concludes in a cascade of beautiful strings. The following 'Danilov's Confession' builds up the tension for the first 4 mins and then flows into the soft Chorus again, and some soft, heartfelt versions of the theme again. The final track, 'Tania', again contains great versions of the main theme, and a section with the adult chorus obviously inspired by Saint-Saens (similar to Babe); it is a great finish to the score.

Overall, this is a good effort by Horner, and the main theme is a beautiful one, but it ultimately suffers from a few too many slow parts in this long release (over 76 mins), and that lack of originality that his is so renowned for. If he could only combine some of the creative elements for this score with something truly original or different, then we might really have a classic on our hands. ****



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