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The Edge
1997 BMG/RCA

2010 La-La Land

Composed, Conducted, Co-Orchestrated, and Produced by:
Jerry Goldsmith

Co-Orchestrated by:
Alexander Courage

2010 Album Produced by:
Nick Redman
Mike Matessino

Labels and Dates:
BMG Music/RCA Victor
(Sept 30th, 1997)

La-La Land Records
(June 15th, 2010)

Also See:
The Vanishing
Star Trek: First Contact
Ghost in the Darkness
The Haunting

Audio Clips:
1997 BMG/RCA Album:

1. Lost in the Wild (0:37):
WMA (243K)  MP3 (301K)
Real Audio (187K)

2. The Ravine (0:30):
WMA (195K)  MP3 (243K)
Real Audio (151K)

8. The River (0:30):
WMA (195K)  MP3 (243K)
Real Audio (151K)

9. Rescued (0:30):
WMA (193K)  MP3 (238K)
Real Audio (147K)

The 1997 BMG/RCA album was a regular U.S. release but went out of print by the early 2000's and sold for $75 or more. The 2010 La-La Land album is a limited pressing of 3,500 copies, available at soundtrack specialty outlets for $20.


The Edge

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Sales Rank: 113661

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Buy it... if you collect Jerry Goldsmith's soaring and majestic title themes of uninhibited harmony for bold horns and want to hear the composer creatively orchestrate most of his own material for the first time in decades.

Avoid it... if you expect Goldsmith's trademark strength for extended periods of time in action and suspense sequences that reflect the mannerisms of The Ghost of the Darkness without capturing the same intensity.

The Edge: (Jerry Goldsmith) If you like seeing rich businessmen and smarmy socialites stranded in the Alaska's wilderness and chased by nasty wildlife (and each other), then The Edge is a film far more likely to amuse you than thrill you. Even more impressive than Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin battling the elements and their distrust of each other is the combination of the Alaska landscape (actually shot in Alberta, Canada) and the always intriguing acting work of Bart the Bear, this time in one of his final performances. The billionaire and the photographer for his model wife crash in a small plane while searching for locations to do a shoot, and along the road to possible rescue, unnecessary characters are slaughtered and the bear stalks the survivors with the same unyielding, cold attitude as the outdoors itself. It is this natural element that guided Jerry Goldsmith's score for the film, one of the veteran's more memorable efforts of his later years and an arguably superior listening experience to his concurrent, more highly praised L.A. Confidential. For long time collectors of the composer, The Edge has always been a second-tier favorite, but the score is more importantly an unusual work for Goldsmith in that era of his career. While the composition may, on the whole, resemble most of his other action scores from the 1990's, it has a few distinct characteristics that set it apart. First, despite the film's highly concentrated character development, none of the main principals receives any kind of theme (or even any motif, really). Some may argue that the title theme alternately belongs to Hopkins' character, but its application is more closely tied to the general concept of sophistication versus nature. Second, Goldsmith treats his title theme quite differently in The Edge, with much more significant airtime provided for the broad, graceful theme than in his usual writing. To this end, horn lovers should rejoice, because this score uses more massively harmonic, unimpeded performances by the instrument than in nearly any other Goldsmith score. Third, director Lee Tamahori instructed Goldsmith not employ his usual array of synthesizers and, as a result, Goldsmith would largely orchestrate the score himself (a task he had not accomplished in many decades). Finally, with a little extra recording time left at the end of the sessions, Goldsmith and Tamahori decided it would be fun to manipulate the grand title theme into an intimate jazz rendition. The result of all of these little quirky aspects of The Edge is a score that is just as intriguing to study (for a collector of the composer) as it is to sit back and enjoy.

The downside of The Edge, conversely, is that the action and suspense material in the score is not up to Goldsmith's usual high standards, leaving several non-thematic cues as filler music that will do little more than remind you in a general sense of other Goldsmith efforts. An ominous, prickly rhythm for plucked elements, anchored by the repetition of a three-note phrase, is frequently employed as a generic backdrop for the scenes of movement through the forest. The most cohesive and lengthy expression of this idea, aided by its usual descending woodwind lines in counterpoint, can be heard in "Bitter Coffee." Despite this mundane stance in regards to the element of suspense, it should be noted, however, that this is one Goldsmith score that works brilliantly in its film. Most of that credit, however, needs to go to the primary horn theme. Molded from Trevor Jones' sparsely grand Last of the Mohicans brass title identity (once again a Tamahori request), Goldsmith's main theme for the horns is a noble and spectacular accompaniment for the aerial shots of the wilderness. More interesting is Goldsmith's extreme loyalty to that theme throughout the score; it can be heard in full in no less than half the cues in the score, and its presence in the film is unmistakable. Part of that credit goes to the very simple and thus memorable movements of the abnormally long, fluid theme (a carryover from the Jones theme, to some degree), and part goes to the bold statements of that idea without much interference from counterpoint or other orchestral activity. Even in its more subtle statements, as in "The Discovery" and the latter half of "The River," the theme's full brass harmony is exceptional. The string bridge sequence in the theme is employed much like the equivalent interlude in The Shadow, utilized as a victorious and romantic standalone idea, most notably with bravado at about the one minute mark into "Rescued." The only other thematic identity in The Edge represents the grizzly bear, with a brute brass slur (falling one note) appearing in "The Ravine" and "Stalking." It's not as creative as the faintly related use in The Shadow, nor is it as effective in its sense of foreboding as in equivalent purposes in The Ghost in the Darkness, but it gets the job done. The rather bland underscore in associated chase sequences sounds like leftovers from Goldsmith's (and his son's) suspense cues in Star Trek: First Contact, with occasional references back to the tumultuous string movements of Poltergeist and a few foreshadowings of woodwind usage that you would later hear in The Haunting. A singular similarity to Star Trek: First Contact also exists in the mutation of the title theme at 3:45 into "Rescued."

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The most delicious area of study in The Edge, interestingly, relates to the lack of synthesizers. Ironically, in the electronics' requested absence, Goldsmith orchestrates several key cues in ways that imitate his normal bed of synthetic ostinatos. For avid collectors of the composer's works who are accustomed to his standard, tingling accompaniment for themes in practically any genre at the time, you can easily tell where Goldsmith had his usual synthetic rhythm-setters originally in mind. In a strikingly effective, though almost awkward move, he uses a piano, trumpet, and high woodwinds to attempt to recreate them organically, following the same descending, minor-key ostinato format as you would normally encounter. Accompanying the plane ride in "Lost in the Wild," Goldsmith forces the dexterous piano and trumpets into these precise, quick emulations, eventually emphasizing the woodwinds a bit more in the mix in "Mighty Hunter." It's a curious, but delightful enforcement of Goldsmith's personal style into a handicapped situation, and the trumpets and piano would play a very small role in the rest of the score. It also makes you appreciate, in retrospect, just how important an element the synthesizers were to Goldsmith, and one wishes that he had mixed them into one of these cues as an alternate piece for hardcore enthusiasts. The other notable aspect of The Edge is the forcing of the title theme into the realm of jazz for the final return to civilization in the story. The performance of this theme by piano, bass, and percussion resulted when the three musicians stuck around to perform spontaneously at the end of the recording sessions. The effect of having this cue attached to the project is as odd as the similarly sudden jazz appeal at the end of Goldsmith's The Vanishing a few years earlier, and, quite frankly, even the biggest fans of the style from The Russia House will find this cue a little tough to chew on after a completely unrelated score. Overall, The Edge is a solid score because of it's thematic integrity, though don't expect Goldsmith to impress you with extended, vibrant action sequences. The vast simplicity of the title theme's construct, as well as its straight forward performances, could leave you wanting more development. The original 1997 BMG/RCA album's mix is strangely heavy on the treble regions, with noticeable hiss in the trio's jazz performance at the end. That mix does, though, aid the cause of those intriguing attempts by Goldsmith to recreate the synthesizers with orchestral players. After that product went badly out of print, La-La Land Records issued a limited pressing of the complete score in 2010, adding even more unified title theme performances and a few alternate takes, as well as a correction of the mix. Ultimately, the unashamed, bold harmony for the horns makes this score an easy recommendation on any album. **** Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For Jerry Goldsmith reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.26 (in 113 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.26 (in 138,513 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 3.39 Stars
Smart Average: 3.26 Stars*
***** 383 
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   One Fine Score
  Chris_FSB*25 -- 4/10/13 (5:43 p.m.)
   A very good soundtrack
  Rende -- 10/4/06 (2:45 p.m.)
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 Track Listings (1997 BMG/RCA Album): Total Time: 38:03

• 1. Lost in the Wild (3:01)
• 2. The Ravine (4:38)
• 3. Birds (2:24)
• 4. Mighty Hunter (1:34)
• 5. Bitter Coffee (3:03)
• 6. Stalking (5:47)
• 7. Deadfall (6:16)
• 8. The River (2:21)
• 9. Rescued (6:04)
• 10. The Edge (2:57)

 Track Listings (2010 La-La Land Album): Total Time: 66:05

• 1. Early Arrival* (1:32)
• 2. Lost in the Wild(s) (2:59)
• 3. A Lucky Man/Open Door* (1:41)
• 4. Mighty Hunter (1:31)
• 5. The Spirit* (0:36)
• 6. Birds (2:22)
• 7. The Fire/Breakfast* (2:31)
• 8. Rich Man* (0:58)
• 9. The Ravine (4:36)
• 10. Bitter Coffee (3:01)
• 11. Wounded* (1:38)
• 12. Stephen's Death* (2:26)
• 13. The Cage/False Hope/No Matches* (3:34)
• 14. Stalking (5:46)
• 15. Deadfall/Bear Fight (6:21)
• 16. The Discovery/Turn Your Back* (5:01)
• 17. The River (2:26)
• 18. Rescued (6:03)
• 19. End Title (Lost in the Wild)(s)* (1:59)
• 20. The Edge (2:55)

Bonus Tracks:
• 21. False Hope (Alternate Take)* (1:08)
• 22. Rescued (Film Version Ending)* (1:19)
• 23. The Edge (Alternate Take)* (3:00)

* previously unreleased track

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert of the 1997 BMG/RCA album includes no extra information about the score or film. The 2010 La-La Land album's insert contains notes about both, though it does not address the role that the director had in shaping the score.

  All artwork and sound clips from The Edge are Copyright © 1997, 2010, BMG Music/RCA Victor, La-La Land Records. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 10/1/97 and last updated 6/23/10. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 1997-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.