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Section Header
1993 Regular

1998 Deluxe Commemorative

Composed, Conducted, and Co-Produced by:
Randy Edelman

Orchestrated by:
Ralph Ferraro

Co-Produced by:
David Franco

Labels and Dates:
Milan Entertainment
(September 28th, 1993)

Milan Entertainment
(April 7th, 1998)

Also See:
Gods and Generals
The Hunley

Audio Clips:
1993 Regular Album:

1. Main Title (0:31):
WMA (204K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

4. Fife and Gun (0:27):
WMA (179K)  MP3 (224K)
Real Audio (158K)

9. Over the Fence (0:32):
WMA (213K)  MP3 (269K)
Real Audio (189K)

14. Battle at Devil's Den (0:30):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

The 1993 album is a regular U.S. release. A 1994 follow-up product, also a commercial album from Milan, contains period songs and dialogue but no additional score. The 1998 "Deluxe Commemorative Edition" contains the original album as the first of two CDs, with the second adding about 40 minutes of score. It also features an extensive amount of bonus contents and is rarely found for under $50 on the used market.



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Sales Rank: 293566

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Buy it... if you, like most viewers of this film, became enamored with Randy Edelman's blatantly heroic music, a simplistic pleasure considered by the mainstream to be a wholesome statement of nobility.

Avoid it... if you have ever been remotely bothered by Edelman's amateurish thematic structures, non-existent textural creativity, or cheap blend of symphony and electronics, all of which do an incredible disservice to the historical complexity and gruesome conditions of the American Civil War's most famous battle.

Gettysburg: (Randy Edelman) Michael Shaara's 1974 novel "The Killer Angels," winner of a Pulitzer Prize, is considered to be among the most definitive (albeit partially fictionalized) accounts of the battle of Gettysburg, a decisive conflict that turned the tide of the American Civil War in 1863. A disastrous miscalculation by Confederate General Robert E. Lee, the Southern Army's attempt to drive north to encircle and force Washington into surrender, was rebuffed due to poor strategic choices, including the famous Pickett's Charge that led to 15,000 deaths alone. Ultimately, the three days of battle on extremely hot and humid July days led to 50,000 fallen soldiers and sent Lee's armies on a retreat that would eventually yield the end of the war. An adaptation of Shaara's novel had been accepted and then rejected by ABC in 1991, and it subsequently became the property of Ted Turner, who infused the project with cash and used it as the centerpiece of his TNT cable channel programming in 1994. He considered Gettysburg to be so good that he released it in limited theatres through his recently acquired New Line Cinema, and although it only grossed $10 million of its $25 budget from the big screen (a 254-minute running time, complete with intermission, was a deterrent for some viewers), it performed very strongly on TNT (23 million viewers in June, 1994) and has experienced a rebirth on home video that more than covered the production's original costs. The enthusiasm of several thousand voluntary re-enactors and surprising permission by the National Park Service to shoot some of the film on the actual battlefield helped curb those costs. A veteran cast of B-list actors was largely applauded by critics (including a great performance by character actor Richard Jordan that would prove to his last), as was the pacing of director Ronald F. Maxwell's screenplay. Contributing to the lasting popularity of Gettysburg was Randy Edelman's hybrid score, a work that helped launch the composer onto several blockbuster assignments for a short time later in the 1990's. He had written a variety of decent, but not particularly noteworthy budget scores (mostly for the comedy genre), capped by his involvement in finishing compositional work for Trevor Jones on the wildly embraced The Last of the Mohicans in 1992. Without a doubt, Gettysburg is, along with 1996's Dragonheart, the composer's most famous achievement.

Praise has long been showered down upon this score (despite no awards consideration), a result of its obvious, bombastic placement over the film's titles and featured action sequences. It has been released several times on album and represents Edelman's lone entry in many collections of casual soundtrack buyers. The music was positively mentioned in reviews of the film in 1993 and has since received almost unanimously glowing reviews from film score critics. That applause stops here. One of the reasons it took until 2010 for an editorial review of Gettysburg to be published at Filmtracks is because of this writer's immense admiration of Shaara's novel, respect for Turner's production, and fundamental belief that Edelman's score does an incredible injustice to both. Edelman and his simplistic style of symphonic and synthetic blend have a place in the industry. In a film like Kindergarten Cop, it's hard to imagine a better approach. For Gettysburg, however, the composer's badly underdeveloped structures and poor merging of electronic and organic elements is painful to hear on screen, an obviously cheap detriment to the production. It's hard not think that Turner, with his infinite wealth, could have afforded a top-tier composer for Gettysburg rather than settling for music that sounds like inexpensive filler material from a novice composer. You really can't blame Edelman for writing a score that fits snugly into his comfort zone, but both Gettysburg and Dragonheart beg questions of viability when compared to the far more intricate and expertly constructed scores by Edelman's peers. In the case of the latter score, the fantasy genre excused the sound to the same extent that Mark Knopfler's The Princess Bride was deemed a success. But with Gettysburg, there is really no way to reconcile Edelman's underachieving constructs and cheap instrumental tone when considering the topic of Shaara's novel. His themes are incredibly bare, and despite their decent manipulation throughout the score, they convey a level of simplicity that makes John Barry's bloated romance themes of the era seem complicated. A songwriter at heart, Edelman rarely instills his scores with compelling counterpoint, dissonance, or texture, restricting him to the basic kinds of harmony that have no prayer of scratching through the depths of Shaara's multitudes of character sub-plots. Without any subtlety in the constructs, this score is juvenile, mainstream, heroic fluff that has no business being in this film.

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Even if you can accept the blindly heroic themes in the score for Gettysburg, their bold statements deliberately blasting away without any consideration of nuance or genuine gravity, the orchestration of these ideas is abhorrent. In the moments during which Edelman utilizes solo acoustic guitar or individual symphonic elements for quiet interludes, his music transcends into appropriate territory. But whenever he's attempting to emphasize the action (or prelude to it), he props up the symphony with his usual synthetic, keyboarded tones that defeat the historical atmosphere in return for beefing up the volume. At times, this music sounds as though it could have been recorded by Christopher Franke for a "Babylon 5" television episode. The electronic rhythms and extremely dry snare during the entirety of "Battle at Devil's Den," for instance, are so painfully misplaced that it might be appropriate in a trashy thriller on the Sci-Fi Channel. The all-around dry recording, with absolutely no reverb added to indicate a sense of importance in the battle, is inexcusable. At times, Edelman even completely misses the intended emotional impact of a scene, including the soft heroism of "March to Mortality (Pickett's Charge)." Was he completely incapable of applying the minor key or, for that matter, any sense of dread, fear, death, or sorrow into cues such as this? His score is so focused on capturing the noble spirit of the battle that no significant distinction in tone is explored for the opposing sides, each character, or even the progression of a battle that becomes ever so desperate in its third day. In short, Edelman damn near ruined Gettysburg with his excruciatingly disappointing score. The masses may love it, but it's doubtful that the same masses have studied Shaara's book and the gruesome conditions in which the Civil War was fought. At least this vast underachievement was thoroughly corrected for the 2003 prequel, Gods and Generals, which features a score that paired Edelman with John Frizzell, who turned towards James Horner's seminal Glory for better inspiration. Not surprisingly, like Hans Zimmer's later Pearl Harbor, Edelman's score does play much better on album, where it has been successful enough to produce a few follow-up products. The fact that this music makes for an alternately stirring and relaxing product can't excuse its incredibly poor placement in the film, and for those equally bothered by its inappropriate tone and texture for Gettysburg, there may be no escaping its shortcomings even on its own. The killer angels deserve better than this barely adequate, cheaply heroic rubbish. Price Hunt: CD or Download

    Music as Written for the Film: **
    Music as Heard on Album: ***
    Overall: ***

Bias Check:For Randy Edelman reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.06 (in 18 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.17 (in 27,556 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 3.32 Stars
Smart Average: 3.25 Stars*
***** 53 
**** 41 
*** 32 
** 25 
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 Track Listings (1993 Regular Album): Total Time: 57:17

• 1. Main Title (4:32)
• 2. Men of Honor (2:55)
• 3. Battle of Little Round Top (3:56)
• 4. Fife and Gun (3:01)
• 5. General Lee at Twilight (1:25)
• 6. The First Battle (2:41)
• 7. Dawn (1:57)
• 8. From History to Legend (2:56)
• 9. Over the Fence (4:09)
• 10. We Are the Flank (2:14)
• 11. Charging Up the Hill (2:24)
• 12. Dixie (traditional) (2:25)
• 13. General Lee's Solitude (3:39)
• 14. Battle at Devil's Den (1:45)
• 15. Killer Angel (4:41)
• 16. March to Mortality (Pickett's Charge) (3:13)
• 17. Kathleen Mavourneen (traditional) (3:15)
• 18. Reunion and Finale (5:44)

 Track Listings (1998 Deluxe Album): Total Time: 97:38

CD 1: (57:17)
• 1. Main Title (4:32)
• 2. Men of Honor (2:55)
• 3. Battle of Little Round Top (3:56)
• 4. Fife and Gun (3:01)
• 5. General Lee at Twilight (1:25)
• 6. The First Battle (2:41)
• 7. Dawn (1:57)
• 8. From History to Legend (2:56)
• 9. Over the Fence (4:09)
• 10. We Are the Flank (2:14)
• 11. Charging Up the Hill (2:24)
• 12. Dixie (traditional) (2:25)
• 13. General Lee's Solitude (3:39)
• 14. Battle at Devil's Den (1:45)
• 15. Killer Angel (4:41)
• 16. March to Mortality (Pickett's Charge) (3:13)
• 17. Kathleen Mavourneen (traditional) (3:15)
• 18. Reunion and Finale (5:44)

CD 2 (40:21)
• 1. Gettysburg Revisited (2:17)
• 2. Old Friends (2:49)
• 3. Buford's Decisive Determination (1:46)
• 4. They're Coming Again (3:42)
• 5. To the Queen (3:19)
• 6. Pickett's Complaint (2:33)
• 7. Kilrain's Ride (1:00)
• 8. Soldier's Irony and Close Call (6:56)
• 9. Refuse the Line (3:10)
• 10. We Will Prevail (1:50)
• 11. Message From Alexander (1:41)
• 12. Fremantle and Armistead (1:41)
• 13. Hancock and Kemper are Shot (2:23)
• 14. Armistead is Hit (3:11)
• 15. The Gettysburg Address - recited by Jeff Daniels (2:28)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert of the 1993 album contains a very short note of thanks from Edelman, absent any information about the score or film. The 1998 2-CD set rectifies that problem, with a 28-page booklet featuring notes from the director and the composer (as well as photos and maps of the battlefield).

  All artwork and sound clips from Gettysburg are Copyright © 1993, 1998, Milan Entertainment (Regular), Milan Entertainment (Deluxe). 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 12/31/09 (and not updated significantly since). Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2009-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.