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Golden Gate
Composed and Co-Orchestrated by:
Elliot Goldenthal

Conducted by:
Jonathan Sheffer

Co-Orchestrated by:
Robert Elhai

Produced by:
Matthias Gohl

Varèse Sarabande

Release Date:
March 1st, 1994

Also See:
In Dreams
Interview with the Vampire

Audio Clips:
2. Woman Cries (0:32):
WMA (209K)  MP3 (258K)
Real Audio (160K)

7. Softest Heat (0:28):
WMA (184K)  MP3 (225K)
Real Audio (140K)

10. Kwan Ying (0:28):
WMA (184K)  MP3 (228K)
Real Audio (141K)

11. Motel Street Meltdown (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

Regular U.S. release.


Golden Gate

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Sales Rank: 556033

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Buy it... if you seek to complete your Elliot Goldenthal collection with a restrained, but mostly accessible, multi-cultural romance score.

Avoid it... if you prefer your Goldenthal music to be wildly inventive and instrumentally challenging from start to finish.

Golden Gate: (Elliot Goldenthal) Critically assaulted and popularly ignored, Golden Gate told the story of a law school graduate in the early 1960's who is assigned by the FBI to root out communist elements in the Chinese community of the controversially liberal San Francisco. The new agent (Matt Dillon) becomes divided, however, when he falls in love with a Chinese shopowner's daughter (Joan Chen), and the struggle of loyalties leads the agent down the road to his own destruction (with the film ending on an ultimate, somber note). The film's hideous presentation of a shallow plot was countered by beautiful cinematography of San Francisco itself, so although the environment of tension and drama in the story presented difficult choices for any composer to contend with, the scenery was considerably more inspiring. The doomed love affair and grand locale offered Elliot Goldenthal an opportunity to do something that was, in retrospect, quite rare in his career: write longing romance music. The film's wrestling with subversion and forbidden love allowed Goldenthal to compose for the romance, however, using his comfortable feel for brooding attitudes. Experiencing his first taste of mainstream success by 1994, with both Alien 3 and Demolition Man under his belt, the composer began receiving offers for a wider variety of films. Most casual listeners recall Goldenthal's other efforts in that productive year, including Cobb and the Academy Award nominated Interview with the Vampire. His first project of that year, however, coming straight off of Demolition Man, was the little know Golden Gate. It would be the only collaboration between Goldenthal and acclaimed director John Madden (who is best known for his later films with the music of Stephen Warbeck), and the project would die in obscurity for both. Still, the music for Golden Gate, despite its interludes into Goldenthal's more typical realm of avant garde experimentation, contains harmonically accessible material that makes it among his easiest listening experiences.

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The soft and contemplative score balances its overall tone between stereotypical elements of Chinese culture and that of the FBI agent. The moments of Chinese environment are handled with an appropriate, dignified presentation of ethnic instrumentation, never becoming foreign to Western ears. Solo woodwind performances highlight these sequences, including the bittersweet "Between Bridge and Sky." The woes of the agent are represented by the true heart of the score, consisting of Goldenthal's melancholy jazz and blues styles. The application of the jazz here, as opposed to its intentionally jarring use in the forthcoming Titus, is very coherent for much of the score, stirring up the atmosphere of intimate clubs in the big city. But the story calls for the mental demise of that character, and thus, Goldenthal boldly tears apart the cohesion of the jazz as the score progresses. By the cue "Kwan Ying," the lead saxophone, which has been elegantly swaying along with much of the score to this point, becomes jagged and frenetic, and in "Write It As Time" you hear some of the dueling sax bursts in a striking technique that would terrify in Goldenthal's nightmarish and wildly outrageous In Dreams four years later. The following cue, "Motel Street Meltdown," takes the breakdown to its climax, forcing the otherwise standard jazz to mingle with an odd, angry vocal performance by Goldenthal himself. No, he does not sing, but rather, he uses his voice as a bizarre sound effect for the agent's madness, arguing with himself and yelling in a blurry background layer of the music While the words themselves are fuzzy, a distinct "what the hell!" (as well as "chamber of commerce," "communists" and "right wing") is to be heard near the end of that creatively strange cue. While these elements are fascinating to hear, they detract from the listenability of Goldenthal's romance writing for Golden Gate. With only five to ten minutes of truly unhindered sax performances for the love story aspect, the album is best remembered, as usual, for the despairing attitude of Goldenthal's overarching style. What tenderness the score briefly gains in parts is restrained by an alternately brooding personality, and, in the end, the album becomes a somber wash. *** Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For Elliot Goldenthal reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.13 (in 16 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.07 (in 15,600 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 2.77 Stars
Smart Average: 2.84 Stars*
***** 21 
**** 21 
*** 25 
** 27 
* 32 
  (View results for all titles)
    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
              to counterbalance fringe voting.
   A Good Starter Score
  Corey Caudill -- 8/8/03 (10:00 a.m.)
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 Track Listings: Total Time: 34:53

• 1. Golden Gate (3:35)
• 2. Woman Cries (3:33)
• 3. Between Bridge and Water (1:54)
• 4. Tender Deception (3:34)
• 5. Bopathonix Hex (2:48)
• 6. Woman Warrior (2:30)
• 7. Softest Heat (3:45)
• 8. Moon Watches (1:43)
• 9. Whisper Dance (1:51)
• 10. Kwan Ying (2:47)
• 11. Motel Street Meltdown (1:24)
• 12. Judgment on Mason Street (2:03)
• 13. Write It as Time (0:28)
• 14. Between Bridge and Sky (2:51)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert includes no extra information about the score or film.

  All artwork and sound clips from Golden Gate are Copyright © 1994, Varèse Sarabande. 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 7/13/03 and last updated 3/27/09. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2003-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.