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Section Header
Smilla's Sense of Snow
(1997)
Co-Composed, Conducted, and Co-Produced by:
Harry Gregson-Williams

Co-Composed and Co-Produced by:
Hans Zimmer

Orchestrated by:
Bruce Fowler

Label:
Teldec Classics Int./Constantin Records

Release Date:
March 18th, 1997

Also See:
House of the Spirits
The Whole Wide World

Audio Clips:
1. Greenland: Anno 1859 (0:29):
WMA (188K)  MP3 (233K)
Real Audio (145K)

5. Who is the Mechanic? (0:31):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (250K)
Real Audio (155K)

7. Chase at Sea (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

10. End Titles (0:30):
WMA (195K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

Availability:
Limited commercial release in 1997 but completely out of print as of 2000. It became very difficult to find in America during the early 2000's, though copies began circulating on the used market in the late 2000's for $20 or more.

Awards:
  None.









Smilla's Sense of Snow

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Buy it... if you like filling the void of a silent room with consistent, subtle, synthetically atmospheric scores from the mystery section of the 1990's Media Ventures sound libraries.

Avoid it... if you are expecting the majority of the score to be the work of Hans Zimmer and have any remote semblance of the melodic, propulsive style that defined his most popular scores of the era.



Gregson-
Williams
Zimmer
Smilla's Sense of Snow: (Harry Gregson-Williams/Hans Zimmer) Based on the thrilling novel by Peter Hoeg, Smilla's Sense of Snow features a half-Inuit scientist played by Julia Ormand who is compelled to investigate the mysterious death of a neighbor boy. Naturally, the growing complexity of the circumstances of the boy's death begin to grow to full-blown conspiracy levels and the wintry adventure takes viewers on a tour of Denmark and its colonies with several top flight actors in tow. The murder mystery has a span of science that extends 140 years and, in the age of criminal mischief when concerning potentially scary discoveries, ends up dancing on the edge of fantasy and science fiction by its conclusion. At its core, however, Smilla's Sense of Snow is a slowly developing and soft mystery with occasional, thrilling jolts and an atmosphere of constantly dreary weather. Directed by Bille August, the film came and went through the theatres like one of the free-floating snowflakes in its tale, and even a film score featuring the popular name of Hans Zimmer flew largely below the radar. The score, interestingly, could be described with exactly the same words: occasionally thrilling but constantly dreary. By early 1997, Zimmer, already an Oscar-winner, had certainly hit his prime, and job offers were rolling in left and right. The previous year, the composer had satisfied a relationship with a director by accepting composing duties for The Whole Wide World but then turning the entirety of the scoring duties over to young arranger Harry Gregson-Williams, who in reality composed the entire score for that film despite major credit for Zimmer. The same situation presented itself in Smilla's Sense of Snow, although in this case, Zimmer did indeed write a few cues of material and contribute additional ideas for Gregson-Williams to utilize in his majority of the work for the project. With the Media Ventures enterprise taking shape at the time, the age of co-compositional credit and a concentration on the production of music by Zimmer for films had arrived. While this meant less original work for die-hard Zimmer fans to enjoy, it also gave Gregson-Williams opportunities in the same Media Ventures environment to establish himself and set his career in motion for projects like Armageddon and Enemy of the State the following year.

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The stylistic similarities between Zimmer and his apprentices during this period, as well as a common compliment of electronic equipment, often make it difficult to distinguish between the multiple artists' music in these combined efforts. The distinctions in Smilla's Sense of Snow may seem a little more obvious to learned film score collectors, however, with two or three distinctly Zimmer-like cues surrounded by ambient underscore that could maybe be passed off as his music as well. The key word here is ambient, for Smilla's Sense of Snow is much like House of the Spirits but without an attractive and memorable anthem as the thematic identity. It is a subtle and restrained score, one that often barely occupies the aural landscape. Without any dominant instruments in the higher ranges, the score has the capability of droning, necessitating an increased volume for listening in order to fully appreciate the nuances and sparse sound effects that contribute to that environment. The score's sparse primary theme is broad in scope but severely constrained in performance, never achieving a fully satisfying variation until the final cue, which serves as the score's only significantly orchestral piece. A few standout cues in the latter half of the score (after the story goes oceanside) present subdued rhythms and background choral mixes that were heard in The Fan and The Rock from the previous year. Even these cues, highlighted by "Chase at Sea," are heavily weighted by the morbidly dramatic and ominous mystery of the story, however. There is never an exhilarating explosion of activity by either the synthetic array or orchestra, leading to an inevitable debate about the usefulness of scores like Smilla's Sense of Snow on album. On one side, you have the detail oriented, intellectually curious types of listeners who believe that a score like this should be turned to maximum volume and appreciated for its subtle intricacies. On the other side, likely a larger group of Zimmer collectors utilize Smilla's Sense of Snow as a purely atmospheric, background listening experience, something non-distracting and inoffensive to fill the void of a silent room. Either way, if you're a fan of the composer's synthetically-enhanced expressions of force, be forewarned that this score, as mostly a non-descript, atmospheric Gregson-Williams project, has no passages exhibiting that excitement. It is a simple, predictable, and potentially boring score, but its droning consistency is its strongest attribute. **   Amazon.com Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For Harry Gregson-Williams reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 2.97 (in 31 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.03 (in 50,184 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.





 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  


Regular Average: 2.9 Stars
Smart Average: 2.95 Stars*
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 Track Listings: Total Time: 54:48


• 1. Greenland: Anno 1859 (4:14)
• 2. Isaiah's Theme (2:06)
• 3. Smilla Learns More (4:22)
• 4. Threatened with Jail (4:47)
• 5. Who is the Mechanic? (4:26)
• 6. Secrets of the Ship (7:11)
• 7. Chase at Sea (8:07)
• 8. Greenland Revisited (10:28)
• 9. The Truth Revealed (6:41)
• 10. End Titles (2:23)




 Notes and Quotes:  


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





   
  All artwork and sound clips from Smilla's Sense of Snow are Copyright © 1997, Teldec Classics Int./Constantin Records. The reviews and other textual content contained on the filmtracks.com 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 3/20/97 and last updated 9/29/11. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 1997-2013, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.