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Enemy at the Gates
Album Cover Art
Composed, Co-Orchestrated, Conducted, and Co-Produced by:

Co-Orchestrated by:
J.A.C. Redford

Co-Produced by:
Simon Rhodes
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Sony Classical
(March 6th, 2001)
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Regular U.S. release.
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Decorative Nonsense
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   Availability | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Audio & Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... if you are a devoted collector of James Horner's scores who unequivocally forgives the composer for his re-use tendencies.

Avoid it... if you'd prefer not to hear pieces of music by Mahler, Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff, and Shostakovich, among several blatant reprises of material from Horner's own career, repackaged into a frightfully unoriginal listening experience.
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WRITTEN 2/14/01, REVISED 1/3/09
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Enemy at the Gates: (James Horner) Director Jean-Jacques Annaud's career is littered with historical dramas that attempt to tell personal tales against the backdrop of difficult, true circumstances. His broad depictions of the battle of Stalingrad in World War II are quite effective in realizing the scope of the desperate fight between Germany and Russia on the Eastern front, though his insistence in rooting the picture in an ongoing duel between two sharp shooters and a love triangle on the Russian side caused an inevitably depressing conclusion reached only after sour action and character scenes that failed, for many critics and audiences, to engage the viewer. The film's grim portrayal of the horrors of Stalingrad is no picnic, and neither is James Horner's score. Horner has handled his fair share of serious, dramatic work for the war genre in his career, though his efforts in the several years prior to Enemy at the Gates had tended to sway closer to the realm of heartfelt family affairs. In the previous year, The Perfect Storm was devoid of any kind of epic, historical scope and How the Grinch Stole Christmas was dismissed as merely average by many of Horner's collectors, and for good reason. With Enemy at the Gates in 2001, however, Horner collaborated with Annaud once again (their early The Name of the Rose is still a curiosity for both men) to resurrect a sense of momentum and brutality not heard since Courage Under Fire. While his war epics are no doubt a tougher listening experience for casual Horner fans, Enemy at the Gates is a score of such an enormous magnitude that it may be of interest simply because of the sheer volume of massive sound that prevails for much of its length. As a companion to a film detailing the horrors of war, it is an appropriately charged effort of immense orchestral intensity, choral outbursts, and very few moments of respite from a perpetually turbulent atmosphere. Ultimately, though, the score would be best known for the criticism aimed at Horner due to his many seemingly obvious "borrowings" from both classical composers and, to an even greater degree, his own works.

The general tone of Enemy at the Gates is impressive in its alternation between desperate solitude and terrifying battle, shaking the walls with volumes of marching bombast not heard many times in his career. At the same time, though, Horner has seemingly let the romanticism of pride and love slip through the cracks in this work. With such a bittersweet romantic side story, the film caused many to expect the use of a melodramatic theme of superb elegance. Indeed, in contrast to the countless cues of suspense or outright war, Horner does provide a meandering and thoughtful love theme for the Tania character in Enemy at the Gates, but it encompasses so little dedicated time in the first half of the score that it easily becomes washed away. The mass majority of this score toils with the frightful environment of the battlefield, and, more specifically, Horner makes extensive use of his curling four-note motif from many scores of the past to signal danger. For Enemy at the Gates, Horner takes this motif and blasts it repeatedly, almost with unrelenting malice, until you reach such a point that you cannot really tolerate it anymore. The tension in the string section of the orchestra is domineering, often building to lengthy crescendos of loud and unwavering dissonance. The suspense in this score is a different variation of that which made the just previous Thirteen Days by Trevor Jones such an effective score. In that Jones work, there is a distinct sense of nobility throughout its unease. In Enemy at the Gates, Horner drops any notion of hope and produces a brooding and dark score of despair. Appropriate for the story it is, but it's extremely unsettling on the album. This sense of gravity makes Horner's more romantically elegant scores (such as Legends of the Fall) very attractive, but without any sense of sweeping beauty, the music here is devoid of any alluring characteristic. Even in the more lovely performances of Tania's theme, as in "Betrayal," Horner overlays the danger motif continuously, and the slight discord in his string layers continues an environment of marginal dissonance that keeps the score rooted in despair.

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Average: 3.52 Stars
***** 1,807 5 Stars
**** 1,911 4 Stars
*** 1,490 3 Stars
** 738 2 Stars
* 656 1 Stars
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Track Listings Icon
Audio Samples   ▼
Total Time: 76:40
• 1. The River Crossing to Stalingrad (15:14)
• 2. The Hunter Becomes the Hunted (5:53)
• 3. Vassili's Fame Spreads (3:40)
• 4. Koulikov (5:13)
• 5. The Dream (2:35)
• 6. Bitter News (2:38)
• 7. The Tractor Factory (6:43)
• 8. A Sniper's War (3:25)
• 9. Sacha's Risk (5:37)
• 10. Betrayal (11:28)
• 11. Danilov's Confession (7:13)
• 12. Tania (6:53)

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The insert includes no extra information about the score or film.
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The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten
or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from Enemy at the Gates are Copyright © 2001, Sony Classical and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 2/14/01 and last updated 1/3/09.
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