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Under Fire
Album Cover Art
1992/2000 Warner Albums
2008 FSM Album
Album 2 Cover Art
Composed, Conducted, and Produced by:

Orchestrated by:
Arthur Morton

Guitar Solos by:
Pat Metheny
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Pioneer (Japanese)
(August 25th, 1992)

Warner Brothers (European)
(October 23rd, 2000)

Film Score Monthly
Availability Icon
The 1992 Japanese import album sold on the American market for as much as $100 in the 1990's, but is now difficult to find. The 2000 German import sold in America for $20 to $25 and was readily available at online stores. The 2008 Film Score Monthly album did not have a specific, limited number of pressings, and it sold for a little above commercial retail pricing at soundtrack specialty outlets.
Nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe.
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Availability | Awards | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Audio & Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... if you seek one of Jerry Goldsmith's top five career scores, a beautiful and engaging combination of seemingly incongruous ethnic sounds handled with both care and crafty intelligence.

Avoid it... only if you're among the few deranged individuals on the planet who continue to protest the use of pan pipes (or customized PVC pipes from a local store, in this case) to incorrectly represent the culture of Nicaragua.
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WRITTEN 8/10/97, REVISED 9/10/08
Under Fire: (Jerry Goldsmith) While United Artists studio executives had high hopes of using 1983's Under Fire as both a political and popular tool, it suffered a more exaggerated version of audiences' responses to The Right Stuff from the same year. The production received critical praise, however, with a hot, contemporary plot detailing the real-life struggles of American journalists attempting to report on the 1979 governmental revolution in Nicaragua. Most of the film deals with the human element as seen in the most horrific of war zones, ranging from Chad, in Africa, to the turmoil in Central America. The year of 1983 was an excellent one for film scores, with a slate of Academy Award nominees that was well beyond most other years in quality. One of the nominated scores that year was Under Fire, which marked an achievement in instrumental integration that would lead to several successful years of orchestral and synthetic mastery in Jerry Goldsmith's works. Director Roger Spottiswoode had been enchanted by Goldsmith's score to Patton, specifically because the score captured the human emotions of war while also addressing the larger, grand stage of the conflict. When Goldsmith accepted the assignment of Under Fire, he was beginning his movement towards the heavy use of synthesized instruments (and mostly keyboarding) as an equal companion to a traditional orchestral ensemble. Historically, Under Fire was arguably his first major, widely recognized success in these endeavors, leading to other masterful combinations of electronic and orchestral sounds for Legend and Hoosiers (among others) in the following years, with the latter also nominated for an Academy Award. It was suggested that Goldsmith utilize a handful of solo instruments to provide the appropriate local accent for the Central American setting, and while the ultimate choices for the score weren't entirely specific to that particular region, they were appropriately Latin in a larger sense.

A solo guitar was employed to accompany cues both large and small, and pan flutes from the Andes region were meant to supplement the less intense, more intimate concepts. Goldsmith had correctly warned the studio that the pan pipe-laden temp track that it had used in the film (and wanted imitated in the final score) was not appropriate to the region, but his instructions were clear, and Under Fire was one of the few scores for which the veteran composer did extensive research into regional sounds that could help balance both the pipes and his intended use of synthesizers. The pipes, interestingly, were nothing more than commercial PVC piping cut to needed lengths, a frightfully effective display of creativity that should make any listener re-examine his garage. Regardless of the unconventional approach, the resulting combination of players and styles would turn out to be magnificent. Against the odds, Goldsmith manages to capture the essence of Central America very well, building upon popular rhythms and motifs with his solo instruments while maintaining the orchestral and synthetic elements that make the music accessible to non-Latin ears. To this end, he is even more successful than in either Extreme Prejudice or Medicine Man, which both took generally the same stance. His use of electronic keyboarding (placed directly within the orchestra) as a distinct rhythm-setter keeps the score moving at the necessary pace of the drama, and the solo instruments, rather than restraining their use to thematic performances, are utilized to produce the rhythms themselves in parts. The tone of the synthetic sounds are fascinating in their ability to invite an alien atmosphere in an otherwise battered, second-world environment, proving that their application can be very well handled in the most seemingly incongruous situations. Despite Spottiswoode's claim that the pan flutes are the heart of the score, that distinction really falls upon the acoustic guitar.

Ratings Icon
Average: 4.14 Stars
***** 539 5 Stars
**** 271 4 Stars
*** 115 3 Stars
** 61 2 Stars
* 52 1 Stars
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Read All Start New Thread Search Comments
Boiling Teapot sound in track Nr.4
kharol - September 13, 2008, at 11:35 p.m.
1 comment  (3150 views)
Under Fire
Robert Ebert - August 15, 2007, at 5:18 p.m.
1 comment  (2638 views)
Simply unique!
Reinhard Ende - April 11, 2007, at 8:01 a.m.
1 comment  (2249 views)
Wolf Anistase - February 26, 2004, at 12:51 p.m.
1 comment  (3143 views)
"Bajo Fuego" not written for film per se
Paul MacLean - February 18, 2004, at 3:38 p.m.
1 comment  (3348 views)
Goldsmith's best (and that's saying something!)
Tim - October 16, 2003, at 1:51 p.m.
1 comment  (2612 views)

Track Listings Icon
Audio Samples   ▼
All Albums Tracks   ▼Total Time: 44:48
• 1. Bajo Fuego* (5:36)
• 2. Sniper (3:27)
• 3. House of Hammocks (3:14)
• 4. Betrayal (4:19)
• 5. 19 De Julio (3:29)
• 6. Rafael (2:37)
• 7. A New Love* (3:46)
• 8. Sandino (3:39)
• 9. Alex's Theme (3:41)
• 10. Fall of Managua (2:29)
• 11. Rafael's Theme (4:11)
• 12. Nicaragua (4:14)
* concert arrangement specifically for album

Notes Icon
The inserts for both the 1992 and 2000 albums include extra information about the score and film, sometimes in various foreign languages. A note from the director is included in English. The 2008 album contains the usual excellent quality of textual information established in other albums of FSM's series, with extremely detailed notes about the film and score. It does not, curiously, feature any actual photography from the 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 Under Fire are Copyright © 1992, 2000, 2008, Pioneer (Japanese), Warner Brothers (European), Film Score Monthly and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 8/10/97 and last updated 9/10/08.
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