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Enemy at the Gates (Soundtrack) by James Horner

Review by Christopher Coleman


Enemy at the Gates (Soundtrack) by James Horner

Enemy at the Gates

Enemy at the Gates (Soundtrack) by James Horner




Originality 6
Music Selection 7
Composition 7
CD Length 9
Track Order 7
Performance 8
Final Score 7/10



Real Audio Clips


Track 12 - Tania




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James Horner


Quick Quotes

"James Horner is a double edged sword: his music almost always works perfectly with the picture but he never explores new territory. ENEMY AT THE GATES unfortunately doesn't buck this trend - it packs a hefty emotional wallop, but at a price -- it's loaded with moments plucked from the composer's own WILLOW, BALTO, and CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER among others." ***

Ryan Keaveney - Cinemusic Reviews Enemy at the Gates



Composed and Conducted by James Horner
Album produced by Simon Rhodes and James Horner
Released by Sony Classical Records March 13, 2001

James Horner makes his first entry of the new Millennium with his work for the WWII story of Enemy at the Gates.  It marks his first collaboration with director Jean-Jacques Annaud since The Name of the Rose in 1986.  Enemy at the Gates is certainly filled with classic Horner signatures, but wrapped around the familiar are a number of touches that make this a solid effort from James Horner.

My initial reaction to some of the sound clips of this score was skeptical, at best.  What I, and many others, heard were selections that featured portions of this score that are overly familiar to any James Horner fan and most film music followers in general.  From those advanced clips, my hopes were not very high that Enemy at the Gates would be an impressive effort, but resolved to hold final judgments until now.

It might be difficult to get past the number of motifs that Horner has used before, but if one can, there are a few elements that are there to be appreciated.  The same could be said with Horner's score for The Perfect Storm.  It contained many Horner signatures but offered one or two "new" elements that made the score, as stand-alone music, colorful.  Undoubtedly, Enemy at the Gates will be criticized for being another Horner self-ripoff, because many won't be able to look past those familiar musical components.

The story of Enemy at the Gates revolves around a love triangle set in the Soviet Union during World War II.  Such a premise begs for romantic themes and sharp military/action music.  In the past, Horner has certainly demonstrated his capabilities in composing both sorts of music.  With these two targets in his sites, does Horner hit the bullseye with his score?

Horner states that he wanted to create a "big Hollywood score for this movie;" however,  Enemy at the Gates contains so many elements from past scores, which were fairly large "Hollywood" types, that most would not group it in a "non-Hollywood" category.  There is just so much music here that could be interchangeable with Titanic that one has to consider this a big, Hollywood sort of score.  James Horner might be referring to the scores darker edge.  With low strings, bells, and Russian chorus emphasized throughout Enemy at the Gates comes off more foreboding than your average Horner score.

What is noticeably lacking on this CD release is a clear, romantic theme to contrast the darker, military pieces.  Instead the music maintains its darker, tragic edge throughout nearly the entire disc.  This choice is interesting in the fact that a memorable, love-melody would likely find itself transformed into another highly marketable, Will Jennings/ James Horner title song.  Again, maybe an example of Horner and company's "non-Hollywood" approach.  

Be this as it may, the score is not totally devoid of any romantic music. James Horner is known for taking themes which he introduces as secondary motifs in earlier films and later employing that theme, extending it and varying it to become the back bone of another film's score.  This is precisely what he does for Enemy at the Gates.  Here, Horner uses a motif first introduced in Re-Entry/ Splashdown sequence Apollo 13 and later used similarly for Titanic's memorable sinking sequenceOne would most easily recall this Titanic motif  being played on various brass and woodwind instruments.  The inherent tragedy found in this bit music makes it an easy choice to serve as the main theme for this particular film.  The theme finds its climactic and best performance in track 10, Betrayal.  Here Horner wrings all the emotion he can out of the simple theme and steadfast orchestra.

This album has been successfully produced for Sony Classical Records by the well-known team of James Horner and Simon Rhodes.  Interestingly, the soundtrack offers two extensive cues lasting over ten minutes in length:  The River Crossing to Stalingrad (1) and Betrayal (10). Each of them are among the best of CD, as they deliver the majority themes and motifs employed throughout the rest of the score.  The track that will likely become the collective favorite is the final track, Tania (12), where the main theme is given a rousing performance as well the Russian chorus.  Sony, once again, gives us plenty of Horner music, as they did with The Perfect Storm.  This time it reaches over 76 minutes, which could be paired down substantially. 

James Horner is not churning out nearly as many scores per year as he did in the early to mid 1990's.  One of his busiest years 1995 delivered some of his all-time greats including: Braveheart and Apollo 13.  Now that he has slowed down, I find it strange and maybe a little upsetting that his scores aren't a little more diverse.  Enemy at the Gates is disappointing when thought about in the context of so many of James Horner's scores from the 1990's.  Enemy at the Gates is a good score if it can be judged in isolation. With the introduction of the strong Russian elements, choral and otherwise, it has enough to keep most interested all the way through. 


Track Listing and Ratings

 Track Title Time


1 The River Crossing to Stalingrad 15:04  ****
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  ****

Total Running Time


Referenced Reviews
Braveheart | The Perfect Storm | Apollo 13



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