The genre of the war film has always for some reason been a popular one. During the 1950’s and 1960’s many films had musical scores that at times were indeed as memorable or even more enduring than the memory of the films they were written for. In fact, it was not always the scores but mainly the theme that either opened or closed the movie that was the musical item that made people remember such films as 633 SQUADRON, WHERE EAGLES DARE and their like. In recent years there have been numerous war movies, taking their storylines from true events or fictional ones from many different wars let us face it there have been enough of them. But one thing that has been missing in the more recent productions is a score or a theme that the audience can identify with, a tune or a phrase even that they can latch onto and maybe even hum or whistle as they leave the cinema. The trend being for a composer to write largely a no thematic work, and place drone like soundscapes onto the film, ok in some cases it works as in DUNKIRK which although I have to say I hated the score did bring a sense of tension and a raised mood of apprehension and even hope to the proceedings. But other than the re-working of NIMROD I the closing minutes of the movie ther was no real theme, was there?
ENEMY LINES is a 2020 fairly-low budget movie, but the small budget has not in any way discouraged the composer Philippe Jakko from producing a stirring and highly emotive sounding work. The films story is set in the frozen war-torn landscape of Poland during the second world war. The story centres on a group of highly trained commandos who are sent into Nazi occupied territory to bring out a rocket scientist. Directed by Anders Banke and featuring in the lead roles John Hannah, Ed Westwick, Jean-Marc Birkholz, Pawel Delag and Vladimir Epifantsev. The music is largely symphonic and has to it a bittersweet sound that is not only inspiring, and action led in parts but also contains a deep and affecting element of fragility and poignancy. Although a war movie the composer fashions a rich and emotionally vibrant soundtrack, strings and brass working together to create tensions and purveying a more romantically slanted or pastoral sound on other occasions within the score. This for me was a wonderful listening experience from start to finish, the composers eloquent and delicate touch in places yielding an affecting sound, plaintive woods also come into the equation throughout and convey a sense of solitude as well as melancholy.
It is a score that I have to say please go and check out, as because of the COVID 19 situation the films premiere or screenings have for the moment been postponed, it is one of those soundtracks that you go into not really knowing what to expect, but once you begin to listen it is hard to stop and once you have listened through the soundtrack you feel compelled to go back and start again. On this occasion not to hear again what the music is like but to savour and appreciate it even more and appreciate the themes that the composer has created for the work, yes themes, this is a score that has them and they are haunting, effective and welcomed by this reviewer at least. Ok, there maybe not be a strident or bombastic sounding central theme or march that dominates or suddenly jumps out at the listener, but what there is here is plenty of soul and certainly lots of musical heart the composer writing in at times a low key way but this style becomes powerful and commanding because it is not intrusive but supportive. The action led pieces for example: AMBUSH PT 1, is certainly filled with tension and oozes drama, but there is also present an underlying sound that is less forceful and creates a sound that is patriotism and determination personified. THE CHASE too is an up-tempo affair, with strings and brass working together punctuated and supported by percussion to add a greater sense of urgency. The track MOTHERS DEATH, is a wonderfully mesmeric and beguiling cue, filled with so much emotion, so much sadness. Thus, conveying a yearning and a heartfelt sense of sorrow and loss.
Track 13 LOVE, too is hauntingly beautiful, with harp opening and then passing the piece to the strings and solo piano, which is a combination and performance that you cannot possibly listen to without becoming involved in the moment and emotionally entangled. This I know is a soundtrack that so many collectors will adore, the music has to it a contemporary feel but also contains a sound and style that is from bygone days of movie scores. It is a work that you will return to many times.
I have to say I have been following the work of this composer since hearing his score for the movie QUE D’AMOUR, which is also a work you should as a discerning film music collector check out alongside LE COUER EN BRAILLE and ALLIES.
ENEMY LINES is a Movie Score Media release and is available on digital platforms such as Apple Music and Spotify. Recommended.