Wednesday, June 24, 2015

James Horner in Memoriam

Not to get morbid, but I wanted to write a something about one of my favorite composers. James Horner loss is monumental for today’s cinema. He was killed in a plane crash on Monday.   There are/wereL three great cinema composers for the modern age, John Williams, Hans Zimmer and James Horner. I’ll give the edge to Williams because I am more of a Star Wars fan, but Horner was every bit as good (I’m two sentences in and it’s hard to write in the past tense about him).  He was simply awesome. A great soundtrack/musical score can elevate a movie from good to great and a great movie to spectacular. Knowing what music to play in a movie greatly increases the scenes impact. Horner was magnificent at striking the right tone with music for specifics scenes. I won’t go into every movie the man composed, but I want to touch on a few of my favorites.
Star Trek II the Wrath of Khan. Really kicks off the Star Wars vs Star Trek debate. Trekkie I’m sure will favor Horner due to his iconic score in Khan. It hits all the right notes, from the unveiling of the Enterprise, Kirk getting left on the Asteroid, and the amazing end fight sequence.

Krull, read my review of my re-watch of Krull. I love the soundtrack of the movie. It sounds a bit like the Star Trek, but that’s ok, it worked for both. The soundtrack just screams fantasy movie. Love the French horns in the title sequence.

Willow is another fantasy epic, and one of my favorites from my childhood. The music accompanies our hero’s on their journey. It moves along with them, which is just what is called for since Willow must go on an epic adventure.  

The Land Before Time is one of my favorite non-Disney animated movies. The scene of the mother’s death still touches me today, and Horner did an amazing job with the music. It was a hard movie to watch when I was young because of the death. I didn’t want to watch with my boys because the scene was so emotional to me when I was a younger, (yes I know I’m a sap as well as a nerd and geek). The movie is a big part of this, without it the scene isn’t as impactful. It’s understated, but perfect for the sequence.

Braveheart. Do I really need to talk about this one? One of the best scores of all time, hands down.  The movie is great, the score makes it amazing. Right in line with Braveheart is Apollo 13. It is such a tense movie, and Horner’s score touches all the right notes.

Troy, not the greatest movie, but I loved the score. I liked the movie, probably because the score added to my enjoyment. Without Horner providing a great soundtrack the movie would be hard to watch.  Avatar wasn’t the best movie, but it was stunningly visually and Horner added to the epic feel of the movie with his soundtrack.

The best for last. Field of Dreams. What man/boy doesn’t tear up at the end sequence of Field of Dreams? Hell, I could tear up just thinking about it. The scene doesn’t have the same impact without the music. Try watching the scene without the music, it just doesn’t work. It is not just this scene, it is the entire movie. The mysticism and belief needed for the movie to work was extremely high, and Horner was able to provide a gateway to this belief with his music.

Simply put, I loved Horner’s work. His work enhanced movies and raised them to an astonishing level. He will be missed by millions of fans, and I don’t think I’m overstating this. People may not even realize they will miss him, but a giant hole has been left in movies today.  My thoughts go to his family and friends, and hopefully the soundtrack of his life lives on forever in their hearts. 

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