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Movie Soundtracks of the Month: James Horner

May. 28, 2012by:

There are many things that make a movie what it is. It all starts with a story (according to what every How-To book on screenwriting tells us), there is the director and his crew, there are the actors, who bust their asses to bring a vision to life. Then comes the wonderful world of post-production. What is one result of that? The music. Soundtracks enhance the movie going experience. They can make us cry, they can pump us up, they can make us remember the 80's. Whether it be a musical band or a composer, soundtracks help our favorite movies stay etched in our mind forever.

This week we focus on the amazing James Horner, who coincidentally scored the upcoming Amazing Spider-Man. Horner has one of the most impressive resumes I've ever seen that extends all the way back to the 1970's, he has his distinct style if you know the man, but the best thing about him is his varied style of chose films to work on. I love variety in my composers, here is just a few of my favorites of his.

1. APOLLO 13

Let me put into perspective how much I love Horners score for this film. A while back my mother went through a phase where this film was on replay on her tv like a favorite song. If it wasnt for the engaging story of Apollo 13, and Horner doing what he does best to back the emotions were supposed to be feeling up, I would hate the very thought of this film by now. Fortunately for me, my mothers tv, and film history thats not the case. Its all about that re-entry into our lovely blue orb. Purchase the soundtrack here

2. BRAVEHEART

A few weeks ago, I saw an old trailer for the film Cast Away which features an excerpt from the Braveheart track below. The trailer reminded me how beautiful Horners mood setting tone was for this film. It makes me want to take a trip to Scotland and fall in loveor fight against tyranny. These are not emotions that one feels every day. Just another testament to Horners talent and the great material he had to work with. Purchase the soundtrack here

3. ALIENS

The anticipation for Prometheus has reached overdrive for fans of the franchise by now. Ridley Scott has returned to this world and we are all very appreciative for that. But here we have one of the few instances that a sequel to a very successful film brought its A game. A massively different tone than Scotts original and another great score by Horner demonstrated that. The film is in your face, and low and behold so is the music. Who would have thought? Purchase the soundtrack here

4. THE PERFECT STORM

From what I understand not a lot of peoples favorite film James Horner has worked on, but in my eyes its one of the most emotional pieces Ive ever heard from the man. Whether youre a fan of the film or not the subject matter packs a punch, and I was moved to tears several times thanks to Horners work here. Come on, we get it right from the films opening credits, these people know what their strengths were. Purchase the soundtrack here

5. GLORY

One of my favorite films that depict war, plain and simple, Horner made sure we felt the gravity of this subject matter like only he can. The track Ive chosen here could have been a make or break situation for the scene it accompanied, it made the sh*t out of it. That one scene, with this piece of music, with Denzels performancethere really are no words for it. Even as little punk teenager this movie was a kick in the gut. Near perfection. Purchase the soundtrack here

HONORABLE MENTION: FIELD OF DREAMS

Extra Tidbit: Please schmoes, feel free to give us a list and links of Horner scores you think I'm crazy for not including. Among mine are THE LAND BEFORE TIME and WE'RE BACK: A DINOSAURS STORY. Nostalgia.
Source: JoBlo
Tags: soundtracks

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12:48AM on 06/04/2012
Great stuff. Even if he does repeat himself a bit, he usually does it well (perfect example -- his 4-note bit from Willow has appeared in many of his scores but even when used again in Avatar, it's done well and creates a great score).

Good choices, man.
Great stuff. Even if he does repeat himself a bit, he usually does it well (perfect example -- his 4-note bit from Willow has appeared in many of his scores but even when used again in Avatar, it's done well and creates a great score).

Good choices, man.
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-1
2:40AM on 05/29/2012
His two greatest scores are Braveheart and Titanic. Casper was pretty cool as well.

Unfortunately his latest movies (like Avatar and stuff) weren't that great - but that's the problem of any Hollywood movie right now - no real theme anymore.
His two greatest scores are Braveheart and Titanic. Casper was pretty cool as well.

Unfortunately his latest movies (like Avatar and stuff) weren't that great - but that's the problem of any Hollywood movie right now - no real theme anymore.
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12:09AM on 05/29/2012

Other Honorable Mentions:

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids - Sure, Horner stole bits from "Amarcord" and "Powerhouse", but he used them to great comedic effect along with adding a great deal of suspense. I haven't seen the film in years, but I still remember the score.

Land Before Time & Fievel Goes West - Great scores and songs as well. Horner and Danny Elfman pretty much introduced me to the wonder of movie scores ever since I was a kid.
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids - Sure, Horner stole bits from "Amarcord" and "Powerhouse", but he used them to great comedic effect along with adding a great deal of suspense. I haven't seen the film in years, but I still remember the score.

Land Before Time & Fievel Goes West - Great scores and songs as well. Horner and Danny Elfman pretty much introduced me to the wonder of movie scores ever since I was a kid.
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11:56PM on 05/28/2012

YOU FORGOT

The Rocketeer. One of the most brilliant scores I have heard in a movie. It really takes you back in time.
The Rocketeer. One of the most brilliant scores I have heard in a movie. It really takes you back in time.
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11:37PM on 05/28/2012
Glory is THE BEST, but i must admit it's a bit over bearing
Glory is THE BEST, but i must admit it's a bit over bearing
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9:53PM on 05/28/2012
James Horner's scores appear on my iPod more than any other composer. For me he ranks right up there with Hans Zimmer, Bill Conti, Howard Shore and John Williams (well, no living composer can really compare to John Williams, but I was making a list). With that said, I do agree that occasionally he does tend to reuse themes that he has used in previous scores.
James Horner's scores appear on my iPod more than any other composer. For me he ranks right up there with Hans Zimmer, Bill Conti, Howard Shore and John Williams (well, no living composer can really compare to John Williams, but I was making a list). With that said, I do agree that occasionally he does tend to reuse themes that he has used in previous scores.
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9:28PM on 05/28/2012
The best composer of all time. Only person who comes close IMO is John Williams.

My favorite scores of his:

Glory
The Perfect Storm
The Mask of Zorro
The Devil's Own
Courage Under Fire
Apollo 13
Braveheart
Legends of the Fall
Clear and Present Danger
Field of Dreams
The Land Before Time
Aliens
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
The best composer of all time. Only person who comes close IMO is John Williams.

My favorite scores of his:

Glory
The Perfect Storm
The Mask of Zorro
The Devil's Own
Courage Under Fire
Apollo 13
Braveheart
Legends of the Fall
Clear and Present Danger
Field of Dreams
The Land Before Time
Aliens
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
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9:31PM on 05/28/2012
Damn! I forgot to put Titanic on my list. That movie also contains a great score!
Damn! I forgot to put Titanic on my list. That movie also contains a great score!
6:40PM on 05/28/2012
USED to LOVE his work, when it was so original and personal. NOW it's just so 'Horner'... Always the same instruments, themes, gimmicks...
Still, some time, there is still some magic in his work...
STAR TREK 2 (and 3 on some tracks)
KRULL
LEGEND OF THE FALL
WOLFEN
And most of those you mentioned
are still among my favourite scores...
USED to LOVE his work, when it was so original and personal. NOW it's just so 'Horner'... Always the same instruments, themes, gimmicks...
Still, some time, there is still some magic in his work...
STAR TREK 2 (and 3 on some tracks)
KRULL
LEGEND OF THE FALL
WOLFEN
And most of those you mentioned
are still among my favourite scores...
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4:31PM on 05/28/2012
He's the undisputed master of the CLANG-CLANG! CLANG-CLANG!
He's the undisputed master of the CLANG-CLANG! CLANG-CLANG!
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+5
11:49AM on 05/28/2012

Willow!

I used to dig his stuff, but he repeats himself so much nowadays, Avatar being a prime example. It's still a good list. However, Willow is by far easily one of his best scores period.

[link]
I used to dig his stuff, but he repeats himself so much nowadays, Avatar being a prime example. It's still a good list. However, Willow is by far easily one of his best scores period.

[link]
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11:11AM on 05/28/2012
Great list, but Mask of Zorro definitely deserved a spot or honorable mention. The main theme, the flaminco stylings, the tango, the sword fight in the courtyard, the sword fight in the barn, the finale...all some of his best work and it captures the mood of the movie perfectly. I was a pure fan of the live action tv show when I was a kid. I saw Mask as an 8 year old not knowing who Anthony Hopkins or Antonio Banderas were and despite an absence of Sgt. Garcia it became my favorite movie with
Great list, but Mask of Zorro definitely deserved a spot or honorable mention. The main theme, the flaminco stylings, the tango, the sword fight in the courtyard, the sword fight in the barn, the finale...all some of his best work and it captures the mood of the movie perfectly. I was a pure fan of the live action tv show when I was a kid. I saw Mask as an 8 year old not knowing who Anthony Hopkins or Antonio Banderas were and despite an absence of Sgt. Garcia it became my favorite movie with sword fights. (No adays Count of Monte Cristo has my favorite sword fight...but isn't the best movie)

Back to the point... the music in the movie was perfect and one of James Horner's best. I'm also surprised, but not upset that Titanic isn't included on this list.
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9:12AM on 05/28/2012
Horner is one of the most derivative and unimaginative composers working today. He hasn't been interesting in decades - his work is fragmented, disjointed, and repetitive.
Horner is one of the most derivative and unimaginative composers working today. He hasn't been interesting in decades - his work is fragmented, disjointed, and repetitive.
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5:55AM on 05/28/2012

One of the truly great composers!

His scores are always cinematic and epic most of the time> Unless he's working on something smaller like the Boy in the Striped Pajamas. Which had a great score in his own right. Hell I even truly love his scores for Titanic and a Beautiful mind. Even though I absolutely despise both of those films! AS for my personal favorite HOrner score not included on this list? Too many to name so I'll make my own top 5:
5 Star Trek 2 the Wrath of Khan
4 Casper (seriously, listen to it!)
3 Avatar
2
His scores are always cinematic and epic most of the time> Unless he's working on something smaller like the Boy in the Striped Pajamas. Which had a great score in his own right. Hell I even truly love his scores for Titanic and a Beautiful mind. Even though I absolutely despise both of those films! AS for my personal favorite HOrner score not included on this list? Too many to name so I'll make my own top 5:
5 Star Trek 2 the Wrath of Khan
4 Casper (seriously, listen to it!)
3 Avatar
2 Willow
1 Sneakers

Honorable mentions: Aliens and Krull
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5:11AM on 05/28/2012
The man who launched my love for movie scores... I still remember when I was 4-years-old at the theater for the first time seeing Land Before Time. I had to lean over and ask my mom who did the music. She was so proud. It's too bad that in the past few years he has slipped down my list of favorites... I also love his score for Something Wicked This Way Comes. He can do creepy very well.
The man who launched my love for movie scores... I still remember when I was 4-years-old at the theater for the first time seeing Land Before Time. I had to lean over and ask my mom who did the music. She was so proud. It's too bad that in the past few years he has slipped down my list of favorites... I also love his score for Something Wicked This Way Comes. He can do creepy very well.
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4:58AM on 05/28/2012
It's odd that James Horner, whom we credit with some of the most epic, sweeping and lush scores ever, was the same guy who composed the clunky techno score to Commando.
It's odd that James Horner, whom we credit with some of the most epic, sweeping and lush scores ever, was the same guy who composed the clunky techno score to Commando.
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10:42PM on 05/28/2012
WITH STEEL DRUMS!
WITH STEEL DRUMS!
3:45AM on 05/28/2012
James Horner, one of my absolute favorites, as far as film music goes.

Some of my favorites:

[link]

[link]

[link]
James Horner, one of my absolute favorites, as far as film music goes.

Some of my favorites:

[link]

[link]

[link]
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5:58AM on 05/28/2012
Nice links dude!
Nice links dude!
4:53PM on 05/29/2012
I was expecting the last one to be a Rickroll. :)
I was expecting the last one to be a Rickroll. :)
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