In Defense of JAMES HORNER...

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Nicholas Martin, Apr 21, 2004.

  1. Nicholas Martin

    Nicholas Martin Cinematographer

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    James Horner. The film composer that most love to hate.
    The endless accusations of 'self-plagiarism', That unfunny nickname bestowed upon Horner,"Anvil Clanker".

    To be sure, this is FAR from the only forum online where criticizing Horner's music is almost a game, but there are those out there, like myself, that truly love his music, and none of the hatred will ever change that, at least for me.

    The internet is a terrible place sometimes, because the anonymity we all share has overshadowed basic decency. We can all be complete jerks who throw insults at each other for the most insignificant reasons, just because we live secure in the knowledge that those who are on the receiving end of those insults won't come around and knock our teeth out because of it.
    It's truly refreshing whenever I read calm, respectful threads about subjects that inspire the most intense of rants, and that is what I hope to start here.

    I might as well begin with a few reasons as to why I'm not like most of you, some are film music lovers, some just casual movie fans, but who share your hatred of Horner.

    I love his music, because I don't have a lot of joy in my life, and Horner has excelled at creating truly emotional highs and lows, that for me extend beyond the film. I love all film music, but collecting soundtracks (at least in Canada) is an expensive little hobby, and therefore I buy Horner's albums, but enjoy anyone's music within a film.
    In terms of the whole 'self-plagiarism' issue, I never have any negative reaction to it, I just accept it.
    There are many theories about this issue, if you know where to look, and each of them are different, but equally valid. Just because I may recognize a melody,or other element doesn't make it bad-If I enjoyed it before, I enjoy it now, as well as the subtle changes made to it.

    I don't like comparing composers. I just enjoy what was created for a particular film, and I don't bother with the idea that if (insert composer's name here)scored this film or that film, I won't like it.
    It wasn't even Horner's music that turned my ears on to film music to begin with- It was David Arnold's music for ID4, a film that, although generally disliked, was praised for its score, which seems to have its initial inspiration taken from Horner's main theme for Legends Of The Fall. I even have the 2 CD-R 'Complete' score album of ID4 [​IMG]

    Anyway, I just wanted to know, where does your hatred for this man's music come from? Is it peer pressure of sorts- giving in to the majority? What exactly do you dislike? When did you first say,"I don't like this"?

    It's interesting that Horner is so often bashed, but is never out of work, regardless of the kinds of films, or their successes. "Troy", "Bobby Jones, Stroke Of Genius", "The Forgotten", those are his upcoming films, proving that regardless of what any of us has to say, love or hate, James Horner is a proven success.

    Any fair, respectful comments/questions/answers to my questions are welcome.

    P.S. I'm not stupid enough to think I can change your minds about this subject. I just want honest, intelligent reasons for all the hate. I can't change your minds and get you to like his music, just as you can't get me to hate it.
     
  2. Adam_ME

    Adam_ME Supporting Actor

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    I don't necessarily hate the man's music, but it is frustrating when he blatently rips himself off. Take a movie like Enemy at the Gates. A film I enjoyed quite a bit, but the score nearly ruined it. I kept hearing motifs from Braveheart, Wrath of Khan, and even Schindler's List(I guess he ran out of his own music to recycle).

    I realize Horner's not the only composer guilty of this. Everyone rips off classical music, and even the all-time greats like John Williams and Jerry Goldsmith have resorted to recycling their earlier work in the latter stage of their respective careers. Williams' "Across the Stars" from Episode II was nearly identical to the theme from Hook and Goldsmith seems to really love his U.S. Marshals score since it keeps resurfacing in all his recent work(Star Trek Insurrection and Along Came a Spider, for example).

    Honestly when it comes to hack composers, Horner's not at the top of my sh-tlist. At least his recycled work is still pretty good. Leonard Rosenman. Now there's the ultimate hack. He completely reuses his Lord of the Rings score for Star Trek IV and is rewarded with an Oscar nod for his work!
     
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  3. ThomasC

    ThomasC Lead Actor

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    I know Horner isn't the only composer to rip off his own scores. My favorite composer, Hans Zimmer, does it as well, but he doesn't make it so damn obvious. Same with John Williams, and again, I don't think he makes it so obvious. If I'm listening to something by Horner that has been copied by himself, I can instantly tell which movies they're from. Glory and Apollo 13 have glaring similarities, as well as Braveheart and Titanic. Parts of Williams's scores for AOTC and Minority Report were very identical, but Williams doesn't make the similarity as obvious. Horner's score for House of Sand and Fog was pretty good for the most part, except for those parts where he, once again, ripped off his own scores.
     
  4. Chuck Mayer

    Chuck Mayer Lead Actor

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    Horner is a composer who has some outstanding scores in him. While I agree that he recycles, I don't think he's much worse than most professionals. I enjoyed Jurassic Park this weekend, and I swear if I shut my eyes, I'd see starships and Jedi Knights in action. It wasn't that the music was recycled, just that he uses the same basic language.

    Horner's scores for Legends of the Fall, Braveheart, and especially Titanic and Glory (my favorite) are some of my very favorites. He also pumped out one of the legendary action scores of all-time...Aliens. I also really enjoy his WoK and Krull (yes, Krull!) scores.

    When he's not so creative, I give him a pass. But when he is, his scores are deep, rich, and emotional.

    Take care,
    Chuck
     
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  5. ThomasC

    ThomasC Lead Actor

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    Umm...you mean John Williams, of course? [​IMG]
     
  6. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    Only from the second sentence in what you quoted. It was pretty clear to me.

    The problem with blatant recycling is that it takes you right out of the movie. Otherwise, I wouldn't give a damn. I just don't want to be watching Episode I, and be thrown back into Indy 3 all of a sudden because of a nearly identical cue.

    Great thread btw.

    --
    H
     
  7. Steve Christou

    Steve Christou Long Member

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    I like James Horner, he's done some outstanding work in the past 20 years.
    Most composers recycle bits of their scores now and then, my favorite composer Jerry Goldsmith does it occasionally, so does John Williams, John Barry and Danny Elfman, the great Max Steiner did it all the time back in the Golden age of Hollywood, and I don't think he gave a damn what anyone said.[​IMG]
     
  8. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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    I agree, but then I also understand why some people feel his work can be too intrusive on the film. It's a fine line between evoking emotions WITH the film and dominating the film.

    Plenty of guys cross that line.
     
  9. Adam_S

    Adam_S Producer

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    Horner's Legends of the Fall is my favorite score (and the reason I have the dvd, for the isolated score). That said I've not heard an all out good score from him in a loooong time. I was absolutely loving the Missing, until some of Horner's stealing at a tense moment completely took me out of the film for a few minutes. I didn't have a problem with his work in House of Sand and Fog, but I did think that score was overwrought when played against the film, I should listen to it to by itself though.

    Adam
     
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  10. Chazz_S

    Chazz_S Supporting Actor

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    Wow, I never knew there was this sort of negativity towards Horner. Interesting. I think his work on Titanic was great- nothing else he's done was memorable enough to me to note.

    Howard Shore is probably my favorite composer just based on LOTR alone. What astounding work.

    I also like Silvestri and Williams. Danny Elfman's work on the original Batman and Edward Scissorhands floor me, though I've never heard anything I quite liked from him again.
     
  11. Adam_ME

    Adam_ME Supporting Actor

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    And once again, the "Ludlows" theme is a blatant ripoff of Horner's Cocoon score.
     
  12. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    Frankly, Horner doesn't really stick out with me one way or another. But then again, it's rare for me to watch a movie these days in which the score really resonates and is really original, or even memorable. I'm sure it just seems this way, but for me, it seems that older film scoring was more original and memorable. Bernard Herrmann, early John Williams (e.g., Jaws, Star Wars), etc. When you name some of these films, at least for me, the scores are so memorable they immediately pop into my head. But ask me about most of the films in the past 20 years, and I couldn't hum any of the score to save my life. I'm sure there are exceptions, and I'm sure I'm in the minority, but there it is.
     
  13. Magnus T

    Magnus T Supporting Actor

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    I'm surprised nobody has mentioned the hack Thomas Newman. He's 10 times worse than James Horner. [​IMG]
     
  14. Kevin Grey

    Kevin Grey Cinematographer

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    Never noticed any similarities between "Across the Stars" and "Hook" (one of Williams' most underrated scores) but I do think the "Harry Potter" score and "Hook" have a lot of similarities.

    As to Horner, yes he can be repetititive but anyone who scored Star Trek II, Krull (another fabulously underrated score), Aliens, Glory, Legends of the Fall, Braveheart, and Titanic will always be among my favorite composers. Hell, I remember being impressed by his Commando score when I was ten years old!
     
  15. Kevin Grey

    Kevin Grey Cinematographer

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    I love Thomas Newman. His sound is very distinctive so I can always tell when he scored a movie but I don't notice the same repitition of themes that Horner gets so much flack for.
     
  16. Richard Kim

    Richard Kim Producer

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    Me neither. I did however notice that the Indy/Marion love theme in Raiders of the Lost Ark sounds remarkably similar to the Han/Leia love theme in Empire Strikes Back.
     
  17. DougFND

    DougFND Second Unit

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    I guess I don't care if Horner rips himself off every now and then. It seems to be working.

    Braveheart and Titanic stand as his best work, in my opinion. Those may be the two best scores I've ever heard, regardless of the composer. His music for Legends of the Fall has helped the movie grow on me over the years, when I really didn't care much for it at first.

    While his Star Trek III score isn't really all that memorable, Star Trek II really stands out. I noticed it right away at 11 years old when I first saw it.

    EDIT: One last thought. Is the whole Horner-bashing just an extension of the Titanic backlash? Or, are people really disappointed in his repetitive scores?
     
  18. Peter Apruzzese

    Peter Apruzzese Producer

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    No backlash for me - I've disliked his scores ever since Battle Beyond the Stars, Wolfen and Trek II. I find his scores to be tuneless, derivitive, shapeless things with no redeeming qualities, marked by poor, thin-sounding orchestrations and uninspired conducting (check out all the wrong notes in Trek II and III).
     
  19. Dome Vongvises

    Dome Vongvises Lead Actor

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    No player hatin' here, I love James Horner score, especially as Glory is one of my favorite movies and scores.

    Of course, I'm also one of those people who are the very antithesis of people that continuously praise minimal scores, electronica, and silence as pure genius.
     
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  20. Jason Walstrom

    Jason Walstrom Supporting Actor

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    when i was about 14 or so I saw Aliens and loved the music, I mean I saw Aliens alot! Then one day Project X was on cable and I was puzzled, not to mention later on when I saw I believe (long while ago) Patriot Games. Not only has Horner borrowed from himself, he's borrowed the same exact theme for more than one film lol.

    Michael Kamen (R.I.P.) who's music I loved I noticed borrowed from his original music for The Dead Zone and repeated similar themes in the Costner western Open Range.

    Composers have done this but HORNER has done it blatantly. I still enjoy his music but it is a little ridiculous at times in his career. When I hear Newt's theme in another film it does pull me right out of it.
     

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