In Defense of JAMES HORNER...

Craig S

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I don't hate Horner. He's done some fine work. Cocoon, Braveheart, A Beautiful Mind, Titanic... these and many others are great romantic scores.

But he has had his missteps. Take House Of Sand And Fog, for instance. That one started off promisingly, but as the film became more heavy-handed, the music followed suit. The result (for me) was that the movie turned into almost unbearable melodrama in its final act. I feel the score would have served the film better if the music had been more understated. But to be fair, the blame for this doesn't lie just on Horner - most composers work closely with their directors to get the feel they want, and it's possible that in this case the inexperienced first-time helmer of HoSaF steered things in the wrong direction. In the end, the composer's just a hired hand.

And while most of the "big name" composers "borrow" from themselves, Horner seems more blatant about it. I wonder if he just works too much. He does so many films that it wouldn't be too surprising to find out he gets a little lazy for films that he perhaps isn't too inspired by.

I suspect we're going to see more recycling in Troy, simply because he was brought onto the project so late, and the release date is cast in concrete. Almost any composer is going to have to reach into their bag of tried & true tricks in that situation.
 

Holadem

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I feel exactly the way, and I mostly blame the director. Even without Horner's score, that run through the hospital's hallways was quite cringe worthy. The material was so powerful on it's own the overbearing music could only detract from it.

--
H
 

Tim Glover

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I also like Horner's work. Titanic's score IMHO stands as one the most emotionally wrenching, haunting, and moving scores ever written.

When I first watched Minority Report, I noticed several familiar cues from that with Episode II. I think they all recycle to a degree.
 

Ray H

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I did. The "Across the Stars" generally sounds better and more emotional, but the Hook theme is basically the same tune (the main one at least) only more whimsical and faster.
 

Grant H

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Yeah, I noticed that as a little kid. I used to think they were exactly the same. I used to drive myself nuts trying to do one, then the other, and get them right. They're different, but you can drive yourself insane trying to sort them out. I'm trying not to think about them now. Thankfully, I must be losing my memory because I'm having trouble thinking of the the Raiders music exactly (actually it keeps morphing into Leia's theme from SW in my mind now AHHHHHHH!).

Actually, when I purchased the Raiders sountrack in college and listened to that the same day as the Empire soundtrack I noticed a very similar sound to both scores, not so much repeating things, but just the character. I think part of it was Williams was really at his peak then and both scores are really excellent, exciting scores. Maybe the fact he was scoring for the same dynamic Harrison Ford at around the same time influenced him too. I only wish it had been recorded better for Raiders. Quality isn't so hot even on the DVD.
 

Mikel_Cooperman

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That he rips himself of could be said for every film composer I have ever heard including Elfman and John Williams.
There are a lot more important things to gripe about.
 

Nick Martin

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Actually, Horner did NOT steal from John Williams. Both composers took it from Mahler’s 8th Symphony, but since so many people don't know that, they all assume Horner is taking from Williams.
 

Jefferson Morris

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From my experience, film music enthusiasts have been bashing Horner since well before Titanic. I actually recall the term "dripping diarrhea" being used to describe his Braveheart score in an old issue of Film Score Monthly. Ouch.

Me, I'm in the middle somewhere. I think Horner writes a damn good score every few years, but goes on autopilot (and repeat) for the scores in between. But I could never hate the man who wrote the score to Star Trek II, which is an all-time favorite of mine (In that case, repetition be damned - if you distinctly remember every note of music from Battle Beyond the Stars, you have bigger problems to worry about
.)

--Jefferson Morris
 

george kaplan

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I'm certainly as anti-Titanic as they come, but that doesn't lead me to feel one way or another about Horner. I don't even remember his score from that, but it certainly wasn't one of the reasons I don't like the film.
 

Tom-G

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Some of the complaints against Horner are warranted. There is nothing wrong with having a distinct sound or influence when it comes to musical scores but when you hear the cues it screams lack of creativity.

Horner seems to be guilty of the latter. The most recent example I can call to mind is Enemy at the Gates where I heard cues from Braveheart, Titanic Wrath of Kahn.

I hate to bring pop music into this, but it makes me think of Aerosmith. They have regurgitated their sound so much that they have become a parody of themselves. James Horner hasn't reached that level yet, though.
 

Kevin M

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...or I am a film music lover and I have these scores on LP/CD and do know them quite well enough to recognize similarities with other works, for instance it has been said that Horner in the first half of his career basically did one score (Battle Beyond The Stars) & repeated it with minor variations for years (then again his score for BBTS was highly derivative of Jerry Goldsmith's Star Trek:TMP score)....I don't necessarily agree but you can here distinct similarities in many of his sci-fi scores. 48:HRS even has a few clips in it but that is still a very interesting score that he has also clipped in his other scores....they all do as has been frequently mentioned so I won't totally condemn one and praise another.

BTW yes, his score for KRULL has also been a favorite of mine since 1983 & had been in my collection in many formats from LP to tape and two different CD releases.
 

DaveBB

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"A Beautiful Mind" is on ABC right now (I'd never seen it before) and the first time a musical cue played I was like "Damn, it's a James Horner score." Checked imdb.com and I was right.

Sounds exactly like his "Sneakers" score.
 

Ernest Rister

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I watch Aliens, Project X and Patriot Games.

I hear the same damn music cue in each film.

Goerge Bruns did the same thing in Sword in the Stone, 101 Dalmatians, The Jungle Book, and Robin Hood...the same *exact* music cue.

I chalk that up to sloth. You decide how you want to feel about it.

Shoot me.
 

Rob Gillespie

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I know which bit you mean - the opening credits music from Aliens - right? It crops up in Patriot Ganes but itself is almost a carbon-copy of Krachaturian's Gayane Ballet Suite as heard in 2001.
 

Ernest Rister

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Yup! That's the one.

For the Disney films, watch the scene in 101 Dalmatians where Perdita hides under the stove when Cruella comes to visit.

Then watch the scene in Sword in the Stone when Merlin apparates in the kitchen in front of Wart, who has been demoted for "popping off".

Then watch the scene in The Jungle Book where Mowgli tries to wake Baloo up.

Then watch the scene in Robin Hood where Little John thinks Robin has drowned in the moat.

Same damn music cue in each movie, courtesy of Mr. George Bruns.

In the first post on this thread regarding James Horner, the author mentioned diferent points of view on such matters...well, here is my point of view...

THPPHTTTH!
 

Dick

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Someone who has written as many scores as Horner has is bound to borrow from other work - his own or someone else's. I just can't imagine, for instance, a writer turning out fifty novels and never repeating phrases. So what? Look at all the highly UNIQUE music he has composed!

I admire Horner tremendously. The bottom line for me is: does the music elicit an emotional response from me, either as part of the movie-watching experience or during a listen to the soundtrack CD? If so, it works, and I don't care how many times a few bars or even a full theme has been used before.

I am actually grateful for one particular instance of a repeated theme: at the climax of JOURNEY OF NATTY GANN, when Natty jumps into her father's arms, there is a sweeping, absolutely gorgeous theme (a reprise of a theme used earlier in the film with sparser orchestration), which never fails to send shivers down my spine. But there was never a soundtrack album of this music released commercially. Therefore, when the same theme, albeit with a faster tempo, appeared as part of the LAND BEFORE TIME score, which was released on a CD, I was ecstatic.

The few Horner scores I actively dislike are his minimalist and "electronic" ones such as NAME OF THE ROSE, VIBES, CLASS ACTION and THUNDERHEART. Of course, all composers need to stretch and try new things, and I'd never criticize him for experimenting. I happen, personally, to be more into his fully orchestrated works. I especially love the layering of his strings. The ten-minute finale of FIELD OF DREAMS reaches into some part of my soul that few composers have been able to reach (short of Debussy and Vaughan Williams), and for that I will forever be grateful to this man. He has brought me countless hours of joy; and as any artist deserves to be judged by his best work, my opinion of James Horner is that he is a musical miracle. He has created so much best work!
 

Chazz_S

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My updated thoughts on this issue: wow Horner's score for Troy was absolutely bloody awful. It was distractingly bad. The movie not being too great certainly didn't help the score and vice versa.
 

KyleG

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Horner's score for Troy is horrible. It completely throws you out of the film at times. And it is unforgivable what happened to Gabriel Yared, the man responsible for the initial score for Troy. If you haven't heard what happened, check out his website, read the story, listen to the score, recall the score by Horner, and feel sad. Yared's score would have helped Troy, a film that needed all the help it could get.
 

Anthony R

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I heard the cue in Clear and Present Danger. I'm pretty sure I'm thinking of the same one you are. It plays over the Aliens main titles, soft strings that seem to spell out a pattern of intervals. I heard the same cue playing during a scene in C&PD while Jack Ryan pores over a stack of books looking for clues.
 

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