Tuesday, June 23, 2015

James Horner - RIP

It has been sadly announced today that legendary film composer James Horner has died from a plane crash. He was 61 years old.

Horner was one of the premiere talents in the game of scoring movies, particularly in the 80's and 90's. After cutting his teeth on B-movies for a couple of years, he quickly shot up the ranks with his breakthrough score for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. According to the film's director Nicholas Meyer, Horner was hired as a cheaper replacement for Jerry Goldsmith, since the studio balked at paying a high fee for him to return. This turn of events would reverse itself later when Horner wasn't hired for the sixth movie due to his expensive stip.

His powerful form of musical expression would help make classics of several 80's movies, most notably Aliens, Cocoon, An American Tail, The Land Before Time, Glory and Field of Dreams. I can attest that his work on Aliens is one of my absolute favorites and has become a major part of film history, especially since his tune "Bishop's Countdown" was greatly abused in a ton of movie trailers. Also, I couldn't tell you how many people, including my own father, have actively cried a river of tears with his scores for Field of Dreams and An American Tail. The latter film also allowed Horner to work on an original song for a change, earning a major hit with "Somewhere Out There".

The first half of the 90's had Horner actively working in movies of various quality. Though he had a few excellent scores with the likes of The Rocketeer, most of the movies are now considered forgettable blockbusters or highly dubious fare. These years of struggle would then turn to absolute prosperity, starting first in 1994 with his sweeping score for Legends of the Fall. He would continue his streak of epic dramas with Braveheart and Apollo 13, two of the most popular scores of the decade. However, he easily triumphed over these and all of his previous work with Titanic. His score and work on its theme song "My Heart Will Go On" made him utterly rich and finally gave him an Oscar for his brilliant work.

Horner really had no way to top his success in 1997. He continued on working in his usual wheelhouse, often switching between blockbusters and would-be breathtaking dramas. He worked again with James Cameron to bring more life to Avatar but since 2009, he has greatly slowed down. 2015 was to be one of his biggest years in over a decade, with his work being featured in the upcoming boxing drama Southpaw and November's Oscar hopeful The 33.

He will sorely be missed.

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