James Horner talks Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

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James Horner talks Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)

It is always invaluable to hear a composer speak about why he created a film score in a certain way. Just imagine if it had been possible to videotape Beethoven or Mozart speaking about THEIR works.

Resources like this become all the more valuable (and poignant) when the composer passes away suddenly. While many of the greats (including James Horner) have passed on, at least we have a portion of their thoughts set down and recorded.

In this interview, James Horner (who is greatly missed) talks about his thought process behind writing the genius score for one of the greatest Star Trek films of all time. After the critical failure of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, director Nicholas Meyer wanted to create a totally different feel and sound for the sequel. The director had a particular vision of “Horatio Hornblower in space,” which inspired Horner to create a distinctly nautical sound in the music for The Wrath of Khan.

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The score is also more heavily based on leitmotif’s, with very few “hummable” themes, a direct contrast to Goldsmith’s score for The Motion Picture (think of Ilia’s Theme or the Klingon’s Theme). There are a few subtle homages to Goldsmith’s score for The Motion Picture however: during Khan’s surprise attack, Horner employs the “blaster beam” which was used in the previous film as a notable sound effect for the V’Ger alien.

Horner’s score for The Wrath of Khan is widely considered to be the greatest score found in a Star Trek film, though some prefer Eidelman’s score for The Undiscovered Country. Again, I hope you enjoy listening to this interview from the late, great, James Horner.

See also:

Film Composer Interviews A-H

Film Composer Interviews K-Z

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