Deja vu II: Another look at Star Trek II and Aliens

The late James Horner was well-known (and criticized) for heavily borrowing from previous work when he was making new film scores. The first Deja vu post looked at one melody that is shared between Horner’s two films Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Aliens. Not surprisingly, this was not the only melody in common between the two films and this post will look at a second one now.

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Credit to Paramount Studio

In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, the titular villain is introduced after Commander Chekhov and Captain Terrell beam down to the planet that Khan and his followers were marooned upon (in the events of the original season one episode “Space Seed”). The reveal of Khan’s identity is slow, with tension building in the music with strings and woodwinds. At last though, the mysterious character unveils his face and a terrified Chekhov whispers “Khan…”

the_wrath_of_khan

Check out the scene at the link below:

Chekov meets Khan again

When I watched this movie as a teenager, I originally thought that this exotic melody was an homage to Khan’s theme in the original “Space Seed” episode. However, when I went back and watched “Space Seed,” the music sounded nothing like the theme in the film. It wasn’t until I began to watch the movie Aliens that I made the connection as to where I had heard this theme (however briefly) before (originally I had seen Aliens first). In the film Aliens, Ripley is talked into travelling back to the asteroid where the xenomorph was originally found because Earth has lost contact with a colony established there. As the ship approaches land, a large object looms out of the mist: the atmospheric processing station. As they circle, you can hear the theme from Wrath of Khan once more at the beginning of the clip.

Aliens “Atmosphere Station”

Many critics liked to disparage Horner’s reusing of themes by calling it “unoriginal.” But I don’t agree with them. I feel that if a composer creates a theme for one film, and then feels that it would also work in a later project, then they should go ahead and use it.

For more Deja vu see also:

Deja vu: Hearing the same melody in different films- Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Aliens

Deja Vu III: The Klingon theme in Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Star Trek: First Contact

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3 thoughts on “Deja vu II: Another look at Star Trek II and Aliens

  1. Pingback: Film Music 101: Borrowing | Film Music Central

  2. Pingback: Deja Vu III: The Klingon theme in Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Star Trek: First Contact | Film Music Central

  3. Pingback: Deja vu: Hearing the same melody in different films- Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Aliens | Film Music Central

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