Unbelievably, tomorrow will mark four years since we lost composer James Horner in a plane crash. I established the Remembering James Horner Blogathon to celebrate his beautiful film scores and in my own small way keep his memory alive.
For this year’s blogathon, I decided to look at one of Horner’s final works, his score for the 2016 remake of The Magnificent Seven. There’s actually a pretty sad story behind this score. You’ll note the film was released in 2016, after Horner had passed away. Well, he’d been attached to score the film, but at the time of his death, the impression was the score hadn’t been started. But then, when his things were being cataloged in his old studio, someone discovered the entire store written and saved on his computer. It turns out that Horner had secretly scored the entire film as a surprise for the director, but of course had never gotten the chance to tell him about it. Now technically this score isn’t 100% Horner’s work. Simon Franglen was brought in to adjust and tweak the score after it was discovered, but I believe the vast majority remains Horner’s original work, the last of his scores to ever be released.
The soundtrack for The Magnificent Seven features Horner working at his peak, as always. Since this is a Western, there’s a noted “twang” in the strings, with I believe a mix of guitar thrown in to emphasize the Old West setting.
I was actually against this film at first (being a huge fan of the original), even after Horner’s passing, until I listened to the soundtrack in preparation for the blogathon and realized that Horner had taken the time to quote Elmer Bernstein’s original theme for The Magnificent Seven (1960). You can hear it particularly in “Volcano Springs” and in other places, but it isn’t quoted in full until the end credits. I love that Horner took the time to quote that iconic melody, since it really doesn’t feel like a “Magnificent Seven” film without it, not to me at any rate. This shows me that Horner, at some level, wanted to connect this film back to the iconic 1960 film, which is something he didn’t have to do, but I’m glad he did.
Horner definitely put his own stamp on this film score. I normally wouldn’t think of hearing drawn out vocals in a Western (“Street Slaughter”), but Horner makes it work as only he can (he was known for using drawn out vocals in his film scores, Troy is a good example).
It makes me sad, even now, that this was James Horner’s last film score, but I’m glad it was found in time to be used for the film. I honestly think this score is one of the best parts of the film, it sounds beautiful.
What do you think of the remake of The Magnificent Seven and its score? Does the fact that this is James Horner’s final film score change your impression of it in anyway? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day! Be sure to check out the official recap page of the blogathon to see the other entries as they’re posted.
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