Tag Archives: Remembering James Horner Blogathon

Remembering James Horner: The Magnificent Seven (2016)

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.

See also:

Remembering James Horner: Troy (2004)

The magic of James Horner: Casper (1995)

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

The 4th Annual Remembering James Horner Blogathon has Arrived!

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Announcing the 4th Annual Remembering James Horner Blogathon


Unbelievably, it is time once again to announce the 4th Annual Remembering James Horner Blogathon which will be held from June 21-23 2019. I established this blogathon to honor the memory of composer James Horner, who tragically died in a plane crash in 2015. Participation is simple: Choose one of Horner’s film scores and talk about why you like it or what makes it special for you. It doesn’t have to be a detailed analysis (unless you want to go that direction), you don’t even have to talk about the entire score if you don’t want to.

For examples of blogathon entries from years past, I’ve included links to recaps of the past blogathons below.

3rd Annual Remembering James Horner Blogathon: Full Recap

2nd Annual Remembering James Horner Blogathon Recap!

Remembering James Horner Blogathon: Recap

If you’re not sure which film to choose, here is a link to James Horner’s filmography: James Horner Filmography

You can sign up for the blogathon by filling out the sign up page below. I need the name of your blog, your blog’s URL and the name of the film you’re going to cover. Each film can only be selected twice to avoid too many duplicates. Let me know if you have any questions and I look forward to reading your posts in June!

Remembering James Horner: Troy (2004)

trojan-horse troy the movie

Troy is a 2004 epic film that is a (greatly abbreviated) adaptation of the Illiad (which tells the story of the Trojan War). The film features a star-studded cast:

  • Brad Pitt: Achilles
  • Sean Bean: Odysseus
  • Brian Cox: Agamemnon
  • Peter O’Toole: King Priam
  • Eric Bana: Hector
  • Orlando Bloom: Paris
  • Diane Kruger: Helen

While not perfect, Troy is a good film with a remarkable score by James Horner. The music is even more remarkable when you consider that Horner put it together in the space of four weeks after Gabriel Yared’s score for the film was rejected.

For the score, Horner employed singer Tanja Carovska (who had also provided vocals for Yared’s rejected score) as well as using Eastern Mediterranean music and brass instruments to create a feeling of ancient Greece.

Troy Movie

Horner created several motifs throughout the score, a few of which I’d like to point out:

-The Greeks: The theme for the Greek army really emerges in full when they approach Troy in their thousand ships. It’s distinguished by a driving trumpet theme, highlighting the relentlessness of the Greek soldiers led by the egomaniacal Agamemnon. Most tellingly, it also re-emerges (briefly) just before the Trojan Horse is revealed onscreen for the first time, a musical hint that there are Greeks hidden inside.

The Greeks arrive at Troy

-Achilles: The theme for the legendary hero is also based on brass instruments, but it has a nobler tone than the theme assigned to the Greeks. Most notable appearance would have to be when Achilles storms the beach leading the Myrmidons. There’s also a reprise when Achilles heads off to find Briseis during the sacking of Troy.


Achilles on the beach (theme starts when Achilles jumps off the ship)

-Achilles and Briseis: The love motif for Achilles and Briseis (a Trojan princess turned priestess turned captive) forms the basis of the end credits song “Remember” as performed by Josh Groban. No matter what Achilles claims, I think throughout the story he remembers what his mother said, that if he goes to Troy he will never come home. So his love for Briseis is tempered by this knowledge, that’s why the theme is relatively sad for a love theme. A good example of hearing this theme is at the end right before Achilles dies and he tells Briseis to leave with Paris.

Troy “The Trojan Horse”

-The Trojan Horse: I’ve covered the music for the Trojan Horse in depth before, but I have to talk about it again because it really is my favorite musical moment in the film. Even if you’re not familiar with the story of the Trojan Horse, the sheer ominousness of the music tells you that there’s something fishy with this horse. But of course no one listens to Paris’ suggestion to just burn the horse where it stands (the one time he makes a good decision in the entire film) and the horse is brought into the city. The music is triumphant and tragic all at once, because the Trojans think they’ve won but in fact they’re doomed.

Horner’s score for Troy remains one of my favorites and I highly recommend it to any fans of James Horner’s music. It’s hard to believe he’s been gone for three years already, but as long as we keep listening to his music, he’ll never really be forgotten.

This is my contribution to the Remembering James Horner Blogathon, hope you enjoy it.

See also:

3rd Annual Remembering James Horner Blogathon: Day 1

You can become a patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

3rd Annual Remembering James Horner Blogathon: Full Recap

It’s finally time for the 3rd Annual Remembering James Horner Blogathon. Each day I’ll be posting a recap of what everyone’s submitted for the blogathon 🙂 I can’t wait to read all of your posts as well as add my own this weekend 🙂 Thanks again for taking part in this blogathon, have fun!

Reelweegiemidget Reviews looks at: The Hand (1981)

Plain, Simple Tom takes us to old California and examines: The Mask of Zorro (1998)

MovieRob looks at a golfing legend with: Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius (2004)

My submission this year looks at James Horner’s score for: Troy (2004)

MovieRob looks at Disney’s underrated film: The Rocketeer (1991)

MovieRob looks at one of my favorites: Casper (1995)

Kim @ Tranquil Dreams looks at one of Horner’s final pieces: The 33 (2015)

Cinematic Catharsis looks at an early piece with: Krull (1983)


You can become a patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

2nd Annual Remembering James Horner Blogathon Recap!

It’s finally here, the 2nd Annual Remembering James Horner Blogathon is here! Even before I woke up this morning day 1 is off to a good start with two amazing entries already. As I see new entries come up, I will add them to this list below. Enjoy!!

Day 1

Plain, Simple Tom Reviews: The Land Before Time (1988)

Movierob: The Pelican Brief (1993)

Listening to Film: “Nautical but Nice”: James Horner and the Music for Wrath of Khan

Listening to Film: “The Underappreciated” (Star Trek III)

Reelweegiemidget: Willow (1988)

Day 2

Sean Munger: Postmodern patriotism: Howard’s “Apollo 13” as history and mythology

MovieRob: Clear and Present Danger (1994)

Day 3

MovieRob: The Karate Kid (2010)

The magic of James Horner: Casper (1995)

Christina Wehner: Sneakers (1992)

Listening to Film: The Rocketeer (1991)

Tranquil Dreams: The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008)

Old School Evil: The Land Before Time (1988)

Thank you to everyone who participated!

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Remembering James Horner Blogathon: Recap

Wow! I can’t believe the Remembering James Horner Blogathon is already here! I’ve seen some great posts so far, here is a recap of Day One:

More will be added as they come, but it’s been a great blogathon so far! Thank you so much for participating and making this so much fun! See you on day 2 and day 3! -Bex

Day 2




Day 3


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

*This is part of the Remembering James Horner blogathon to remember the late composer James Horner (1953-2015)

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is (rightly) regarded as one of the best, if not THE best Star Trek film ever created. The film continues a story told in the Original Series episode “Space Seed” and brings back the villain Khan Noonien Singh (as played by Ricardo Montalban) to face off with Kirk and his crew once more.

Given how Star Trek: The Motion Picture suffered at the box office, Paramount greatly reduced the budget for the sequel and removed series creator Gene Roddenberry from the active production process. The music for the first film had been scored by Jerry Goldsmith, but with less money in the budget, he was no longer available. Nor was the second choice, Miklos Rozsa for that matter (though it would have been interesting to hear him score a Star Trek film). James Horner (who was only 28 at the time) was ultimately chosen because his demo music stood out from the group; this was Horner’s first big break into major motion pictures (his first credits after leaving film school begin in 1980). Horner stated once that the producers wanted a completely different score than what Goldsmith had given for The Motion Picture; it couldn’t be John Williams-like, but it still had to be different: more modern, more nautical. Horner did his best to oblige and the results are unforgettable.

In place of the grand theme created by Jerry Goldsmith for the first film, Horner created an entirely original theme and overture first heard in the opening credits of the film. This theme is repeated as the Enterprise leaves Spacedock (a theme I briefly discussed in the “Enterprise Clears Moorings” post below). What I love about this piece is the way the music audibly “ripples” as it builds to the climactic sounding of the main theme. I could literally visualize Horner conducting this music, and at times, I like to pretend that I’m conducting it as well. There’s a huge swelling of enthusiasm that wells up as the music grows and grows; which makes sense since the Enterprise is currently full of young cadets who have never been on a major space voyage before.

“Enterprise Clears Moorings” from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Another theme from this film that I love is “Surprise Attack” (originally covered in the post linked below). Horner related in several interviews that he created Khan’s musical theme to reflect the villain’s increasingly unstable mental state. For over fifteen years, Khan has obsessed over getting revenge on James Kirk, and now that he has his prey in sight, nothing and no one is going to stand in his way. “Surprise Attack” takes place when the Enterprise is being approached by the U.S.S. Reliant (which has been hijacked by Khan and his followers). From the opening notes, this theme is full of tension, created by contrasting Khan’s theme with that of the Enterprise (in a sense this could be considered Kirk’s theme as well). Khan’s theme is full of tension, rage and a thirst for war (lots of drumbeats and high shrilly strings and woodwinds), while the Enterprise/Kirk theme is dominated by lower, calmer strings and minimal percussion. Horner knew that in the upcoming battle scenes it would be vital to have two themes that were noticeably different from each other, to make it easier for the audience to keep up with which ship they were seeing (since there would be some very fast scene changes).

Star Trek II “Surprise Attack”

James Horner’s theme for Spock is also extremely beautiful and simple at the same time. It was created using a glass instrument that is something of a bowl and a chime, put together (think of how a crystal goblet will ring if you fill it with water and rub your finger on the rim). The theme highlights Spock’s devotion to Vulcan logic with it’s simplicity, there is not one note out of place. It is just the sort of music you might expect to find for a Vulcan. After Leonard Nimoy’s death, and again after Horner passed away, I played this theme several times a day for several days, as a way of saying goodbye to them both.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan “Spock” (1982)

Another theme that always tugs at my heartstrings is the conclusion of the “Genesis Countdown” (probably the last two minutes of the piece), which takes place when the crew is observing the formation of the Genesis Planet, unaware that Spock has given his life to save the ship. The moment when Kirk races down to Engineering (because deep down he KNOWS what has happened, even though McCoy won’t tell him) always makes my heart hurt, because I think we can all imagine the horror of that moment: racing down to find our closest, dearest friend, whoever that may be, already dead or nearly dead, and there’s nothing we can do to stop it. This moment remains one of the most iconic in Star Trek history, because this is SPOCK we’re talking about, one of the most important characters in the series. Typically, there’s an unwritten rule that says these major characters never die; to see this happen sent shock waves through the Star Trek Universe. Actually, Spock’s death was originally going to happen at the beginning of the film, but news of this leaked out so to preserve the surprise it was switched to the end of the film. I know that after Nimoy’s death, viewership of this scene spiked, because so many people associated Nimoy with Spock, that it seemed like a good way to say goodbye. I did a similar thing when James Horner passed away. I didn’t just listen to the Spock theme, and various other themes, I also listened to this part as well, because in my mind, I needed to let the pain of Horner’s untimely death go (film composers mean a great deal to me).

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan “Genesis Countdown” (1982)

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan “Spock (dies)” (1982)

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan “Spock’s Death” (Film Version) (1982)

I could keep going about James Horner and Star Trek II for thousands of more words, but I think this will do. I will say that I highly recommend the full soundtrack of this film to anyone who has not heard it before. The entire soundtrack can be found on YouTube, so if you have a spare afternoon or evening one weekend, give it a try, you will not be disappointed. And if you’ve never seen The Wrath of Khan, definitely give that film a look as well, you won’t be disappointed.

We lost James Horner over a  year ago, and I don’t believe the void he left will ever be truly filled. But remembering him in this blogathon was the best way I could think of to honor his legacy, and I think that if he were here he would like that very much. James Horner, you are truly missed. Keep making music up in Heaven!

*The Remembering James Horner Blogathon has begun today! Several great posts have already appeared and I’m excited to see what the rest of the weekend will bring. Thanks again for contributing, this means a lot to me. -Bex