Tag Archives: Troy

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

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Troy (2005): The Trojan Horse, The Fall of Troy


Credit to The Cimarron Group

As I’ve mentioned before, I have an obsession with the film music of James Horner. One score of his in particular that I really love is his score for the epic Troy (2005), starring Brad Pitt as Achilles, Eric Bana as Hector, and Orlando Bloom as Paris. At the time this film came out, I was deeply interested in ancient Greek and Roman culture, to the point where I was considering archaeology as a career. My high school Latin teacher put this film on while we were discussing the Iliad (which is Greek, not Roman but that’s beside the point) and I was in love. Horner’s score grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go for the entire story.

Horner crafted distinct themes for this film: The Greeks have their theme, as do the Trojans, and Achilles is gifted his own unique theme as well. But one moment in particular, musically as well as visually, has always stood out to me. And that is the scene involving the Trojan Horse.


As the Trojans walk into view on the now-abandoned beach, the music begins low and alread ominous (with the faintest echo of the Greek theme dying away) before the camera begins to pan to the right and up to reveal….a giant horse. The music builds as the camera moves, climaxing in that reveal (because if you know the story of Troy, you know perfectly well what’s about to happen).

As they debate what to do with this “gift,” Paris (sensibly, for once) suggests that they burn the horse, while the others say it’s a gift to the gods and should be brought inside. The music, though low at this point, contains a haunting up and down motif, a brief foreshadow of the musical proclamation to shortly come. Paris urges his father one more time to “burn it.” While Priam (Peter O’Toole) gives no answer, the following scene (and its music), shows what his answer must have been, as we next see the great horse being dragged into the streets of Troy.

Troy- The Trojan Horse

Horner was in his element with this moment. Though the music is framed as a fanfare, something of a triumphal march, the melody is keyed between major and minor: the major representing the Trojans happiness, the minor because they’ve just doomed themselves to total destruction. This is the epitome of musical irony, and I get chills down my spine every time I hear it.

Troy- The Fall of Troy

After everyone’s gone to sleep, the Greeks break out of the horse and the music changes note entirely. During the procession and celebration, the music was bittersweet, now the tone is altogether “sneaky.” It’s the Greeks theme, but much faster (and softer) than usual (they have to be stealthy or the plan won’t work). Of course, with Odysseus (Sean Bean in a rare film where he doesn’t die) in charge, the plan goes off perfectly and the gates are opened with the enormous Greek army waiting outside. The Trojans don’t stand a chance. Two themes develop here: one is the theme of the sacking of Troy, which is very dark and action-filled. The other tracks Achilles’ progress as he frantically searches for Briseis (Rose Byrne) before the Greek army reaches the palace. All is chaos visually and occasionally musically. But the spot during the Fall scene that hits me the hardest is when Priam staggers out onto his balcony to see the city in flames. The music says it all: he’s failed his people, he knows it, and he knows there’s nothing he can do about it.

The Trojan Horse and the Fall of Troy-Soundtrack version

I’ve attached links for the corresponding scenes in the film and the soundtrack version of the music. Watch, listen, and please enjoy!

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