Musical scores essential to films

Musical scores essential to films

The award-winning musical composer of 'Titanic,' James Horner, died in a plane crash outside of Santa Barbara on Monday evening.  Amazon

That being said, if Horner’s career brought light to anything outside of his sparkling talent, it highlights how altering a film score can really be. Would “Titanic” be remembered as fondly if Horner’s “My Heart Will Go On” wasn’t there? Would the magic, whimsy and occasional darkness of the “Harry Potter” films be remembered differently if John Williams’ score wasn’t ushering us through the hallways of Hogwarts? The list goes on and on – Max Steiner’s sweeping theme for “Gone With the Wind,” Williams’ epic score to “Star Wars,” all the way to Michael Giacchino’s tear-jerking opening theme to “Up” – but one thing remains true: These films, outside of standing tall in terms of acting, directing and technical aspects, are made in some way by the music running throughout.

If done right, a good film score can make the simplest of scenes stand out in your mind. Take for example Giacchino’s piece “Married Life,” which plays during the opening minutes of “Up.” What starts as a montage to a marriage takes a heartrending turn, and as the characters undergo their journey, this piece of music swells and slows from idyllic to heartbreaking over the course of a few minutes, while pretty much keeping the same melody. It’s a piece of music that hits you right in the heart, a true testament to the power of what music can do.

Similarly, looking at the career of James Horner is like looking at everything film can offer a moviegoer. From the outer space thrills of “Apollo 13” and “Avatar” to the battlefields of “Glory” and “Braveheart,” from animation (including “An American Tail” and “Balto”) to superheroes (“The Amazing Spider-Man”), Horner did it all. His last two projects – Patricia Riggen’s Chilean miner drama “The 33” with Antonio Banderas, and Antoine Fuqua’s boxing drama “Southpaw” with Jake Gyllenhaal, Forest Whitaker and Rachel McAdams – are due out later this year, but thanks to his work and illustrious career, Horner will live on long after those films leave the 
big screen.

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