Tonight, on Twitter, I saw reports that James Horner’s plane crashed near Santa Barbara. At first, no one was sure it was him. His assistant confirmed it, and I was overcome with sadness. He was a tremendously talented man, and hugely influential on my appreciation of films, and of film scores.
His scores for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock contain musical cues, and themes, that I can hum on command. His work for Aliens contains mainly similar elements, to his Star Trek scores, but arranged in a distinct, and bone-chilling way. I have a playlist that pulls action pieces from those three (as well as from Cliff Eidelman’s Star Trek VI score) that I listen to sometimes when I’m driving around in LA traffic (it’s exhilarating).
Even some of his work on the “cheesy” things early in his career – like Battle Beyond the Stars and Krull – are full of bombastic, action beats.
Chronologically, I think the first film I heard his score for might have been The Land Before Time. It’s a heartbreaking, sweeping score, and the animated feature would lack weight without it. The scene where Littlefoot’s mother dies still breaks my heart, even though this is a film I saw in 1988.
Horner’s score for the Rocketeer captures a child-like wonder, as well as Americana. Glory‘s choral elements are very moving, and spiritual. Titanic has that element of romance.
To me, I’ll most often think of him when I hear the blaring crashes in Surprise Attack.
He will be missed.