With the sudden death of James Horner on Monday, Hollywood has lost one of its most prolific and successful film composers for blockbuster movies. How will Hans Zimmer and Danny Elfman ever pick up all the slack he’s left behind?
With over 150 credits to his name, James Horner scored tons of movies you’ve certainly watched. Among the titles on his résumé were ‘Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan’, ‘Aliens’, ‘Field of Dreams’, ‘Glory’, ‘Braveheart’, ‘Apollo 13’, ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’, and of course ‘Avatar’. He won two Oscars for his work on ‘Titanic’ (Best Original Score and Best Original Song) and was nominated eight additional times. Whenever a Hollywood studio greenlit a big-budget tentpole movie, Horner’s name was undoubtedly always on the shortlist of go-to composers to score it. At the time of his death, he was working with frequent collaborator James Cameron on the upcoming ‘Avatar’ sequels.
The downside to this prolificacy is that Horner also had a reputation for recycling his own work. Most of his movie scores sound very similar to one another, and he was notorious for outright repeating certain musical cues and themes in just about everything he did. If you go back to rewatch some of his early work, such as his first big breakout job scoring ‘The Wrath of Khan’, you’ll immediately notice that echoes of it have carried through all the way to ‘Avatar’ and beyond. None of this is to imply that he was untalented, of course. Far from it, his scores were almost always extremely effective in the movies they supported, and he could be very creative and inventive when he wanted to. However, the familiarity did grow frustrating. And while most of the blame for it must surely be placed on Celine Dion, it’s kind of difficult to forgive Horner for his part in creating that damned “My Heart Will Go On” song.
I say that last sentence in jest. He was a big talent, and his death is an immense loss to the film community.
James Horner died Monday when the single-engine aircraft he was piloting crashed in a remote area north of Santa Barbara. The cause of the crash has not yet been determined at the time of this writing.
[Source: The Hollywood Reporter]