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Posts Tagged ‘James Horner’

AN AMERICAN TAIL – James Horner

November 23, 2016 Leave a comment

anamericantailTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

In the wake of the success of The Secret of NIMH in 1982, master animator Don Bluth began a collaboration with Steven Spielberg and Universal Pictures, who wanted to capitalize on NIMH’s popularity and produce their own animated film, the studio’s first since 1965. The result was An American Tail, the story of a family of Russian-Jewish mice who emigrate to the United States in the late 1800s, having been lured there on the promise of there being ‘no cats in America’. During their ocean crossing the family’s youngest son, Fievel Mousekewitz, is swept overboard and feared drowned; upon their arrival in New York, the remaining Mousekewitzes resign themselves to having lost their son, and sadly begin their new lives. However, Fievel has miraculously survived and makes his way to New York on his own, and the plucky young rodent embarks on a quest to reunite with his family, engaging in numerous adventures on the way. The film features the voices of Nehemiah Persoff, Erica Yohn, Dom DeLuise, Christopher Plummer, and the then-8-year-old Phillip Glasser as Fievel; it was a huge success at the box office, especially with children, who loved the film despite its dark tone. Read more…

THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN – James Horner and Simon Franglen

September 23, 2016 3 comments

magnificentseven2016Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The death of James Horner in June 2015, in a plane crash at the age of 61, was one of the most shocking events to hit the film music community in many, many years. It wasn’t just the fact that Horner was seemingly on the verge of a comeback, having written several classical pieces and new scores in the preceding year, and having signed to write several new works (Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge, Zhang Yimou’s The Great Wall, and several Avatar sequels among them); it was the suddenness, the randomness of it all, coming completely out of the blue with no time to prepare for a film music world without him. At the time, once the immediate grief and concern for his family had been addressed, thoughts naturally turned to his musical legacy, and all the great music he was yet to write, and which we would now never get to hear. As it turns out, Horner had one last gift to share – the score for director Antoine Fuqua’s remake of the great western The Magnificent Seven, starring Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, and Ethan Hawke as three members of a gang of gun-slinging heroes who team up to protect a town from ruthless industrialist Peter Sarsgaard, who is forcibly removing the inhabitants of a small Old West community for his own nefarious purposes. Read more…

THE NAME OF THE ROSE – James Horner

September 8, 2016 2 comments

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Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Name of the Rose is a murder mystery with a difference. Directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud, and adapted from the enormously popular 1980 novel by Umberto Eco, it stars Sean Connery as William, a 14th century monk who journeys to a Benedictine monastery in northern Italy to attend a religious conference with other scholars. However, the conference is disturbed by several unexplained deaths, and the monastery’s abbot (Michael Lonsdale) assigns William to investigate them. With the help of his young student Adso (Christian Slater), William quickly uncovers a hotbed of secrets, hidden desires, and political and religious skullduggery among the monks, leading to more murders as the perpetrator seeks to maintain hidden. The film, which co-stars F. Murray Abraham, Helmut Qualtinger, Feodor Chaliapin, and Ron Perlman, was unfortunately not a successful one in financial terms, but it has gone on to be something of a cult film in some circles, with critics likening Connery to a medieval Sherlock Holmes who uses ingenuity and intellect to uncover the truth, in stark comparison to Abraham’s fiery and superstitious bishop, who as a member of the Spanish inquisition sees witchcraft and devilishness under around every corner. Read more…

ALIENS – James Horner

July 21, 2016 5 comments

aliensTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Ridley Scott’s 1979 sci-fi horror masterpiece Alien was a watershed landmark, a seminal film that forever changed the genre, so it was something of a surprise that a sequel was not forthcoming straight away. With behind-the-scenes wrangling between executives at 20th Century Fox, and a script that languished in development hell, it actually took almost seven years for Aliens to hit the big screen, but with hindsight it was more than worth the wait. For me, Aliens is one of the greatest action films ever made; a blockbuster war movie allegory about the Vietnam War, inspired by several seminal works in classic sci-fi literature, written and directed by the young and hungry auteur behind the 1984 hit The Terminator. In James Cameron’s capable hands, Aliens became a masterpiece of tension and horror, pulsating adventure, and noble sacrifice. Read more…

WHERE THE RIVER RUNS BLACK – James Horner

March 24, 2016 2 comments

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Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

In 1986, despite having achieved a great deal of popularity and success for his large scale orchestral scores, James Horner entered what many call his ‘experimental synth’ phase, such was the film music zeitgeist at the time. It lasted several years, in parallel with many of his more traditional symphonic works, and encompassed such scores as The Name of the Rose, Red Heat, Vibes, My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys, and Thunderheart, but appears to have begun in earnest with this one: a little-known drama called Where the River Runs Black. The film was directed by Christopher Cain (father of TV Superman Dean Cain), and tells the story of a young orphan boy named Lazaro, who grows up feral in the Amazon jungle, but is eventually found and sent to live at a Catholic mission with a kind priest, Father O’Reilly, played by Charles Durning. O’Reilly cares for the boy, and teaches him to speak, and for a while it seems as though Lazaro’s life is settled; however, through a set of coincidental circumstances, Lazaro meets a local businessman and recognizes him as the man who murdered his mother when he was just six years old. Read more…

COMMANDO – James Horner

October 22, 2015 Leave a comment

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Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone were cinematic rivals throughout the 1980s, going toe-to-toe through a series of increasingly spectacular action movies, as they tried to out-shoot, out-fight, and out-muscle each other to the top of the box office charts. 1985 was arguably the year their battle commenced, as it saw the release of Stallone’s Rambo: First Blood Part II, and Schwarzenegger’s Commando, the first movie in which the Austrian Oak starred as a contemporary human being, after playing a fantasy warrior in the Conan series, and an unstoppable cyborg in The Terminator. Directed by journeyman Mark L. Lester, Commando saw Schwarzenegger playing John Matrix, a retired elite Black Ops commando who is forced back into action when Arius, the exiled South American dictator he helped depose, kidnaps his daughter, intending to blackmail Matrix into restoring Arius to power. The film, which also starred Rae Dawn Chong, Dan Hedaya, Vernon Wells, and an 8-year-old Alyssa Milano, was critically lambasted, but was a commercial success, and helped initiate Schwarzenegger’s career as a heroic leading man. Read more…

THE JOURNEY OF NATTY GANN – James Horner

October 15, 2015 Leave a comment

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Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Following his breakout year in 1982, when he wrote music for the box-office smashes Star Trek II and 48 HRS., James Horner spent the next several years solidly entrenched as one of the newest, most exciting young members of the Hollywood studio system, scoring several successful and popular features. After he proved his reliability when asked to replace Georges Delerue on Something Wicked This Way Comes in 1983, the executives at Walt Disney turned to Horner again in the fall of 1985, when they asked him to write a last-minute replacement for Elmer Bernstein’ score for the film The Journey of Natty Gann. Directed by Jeremy Kagan from an original screenplay by Jeanne Rosenberg, and set during the darkest days of the Great Depression in 1935, the film starred 12-year old Meredith Salenger as the eponymous Natty, a tomboy who sets off on a cross-country trek to find her father Sol (Ray Wise) after he leaves their Pacific Northwest home for Chicago in a desperate attempt to find work. En route she is befriended by a wolf, who travels with and protects her for much of her voyage, and even has a brief, innocent romance with another young traveler named Harry, played by a young John Cusack. Read more…