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Comments about the soundtrack for Avatar (James Horner)
unremarkable sales figures for Avatar

ken wiggins
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GK
unremarkable sales figures for Avatar   Saturday, February 6, 2010 (5:49 a.m.) 
• Now Playing: Windtalkers  

The film world headlines have been dominated of late by the extraordinary global success of ‘Avatar’. Yet it is a surprise and a puzzle that sales of the soundtrack cd for the film fall well short of the box office triumph of the film itself. James Horner’s score is an immense achievement that should be reflected in much greater appreciation of his contribution to the film’s spectacular worldwide performance. Right for the opening section of the magnificent ‘You Don’t Dream in Cryo...’, with its eerie, unearthly female vocal, the listener is transported into the beating heart of Avatar, as the music unfolds into a taut, evocative orchestral passage, before flowing into a memorable stream of woodwind, synthesizers and strings. And that’s just the first track! Tension and suspense are built into ‘Jake Enters his Avatar World’, by skilful working together of percussion, woodwind, strings and disembodied voice, then launching into a sublime statement of the main theme in a rich, pulsating burst of orchestral power. Resistance is futile! Horner masterminds a hugely sweeping, ambitious score with all the expertise and experience at his fingertips. He combines synthesizers, ethnic instrumentation, percussion, solo voice, chorus, and full orchestra into a densely woven aural tapestry that is a beautiful and powerful companion to the compelling visualisations conjured up by Cameron himself. One of the themes of the film is the unique and strange mystery of the dream, and Horner’s music perfectly captures the sensation of being immersed into a dreaming state, freeing the imagination to fly wherever it chooses to go. I feel that the majority of people who have watched and enjoyed the movie must be eagerly seeking out and appreciating the stunning music contained on the soundtrack cd, but unremarkable sales figures show this not to be the case. I went to see the film in its first week of release, and I have listened to the cd dozens of times since; it is a highly addictive and rewarding experience! Many serious ‘Avatar’ fans and the cinema-going public in general seem to be overlooking the extent to which James Horner’s music forms a significant component of the film and its remarkable success. The soundtrack is out there right now–go out and buy it, and let its luminous music envelope you and recreate the dream of Avatar.


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GK
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ken wiggins

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Richard Kleiner
Which ad did you copy/paste here?   Thursday, February 18, 2010 (9:42 a.m.) 

Avatar may be listenable because it's a conglomerate of Horner's carreer highlights, but that hardly qualifies as a monumental achievement.


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Richard Kleiner
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Kurt
I agree. This score is heavily overrated (like the film)   Thursday, February 18, 2010 (7:43 p.m.) 

> Avatar may be listenable because it's a conglomerate of Horner's carreer
> highlights, but that hardly qualifies as a monumental achievement.

Much of the fault has to go to James Cameron. The lesson learned here is that if you're an extremely powerful director, you can make whatever movie you have in mind, no matter how derivative, and make it a success, and bully your way in the awards ceremonies.



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Kurt
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Richard Kleiner

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ken wiggins
Re: I agree. This score is heavily overrated (like the film)   Sunday, February 21, 2010 (11:37 p.m.) 
• Now Playing: Gladiator, Now We Are Free  

I also agree with this score being heavily overrated. While some soundtracks like Climbing Up Iknimaya or I See You performed by Leona Lewis are exceptional in my opinion this score shouldn't have been rated 5 star but compared to other soundtracks it should be decent on the 3 star rating.


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ken wiggins
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Kurt

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GK
GK
Re: I agree. This score is heavily overrated (like the film)   Tuesday, February 23, 2010 (11:52 a.m.) 

> The ‘Avatar’ score has a range of ideas and a musical scope that is quite remarkable. Many contrasting elements are expertly fused by Horner into a coherent and, yes, listenable work in a way that is far beyond the reach of Horner’s most ambitious scores of yesteryear, for example ‘Krull’ (1983) and ‘Willow’ (1988). I think the difficulty highlighted by many of the responses to the score is connected with the issue of style, and a perception that the music lacks creativity. It is undeniable that the score is stamped throughout with the hallmarks of Horner’s style. Because the soundtrack can be so easily identified as a James Horner effort, it has been argued that the score has no original substance. Yet careful listening to the cd reveals a composer meticulously marshalling a stream of ideas that flow from start to finish, albeit ideas that are very precisely channelled within the limits of his own trademark style, which he has been refining for the past 30 years. In short, Horner’s creativity, while very much active, is nevertheless tempered by an innate conservatism. It may be the perception of an underlying sense of compromise, of Horner playing safe, which informs some of the comments made on the quality of the music for ‘Avatar’. It is interesting that while James Cameron was unrelenting in his drive to bring the audience to a whole new world through his filming, his composer was inclined more towards staying rooted in his own world. This suggests a taut, and we have to believe, deliberately contrived, dynamic operating between the two–Cameron determined to fly, Horner sensibly waiting below him with a safety net. The results are not in any way a compromise, but the fruits of a perfectly balanced partnership between director and composer. Horner’s creations for the movie are brilliant precisely because of his intuitive understanding of Cameron, together with a mutually agreed view of Horner’s role in the ‘Avatar’ adventure. Underneath the superficialities of style lies a work that resonates with depth and substance; the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. The complete score manages to transcend its apparent limitations, ultimately forging an identity of its own. While this may not qualify it as monumental, it is nevertheless an achievement. Horner’s mission was to produce music that connects with the listener’s emotions, something even his sternest critics would admit he has the ability to do. If you can listen to ‘Quaritch’ at maximum volume on the headphones without totally freaking out, then Horner has failed in his mission. But listen to it again–you may be pleasantly surprised!


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GK
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ken wiggins
Re: I agree. This score is heavily overrated (like the film)   Friday, February 26, 2010 (6:26 p.m.) 

>>> Yet careful listening to the cd reveals a composer meticulously marshalling a stream of ideas that flow from start to finish, albeit ideas that are very precisely channelled within the limits of his own trademark style, which he has been refining for the past 30 years. In short, Horner’s creativity, while very much active, is nevertheless tempered by an innate conservatism.

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GK
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ken wiggins
Re: I agree. This score is heavily overrated (like the film)   Friday, February 26, 2010 (6:27 p.m.) 

> Yet careful listening to the cd reveals a composer meticulously marshalling a stream of ideas that flow from start to finish, albeit ideas that are very precisely channelled within the limits of his own trademark style, which he has been refining for the past 30 years. In short, Horner’s creativity, while very much active, is nevertheless tempered by an innate conservatism.

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