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Section Header
1995 American

1995 International

1997 "More Music"

1998 French Set

Composed, Co-Orchestrated, Conducted, and Produced by:
James Horner

Performed by:
The London Symphony Orchestra

Choristers of Westminster Abbey

Co-Orchestrated by:
Dennis Dreith

Labels and Dates:
Decca/London Records
(May 23rd, 1995)

Polygram/London Records
(October 7th, 1997)

London Records - France
(November 10th, 1998)

Also See:
Legends of the Fall
Apollo 13
Bicentennial Man
Deep Impact

Audio Clips:
1995 Album:

2. A Gift of a Thistle (0:30):
WMA (195K)  MP3 (243K)
Real Audio (151K)

4. The Secret Wedding (0:30):
WMA (193K)  MP3 (238K)
Real Audio (147K)

15. The Legend Spreads (0:30):
WMA (195K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

17. "Freedom"/The Execution/Bannockburn (0:31):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (248K)
Real Audio (154K)

1997 "More Music" Album:

6. Prima Noctes (0:28):
WMA (182K)  MP3 (226K)
Real Audio (140K)

7. The Proposal (0:31):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (251K)
Real Audio (156K)

12. "Sons of Scotland!" (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (243K)
Real Audio (151K)

13. Vision of Murron (0:30):
WMA (195K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

The original 1995 releases are all commercial products, in print, and can be found cheaply on the secondary market. The original American album has different artwork from identical releases in Japan and Europe.

The 1997 "More Music from Braveheart" album is a regular commercial release as well. In France, London Records produced the 1998 2CD set called "Tout Braveheart" with both of the other albums combined into one package.

  Nominated for an Academy Award, a BAFTA Award, and a Golden Globe.


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Buy it... if part of the attraction to this score is your affinity for the film, because the score is an integral and beautiful piece of the Braveheart tapestry.

Avoid it... if you are alternately a collector of James Horner's works and are expecting a unique and powerful experience on the same level of Legends of the Fall and Apollo 13.

Braveheart: (James Horner) There can be no discounting of the ongoing popularity of the film Braveheart, even more than a decade after its debut. The Mel Gibson epic, telling a romantic version of the Scottish legend William Wallace and his people's fight for territorial freedom, was an outstanding success at the time of its release in 1995, although the true sign of the film's legacy is its continuing, almost cult-like following many years later. Despite its graphic violence, disturbing methods of killing, and themes of romance lost, the film's quirky sense of humor combined with arguably Gibson's career performance to float the legacy with a maddening stream of interest. The same crowds that flock to the film's bandwagon often discover James Horner's score along the way, and these Braveheart junkies have caused the composer's music to reach phenomenal sales levels on two commercial albums. Profits from Horner's score on the Decca/London label outweigh all three of Horner's concurrent 1995 album releases on MCA Records (Apollo 13, Casper, and Balto) combined. And yet, the two most interesting aspects of Horner's music for Braveheart is its general lack of masculinity in the gravity of its performances and the systematic, obvious statements of typical "Hornerisms" with greater frequency, arguably, than many of his other works. The lack of genuine power in this score, especially compared to a work like Legends of the Fall, is a more nebulous curiosity, but the repetitions of style are as blatant as ever. As he has clearly stated, Horner is inspired by traditional Celtic and Scottish influences in his works (sometimes inserting them when not necessary, and some of his fans have become downright sick of particularly the Irish elements in non-related situations). Naturally, Braveheart would give him the opportunity to pour the latter ethnicity on with all of his romantic power, though the composer continued to blur the lines between cultural sounds, successfully counting on the fact that most listeners won't realize the inappropriateness of the application. After all, if Jerry Goldsmith could use pan pipes for Under Fire (set in Nicaragua), then Horner may as well pull from the Andes region as well and insert a Kena flute into William Wallace's fight for freedom. In the end, does it really matter?

For intellectuals, those few who will argue about whether the performances of the whistle in Braveheart stray stylistically towards either Irish or Scottish sensibilities, the answer to the above question will be obvious. But when you boil it down to the overall feel of Horner's achievement here, there is no arguing that Braveheart is an intensely attractive score when hearing it in the context of the film. Listeners unfamiliar with many of Horner's other works make up the vast majority of buyers of the Braveheart albums, so issues of instrumental technicalities and self rip-offs are moot. But for film score collectors, the score remains a problematic entry in his career because it is largely evidence of Horner's significant reliance on his own material in previous scores (as well as the foreshadowing of the future). When hoards of people within that community praise Horner's work for Braveheart as well, they seem to be willing to forget that it is one of the ultimate self-referencing scores from the composer, starting a trend during which, in the late 1990's, similar scores would instead be admonished for this very same behavior. Just because Braveheart has transformed into a cult film doesn't excuse Horner in this case for blatantly repeating several elements from his previous successes. In its favor, though, Braveheart features several redeeming aspects to its recording, extending the romantic pairing of modern orchestra and ethnicity into ghostly realms of beauty. The heavy romanticism, with deep string themes jerking the tears right out of audience, is a direct descendant of Legends of the Fall. The chilling boys choir's late performances are clearly derived from Casper. The swells of battle, highlighted by Horner's newly trademarked use of percussion at the time, take several pages from Glory. A secondary phrase to the title theme exudes the nobility of the concurrent Apollo 13. The final three tracks on the first album for the film are the culmination of Horner's best ideas of the prior six years rolled into one fantastic suite. It is, without a doubt, excellent music, but before you detail how Bicentennial Man, A Beautiful Mind, Enemy at the Gates, and other later scores by Horner exhibit his "borrowing habits" in a harshly detrimental light, you have to cite Braveheart as the grand triumph of re-use philosophy.

One aspect of Braveheart that remains extraordinarily overrated is its themes. Only three major ideas exist in the score, with the two softer romantic ones often blending together. The title theme heard famously on uillean pipes near the start of "Main Title" and "End Credits" is an appropriately respectful idea. Fragments of the theme extend over Thunderheart-like rhythms in "Revenge" and two extremely enthusiastic performances on pipes over bodhran drums (an Irish frame drum) in "Making Plans/Gathering the Clans" and "The Legend Spreads." The theme turns melodramatic on strings in "Sons of Scotland" before the highlight of the score hits audiences at the 6:05 mark in "Freedom/The Execution Bannockburn," when Horner states the theme in conjunction with its secondary interlude of nobility. The two romance themes mingle throughout the score, both receiving beautiful performances in "For the Love of a Princess" and the middle portion of "End Credits." The first of these two is the flowing string melody that shares its final bars with a theme from Legends of the Fall, and it also receives treatment in "A Gift of a Thistle" and, faintly, in "The Princess Pleads for Wallace's Life." The other romantic theme in Braveheart is far more tragic, punctuated by a gorgeous choral performance at 3:10 into "End Credits" that strongly recalls the melancholy tone of Casper. This theme additionally graces "The Secret Wedding" and "Murron's Burial" with similarly depressing tones. Both of these two romantic ideas receive performances by a Kena flute (the first one in "The Princess Pleads for Wallace's Life" and the latter in "The Secret Wedding"), and while these renderings are effectively pretty, the sound of the culturally misplaced instrument might be a distraction for some. The ever-effective combination of the London Symphony Orchestra and a boy's choir lends a familiar tone to the romance themes in "The Princess Pleads For Wallace's Life" and "Freedom/The Execution Bannockburn" (along with the "End Credits"). The action material in Braveheart is another highly overrated portion of the score. Both "The Battle of Stirling" and "Falkirk" fail to stir up a genuine sense of excitement (or even panic) at any point, a curious circumstance when considering that Horner was better able to pull upon his great action motifs of the 1980's in projects as flimsy in adventure as Sneakers.

1997 "More Music" Album:
Only $11.99
Both mainstream listeners and a healthy portion of Horner fans will argue that Braveheart is the composer's best work of 1995 and thus deserved to win Academy Award that year. Horner's supporters split their votes between this score and the more inspirational Apollo 13 that year, thus allowing the likeable but inferior Il Postino by Luis Bacalov to steal away the statue. Debates about the merits of Braveheart and Apollo 13 will continue, pitting patriotism versus romanticism. Technically and dynamically, Apollo 13 is the more memorable work. On album, Braveheart suffices as a strong background listening experience, with several lengthy passages of lush, but subdued underscore. The first Decca/London album contained a full 77 minutes of Horner's most significant material from the film and continues to be a sales juggernaut. As mentioned before, the final three cues are the main attraction, with Horner's suite of material for the "End Credits" often performed by orchestras around the globe. The artwork for the international edition of the first Braveheart album was altered to take advantage of actress Sophie Marceau's greater appeal in Europe. Due to the growing demand for Braveheart music as the cult following erupted and maintained itself, a second volume of music for the film was released by the same label in 1997; it motioned the beginning of a marketing habit by labels to release "More Music from..." for several years to come. The sequel album for Braveheart hasn't critically fared as well as those for Titanic or Gladiator, however, because the second Braveheart album really doesn't offer much of anything vitally new. Only seven minutes of previously unreleased Horner music is presented unimpeded by dialogue from the film, and while these tracks are pleasant enough, they don't feature a blockbuster cue to get excited about. Instead, the album relies on scenes taken directly from the film, sound effects and all, so that the album is a sort of audio souvenir from the motion picture. The traditional bagpipe songs in its contents are better suited for the film's enthusiasts than the majority of film score collectors. Overall, Braveheart is a well arranged collection of some of Horner's best romantic writing for lush orchestral situations, but if you want scores with a more unique punch, then Legends of the Fall and Apollo 13 are both more advisable. Price Hunt: CD or Download

    Music as Written for Film: ****
    Original 1995 Albums: ****
    1997 "More Music from Braveheart" Album: **
    Overall: ****

Bias Check:For James Horner reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.13 (in 98 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.19 (in 187,986 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

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 Track Listings (Original 1995 Albums): Total Time: 77:16

• 1. Main Title (2:51)
• 2. A Gift of a Thistle (1:37)
• 3. Wallace Courts Murron (4:25)
• 4. The Secret Wedding (6:33)
• 5. Attack on Murron (3:00)
• 6. Revenge (6:23)
• 7. Murron's Burial (2:13)
• 8. Making Plans/Gathering the Clans (2:05)
• 9. "Sons of Scotland" (6:19)
• 10. The Battle of Stirling (6:07)
• 11. For the Love of a Princess (4:07)
• 12. Falkirk (4:04)
• 13. Betrayal & Desolation (7:48)
• 14. Mornay's Dream (1:18)
• 15. The Legend Spreads (1:09)
• 16. The Princess Pleads for Wallace's Life (3:38)
• 17. "Freedom"/The Execution/Bannockburn (7:24)
• 18. End Credits (7:12)

 Track Listings (1997 "More Music from Braveheart" Album): Total Time: 68:31

• 1. Prologue/"I Shall Tell You of Williams..." (dialogue: Robert the Bruce) (3:35)
• 2. Outlawed Tunes on Outlawed Pipes (2:03)
• 3. The Royal Wedding (dialogue: Robert the Bruce) (2:12)
• 4. "The Trouble with Scotland" (dialogue: King Edward the Longshanks) (0:40)
• 5. Scottish Wedding Music (1:14)
• 6. Prima Noctes (1:46)
• 7. The Proposal (dialogue: Wallace and Murron) (1:35)
• 8. "Scotland is Free!" (dialogue: Wallace) (0:17)
• 9. Point of War/JonnyCope/Up in the Morning Early (traditional) (2:59)
• 10. Conversing with the Almighty (dialogue: various) (1:20)
• 11. The Road to the Isles/Glendaural Highlanders/The Old Rustic Bridge by the Mill (traditional) (3:52)
• 12. "Sons of Scotland!" (dialogue: Wallace) (12:09)
• 13. Vision of Murron (1:45)
• 14. "Unite the Clans!" (dialogue: Wallace) (0:23)
• 15. The Legend Spreads (dialogue: Storytellers) (1:07)
• 16. "Why Do You Help Me?" (dialogue: Wallace and Princess Isabelle) (0:37)
• 17. For the Love of a Princess (previously released score) (4:05)
• 18. "Not Every Man Really Lives" (dialogue: Wallace and Princess Isabelle) (4:09)
• 19. "The Prisoner Wishes to Say a Word" (dialogue: The Executioner and Wallace) (3:43)
• 20. "After the Beheading" (dialogue: Robert the Bruce) (1:48)
• 21. "You Have Bled with Wallace!" (dialogue: Robert the Bruce) (1:22)
• 22. Warrior Poets (dialogue: William Wallace) (0:29)
• 23. Scotland the Brave (traditional) (2:47)
• 24. Leaving Glenhurqhart (traditional) (3:32)
• 25. Kirkhill (traditional) (4:08)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The original 1995 album's insert contains minimal information about the score and film. The 1997 album offers notes about both, including the following: "The traditional Scottish bagpipe songs have been added as a bonus to keep the spirit of William Wallace and his warrior poets alive and to further enhance your listening pleasure."

Special performers include:

    Tony Hinnegan - Kena & Whistle
    James Horner - Keyboards
    Eric Rigler - Uilleann Pipes
    Mike Taylor - Bodhrán Drum & Whistle
    Ian Underwood - Synth Programming

  All artwork and sound clips from Braveheart are Copyright © 1995, 1997, 1998, Decca/London Records, Polygram/London Records, London Records - France. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 9/24/96 and last updated 9/11/08. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 1996-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.