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The Mask of Zorro
Composed, Co-Orchestrated, Conducted, and Co-Produced by:
James Horner

Co-Orchestrated by:
Thomas Pasatieri

Sony Music Soundtrax

Release Date:
July 7th, 1998

Also See:
The Legend of Zorro
Deep Impact
Apollo 13
Mighty Joe Young

Audio Clips:
1. The Plaza of Execution (0:22):
WMA (161K)  MP3 (194K)
Real Audio (120K)

3. The Ride (0:30):
WMA (193K)  MP3 (241K)
Real Audio (150K)

8. Zorro's Theme (0:30):
WMA (195K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

12. Diego's Goodbye (0:31):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (243K)
Real Audio (151K)

Regular U.S. release.


The Mask of Zorro
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Buy it... if you truly want to hear James Horner take his trademark style of writing in a splashy and fascinatingly different ethnic direction, resulting in one of the most engaging and flavorful action scores of the digital era.

Avoid it... if you have no love for Latin instrumentation or were not impressed by the more robust and mature variation of this score in The Legend of Zorro.

The Mask of Zorro: (James Horner) After decades absent from the big screen, the legendary Zorro returned in the form of Antonio Banderas during a 1998 summer season otherwise dominated by underachieving disaster flicks. Martin Campbell's surprisingly enjoyable film fed off the both the mystique of the concept and the chemistry between its three leading stars. The film had a sense of charisma and enthusiasm absent from the belated sequel, The Legend of Zorro, and in many regards remains a guilty pleasure a decade later. For composer James Horner, the concept of Zorro's plight represented a stark departure from the genre of films for which he had begun to mechanically provide Irish-laced themes and instrumentation. In the process of adapting his comfort zone to fit the flamenco sounds with which he would define The Mask of Zorro, Horner finally accomplished what many of his long-time collectors had hoped for: a perfect blend of his typical mannerisms with a refreshing new set of ideas and instrumentation. In many ways, The Mask of Zorro is a Latin variation on the composer's popular Willow, taking the best thematic and instrumental tendencies from the 1988 score and performing a cultural rearrangement for the setting of early California and the flair of Zorro's personality. Horner himself was in no need of introduction to mainstream audiences at the time; his score for Titanic had just ended its four month dominance of the music charts two months earlier, and his mantle had just received two Oscars. His score for Deep Impact, released two months prior to The Mask of Zorro, was adequate, but did little to satisfy fans awaiting Horner's next major achievement. What those fans would hear in this film is perhaps more exotic than expected, for despite significant critical praise and long-standing respect in the following years, The Mask of Zorro never caught on with audiences outside of the moderately successful pop song that Horner adapted from his score. Still, this score and The Legend of Zorro are together a powerhouse pairing that exhibit the spirit of swashbuckling adventure and instrumental creativity that has been lacking from Horner's career in the years between.

While The Legend of Zorro is, on a technical level, a superior score compared to its predecessor (despite the significant plunge in the quality of the film itself), you cannot discount the effectiveness of The Mask of Zorro as its own work. Horner may have improved upon nearly every element of the music in the sequel (with the exception of the actual flamenco accents), but the first score is as entertaining as ever in its own right, with a few unique aspects of its own to distinguish it. Horner introduces the two major themes of the franchise in his opening cue, "The Plaza of Execution." The opening minute of this cue was absolutely unique to this film in Horner's career, starting with shakuhachi and acoustic guitar blasts that are joined by flamenco foot dancing and hand clapping sound effects at an ever-increasing tempo until Zorro's primary rhythmic device on guitar --perhaps a theme in and of itself-- explodes with trumpet and castanet accompaniment. The title theme takes the mariachi elements and bloats them to the performance depth of a full, symphonic ensemble, a style that continues throughout the score. The remainder of this cue, as Zorro stops an execution and whips up a frenzy, offers several variants of this title theme that would clearly delineate one of the composer's most memorable ideas in years. Aside from the catchiness of the actual tune, the use of castanets, maracas, tambourines, kena, zamponas, and shakuhachi flute are all used as fascinating percussion accents; the shakuhachi never carries a theme as it did in Willow, instead wailing as representation of Zorro's entry or exit from the scene, or puffing along with a rhythm a la Thunderheart. Traditional flute performances carry the secondary theme, representing Elena and the love affair, and Horner is quick to start pairing the Zorro and Elena theme as early as the final moments of "The Plaza of Execution." These two ideas would be inseparable in The Legend of Zorro, and the early overlaps in The Mask of Zorro suggest that the love theme might have been intended as a romantic interlude to the primary theme all along. This secondary theme also accompanies the sentimentality of Don Diego, the original Zorro played by Anthony Hopkins. His death scene ("Diego's Goodbye") features an outstanding flute rendition of the idea, suggesting a familial application of the theme as well.

The integration of these two themes into both this score and its sequel would be integral to their respective success. Horner masterfully alters the tempo of especially the title theme for Zorro, launching it with a sense of exuberance and high style that well matches the classic Alfred Newman approach. If only Horner would incorporate castanets into scores with the same frequency as his bagpipes, perhaps his music would be more interesting and stylish. Three of the action cues after the opening scene, "The Ride," (which was used popularly in the trailers for the film), "Tornado in the Barracks," and "Stealing the Map," all present stunningly frenetic and enjoyable variations on the theme, also serving as the most ethnically rich sequences. The pizzazz put forth by the trumpets alone is remarkable, and more often than not, a rowdy acoustic guitar rhythm leads the way. In most of these performances, Horner follows the action with lush renditions of either Zorro's theme or the developing love theme. The remaining action cues are slightly more anonymous in that very much mimic the material in Willow, with "Leave No Witnesses..." striking several similar notes. The infamous "Horner motif of evil" (otherwise a simple series four sixteenth-notes for brass) is employed in two cues for the purpose of suspense, most notably "Elena's Truth." A snare rhythm with chime hits and shakuhachi wails represents Montero in much the same fashion as the villains of Willow in "The Mine." A third theme in The Mask of Zorro is sadly underutilized and doesn't make more than a token appearance in the sequel score. In "Elena and Esperanza," Horner experiments with a theme for Elena outside of the one that ties her to Zorro. This idea's most relevant and poignant appearance comes at the end of "The Confession," and yet even here the theme is mostly swallowed up by the surrounding use of the overarching love theme. In the latter moments of "Elena and Esperanza," Horner seems to confuse the two, allowing the love theme to receive troubled, minor-key counterpoint potentially more suitable for the other, third theme. On the whole, this small complaint is really unsubstantial, because most listeners won't notice the Elena-specific theme anyway.

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A cue that needs specific mentioning is "The Fencing Lesson," one of the more humorous developmental ideas in the film and additionally one of the moments when the strikingly crisp sound effects of the film merge very well with Horner's music. It is in this cue that Horner makes the most out of his percussion section and soloists, taking simple triangle hits and castanet spasms and slowly building them into the recognizable Zorro rhythm for guitar as the younger man learns the trade from Diego. Eventually, a triumphant burst of mariachi fanfare signals the lesson learned. Additionally, bass strings pluck along with the guitar to create a fuller sound, reminding in ways of Jerry Goldsmith's more playful moments from The Shadow. The slashing of a cymbal to represent the swoosh of a sword, most obvious at 4:25 into "The Fencing Lesson," is the kind of creativity that more Horner scores could use. Overall, you can't help but get the feeling that Horner really enjoyed himself with The Mask of Zorro; whereas Deep Impact seemed to aimlessly go through the motions, this score is sharp, precise, funny, and resounding. Most of all, it's extremely memorable. On album, a welcome 70 minutes of score material is offered in outstanding sound quality and follows Horner's more favorable habit of being arranged into longer cues. A concert version of the two themes in "Zorro's Theme" is actually among the weaker offerings, with both themes receiving more impressive performances in surrounding cues. Because most ensembles wouldn't have the necessary specialty instruments, this orchestra-only suite presentation seems rather dull. The love theme is translated into a pop song, "I Want to Spend My Lifetime Loving You," that had potential if not for the slashing sound effects and cheap orchestral hits that diminish the style inherent in the melody itself. While this song would go on to receive considerable play on radio, it would take a more conservative mix thankfully absent of these effects. As for the score, The Mask of Zorro may not be as massive in scope or offer the incredible auxiliary action sequences of The Legend of Zorro, but some of its snazzy solo performances, especially in "Tornado in the Barracks" and "Stealing the Map," are more raw in their enthusiasm. Both works mark high points in Horner's career, and each is the best score released during its respective year. ***** Price Hunt: CD or Download

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 187,988 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 4.12 Stars
Smart Average: 3.87 Stars*
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   Re: The Zorro Dance Song
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 Track Listings: Total Time: 77:16

• 1. The Plaza of Excecution (8:28)
• 2. Elena and Esperanza (8:20)
• 3. The Ride (3:25)
• 4. Elena's Truth (4:11)
• 5. The Fencing Lesson (5:29)
• 6. Tornado in the Barracks (5:12)
• 7. The Confession (3:43)
• 8. Zorro's Theme (3:01)
• 9. The Mine (Montero's Vision) (3:00)
• 10. Stealing the Map (6:30)
• 11. "Leave No Witnesses..." (13:21)
• 12. Diego's Goodbye (5:31)
• 13. "I Want to Spend My Lifetime Loving You" - performed by Marc Anthony and Tina Arena (4:41)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert includes lyrics from the song (provided below) and extensive credits, but no extra information about the score or film. The trailers for The Mask of Zorro included the use of "The Ride" from Horner's score, as well as excerpts from Hans Zimmer's Drop Zone, David Newman's The Phantom, and original material from John Beal.

Lyrics to "I Want to Spend My Lifetime Loving You:"

Moon so bright, night so fine,
Keep your heart here with mine,
Life's a dream we are dreaming

Race the moon, catch the wind,
Ride the night to the end,
Seize the day, stand up for the light

I want to spend my lifetime loving you
If that is all in life I ever do

Heroes rise, heroes fall,
Rise again, win it all,
In your heart, can't you feel the glory?

Through our joy, through our pain,
We can move worlds again
Take my hand, dance the dance with me

I want to spend my lifetime loving you
If that is all in life I ever do
I will want nothing else to see me through
If I can spend my lifetime loving you

Though we know we will never come again
Where there is love, life begins
Over and over again

Save the night, save the day,
Save the love, come whay may,
Love is worth everything we pay

I want to spend my lifetime loving you
If that is all in life I ever do

I want to spend my lifetime loving you
If that is all in life I ever do

I will want nothing else to see me through
If I can spend my lifetime loving you.

  All artwork and sound clips from The Mask of Zorro are Copyright © 1998, Sony Music Soundtrax. 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 6/30/98 and last updated 3/16/08. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 1998-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.