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Comments about the soundtrack for Windtalkers (James Horner)

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Re: I don't understand
• Posted by: Matt
• Date: Monday, May 13, 2002, at 6:34 p.m.
• IP Address:
• In Response to: I don't understand (Dan Sartori)

The reason we expect John Williams to produce five-star scores every time out is because of the enormous success he has had over the last thirty years. Maybe you do not like Williams's music as much as Horner's, that is your opinion, but like it or not that opinion is in the distinct minority. A three-star score from Williams is the exception rather than the rule, whereas it is the reverse for James Horner. Horner has composed some outstanding film scores, such as Star Trek II, Glory, The Mask of Zorro, Apollo 13, Braveheart...but the overwhelming majority of Horner's scores are rather average, merely functional scores which work for the film but not as well on CD. It is the opposite with John Williams; he's had some clunkers, such as Sleepers, Nixon, Heartbeeps...but by far his music is vastly superior to Horner's (I can't even fathom Horner writing music as bombastic and thematically rich as Star Wars, or as heart-wrenching as the theme from ET, or as threatening as Jaws, or on a lighter note as purely Christmasy as Home Alone). And don't give me any arguments about how the Titanic soundtrack has sold more copies than Star Wars: take that Celine Dion song off of it and it wouldn't have sold half as well.

So it's not that we give "breaks" to John Williams and are unduly harsh on Horner; this is what these two composers' histories and accomplishments to date have brought us to expect. I know there is a lot of Horner-bashing out there, and maybe some of it is a bit extreme, but nobody can argue with the fact that Horner DOES borrow substantially from himself from score to score. No matter how extreme the bashing is, there is always a basis in truth. John Williams is not immune to this, he'll write something similar-sounding to a previous work (such as the love theme from Attack of the Clones sounding similar to the theme from Hook). But nobody, anywhere, will mistake Across the Stars from Flight to Neverland. They may have roughly the same sequence of notes, but they have their own distinct sound and flavor to them. Horner's music is MUCH less unique, and can readily be interchanged from one film to the next.

So please don't say that visitors to this site have a "bias" towards John Williams. There is no getting around the fact (and this is a FACT, not an opinion), that John Williams's music is substantially more popular than James Horner's. Williams's music is popular for a reason, beyond simply the success of the movie for which it was written...IT IS GREAT MUSIC.

To provide perhaps a better analogy:

John Williams = New York Yankees

James Horner = Boston Red Sox

Sure, both are very good baseball teams, but when the World Series comes around, who would you expect to win?

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