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Jack the Bear
(1993)
Album Cover Art
2001 Intrada
2018 La-La Land
Album 2 Cover Art
Composed and Conducted by:

Produced by:
Nick Redman

Orchestrated by:
Joel H. Rosenbaum
Labels Icon
LABELS & RELEASE DATES
Intrada Records
(November, 2001)

La-La Land Records
(June 5th, 2018)
Availability Icon
ALBUM AVAILABILITY
The 2001 Intrada album was a limited release of unknown quantity, available only through soundtrack specialty outlets. After selling out, it became a rare find on the secondary market. The 2018 La-La Land album is limited to 1,500 copies and available initially for $20 through the same outlets.
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AWARDS
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   Availability | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Audio & Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... only if you already have James Horner scores like Unlawful Entry and Once Around on your shelves, because Jack the Bear resides comfortably as a subdued cross between the two.

Avoid it... if you expect all your softly dramatic scores from Horner to pull at the heart strings, because the low volume and lack of spirit in this score fail to accomplish that task.
Review Icon
EDITORIAL REVIEW
FILMTRACKS TRAFFIC RANK: #1,083
WRITTEN 12/15/01, REVISED 8/30/20
Horner
Horner
Jack the Bear: (James Horner) The 1993 film Jack the Bear was director Marshall Herskovitz's attempt to add another compelling entry to the genre of films involving suburban family hardship from the perspective of a child. Despite featuring a reasonable cast, a serious subject matter, and a top flight composer for the score, Jack the Bear failed for a number of reasons, most of which related to the unnecessary move by the writers to shake the story up with Nazi undertones and other violent and unnecessarily scary scenes. Substantial disagreements between the director and lead actor Danny DeVito preceded endless editing and re-shoots in post-production. For what was originally a heartfelt tale about a son saving a father from the depths of despair, the film became fragmented by too many sensational and unexplained twists. None of this tumult ultimately helped James Horner's score, which suffered an equally tepid response from film score fans. Even as late as 1993, Horner was still actively involved in smaller, intimate projects, a choice that would guide the composer's later years after he tired of blockbuster demands. At the time, his well-known scoring assignments were mixed with several back-shelf films that had shown promise in pre-production but faded quickly upon release in the theatres. Utilizing an array of synthesizers for depth, Horner produced a score for Jack the Bear of minimal stature that relied heavily on the solo performances of the violin, piano, and flute to convey generally pleasantly melodic ideas in between challenging synthetic dissonance. The famed composer was no stranger to the concept of understated dramatic scores at that time in his career. His smaller scale efforts often fell into two categories: first, those that contained a theme, motif, or instrumentation that endeared the work to the hearts of fans and therefore thrived (Sneakers, Thunderheart, Searching for Bobby Fischer) and second, those scores that fell through the cracks because of their lack of memorable attributes in the minds of the majority of Horner's fans (Once Around, To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday, Class Action). Undoubtedly, Jack the Bear falls into the latter category, with enough endearing qualities to be effective in context but offering very little to distinguish itself in a career that pulled so effectively on the heart strings on other occasions. This is a work that has "auto-pilot" written all over it, despite some interesting moves by Horner to slowly develop the primary thematic idea over the course of the film.



Ratings Icon
VIEWER RATINGS
199 TOTAL VOTES
Average: 2.8 Stars
***** 28 5 Stars
**** 36 4 Stars
*** 47 3 Stars
** 46 2 Stars
* 42 1 Stars
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Track Listings Icon
TRACK LISTINGS AND AUDIO
Audio Samples   ▼
2001 Intrada Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 47:50
• 1. Main Title (3:01)
• 2. Exploring the Neighborhood (1:52)
• 3. Bogeyman Norman (3:06)
• 4. Flashback (7:27)
• 5. Dead Dog (4:27)
• 6. Bridge Talk (5:10)
• 7. Dylan's Gone (2:02)
• 8. Dad Learns Dylan's Gone (1:00)
• 9. Crying in Hospital (2:07)
• 10. Norman Attacks (11:17)
• 11. Jack the Bear (1:32)
• 12. Resolution & End Title (4:20)
2018 La-La Land Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 54:39

Notes Icon
NOTES AND QUOTES
The insert of the 2001 Intrada album contains notes about the composer, album, and film. (Included below is an excerpt.) The 2018 La-La Land album's insert also contains notes about the film and score.

    "James Horner begins the music for Jack the Bear with amazing simplicity. A brief melodic figure for piano, without harmony, without accompaniment. He ends the score with similar restraint. Solo violin, without harmony, without accompaniment. In fact, restraint characterizes all of the music for Jack the Bear. Once established, Horner allows a musical journey through tonalities both simple and complex, through material both fragmented and developed. The film's story is both sensitive and bittersweet. Interestingly, Horner keeps his material grounded in major keys rather than minor. There are two important melodies, both play in major. The first begins the score on piano, ends it on violin. It's a simple, unassuming tune, easy to spot. Just the opposite of the second theme. How this other theme emerges becomes the heart of Jack the Bear.

    The second melody begins as a disguised variation of the first, a "germ", an idea just hinted at. Again and again it appears, now on piano, later on flute. Then part way through "Flashback", in subtle fashion, one begins to realize the germ is working, evolving, finally becoming a rich theme for piano with soft string accompaniment. This new idea becomes the primary theme of Jack the Bear.

    Another strong feature of the score is harmony. Horner frequently rolls gently between two major chords, one full step apart. This allows a striking "raised fourth" interval in melodic lines, keeps tonalities in constant shift, yet remains within Horner's major key guidelines. Contrasting his simple architecture, Horner writes complex material for the "evil" elements of the story. He creates rare, dramatic shifts into minor using the unusual sound of bass harmonica. For tense, violent sequences, he takes the music into deeper territory, challenging the rhythms, exploding with atonal outbursts from his small ensemble.

    When the "Resolution and End Title" comes into play, so do most of Horner's building blocks. The simple opening melody, the haunting shifts between two major chords, the fully-grown main theme. Finally, when all is said and done, Horner brings his gentlest score to a simple, yet deeply affecting close."
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The reviews and other textual content contained on the filmtracks.com site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten
or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from Jack the Bear are Copyright © 2001, 2018, Intrada Records, La-La Land Records and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 12/15/01 and last updated 8/30/20.
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