Wednesday, June 22, 2016

James Horner, One of the Greatest Movie Composers, Died One Year Ago Today; Let Us Celebrate His Life, by Listening to His Greatest Score, to Field of Dreams


By Nicholas Stix

James Horner died in a plane crash. He was piloting one of those expensive but not terribly safe little planes, which seem to regularly fall from the sky. He was 61.

We didn’t hear about Horner’s death, until returning from our annual trip to Trinidad. Too often, those trips coincide with bad news: Andy Griffith, Ernie Borgnine, et al.

Ever since, I’d meant to write about Horner, but failed to. Of those topics I want to write on, I find music the hardest, and Horner’s work was the most moving of any movie composer of his generation.

In recent years, Horner’s career also seemed to have taken a dive. He composed his greatest scores between Field of Dreams in 1989, and The Perfect Storm, in 2000. He was nominated for ten Oscars for composing original dramatic scores and songs for movies. He won two Oscars in 1998, both for the score and song to Titanic, from 1997.

His greatest scores were to Apollo 13, Titanic, The Perfect Storm and Field of Dreams .

In 1995, Horner was nominated for Best original Score for Apollo 13, but was knocked off by Braveheart, which was scored by one James Horner. That paved the way for Luis Bacalov to win the Academy Award for his sappy, inferior score to The Postman.

Like so many movie masterpieces, a literal description of Field of Dreams’ story sounds like a collection of clichés. And so, it is. But with movies, everything depends on the execution. Thus, the greatest Western ever made, Shane, is based on two clichés: A range war between a cattle baron and “sodbusters” (homesteaders), and the man with a past—a gunfighter searching for peace, who walks into it.

Field of Dreams is about:

1. Man and God;
2. Baseball;
3. America;
4. Fathers and sons;
5. The 1960s;
6. Redemption; and
7. Harmonic convergence.

Harmonic convergence was a New Age idea, whereby all of humanity would come spontaneously come together.

My description is dead-on, and yet I make the picture sound laughable. And yet, Field of Dreams is a masterpiece, albeit one whose 1960s’ aspect is too strong for it to make the movie Top 100.

As aging hippie Ray Kinsella, Kevin Costner gives the performance of his career, and as Terence Mann, a writer who is a cross between J. D. Salinger and James Baldwin, James Earl Jones found one of the rare movie roles that could fully exploit his unique talents. Amy Madigan lent able support as Kinsella’s spunky wife. (Spunky, after all, is what Amy Madigan does.)

Field of Dreams Original Soundtrack - The Cornfield


Scoring Field of Dreams: A Conversation between Composer James Horner and Director Phil Alden Robinson

Thanks to aaldere1 for the upload.

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