A Salute to James Horner

By Parker Dixon June 23rd, 2015

A gifted and legendary artist died today, and I wanted to write a few short words of remembrance for a man whose career and life’s work undoubtedly touched so many people’s lives without them necessarily knowing it.

The first time I every really paid attention to James Horner’s work, I found myself in a 2 pm Friday screening of the movie ‘Sneakers,’  directed by Phil Alden Robinson (‘Field of Dreams’) and featuring Robert Redford and Sidney Poitier.  It was the fall of 1992, and I had lost my father the day prior to an aortic aneurism – hence my attendance in a movie theater rather than my 6th grade social studies class.  I was angry, I was still in shock, and I wasn’t in the mood to do anything other than curl up in my bed and cry for another 6 hours.  However, my mother – in her infinite wisdom – knew that we all needed the distraction, so she dragged me and my brother to see the flick at the local mall.

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In many ways, I attribute my fascination with film and its transcendent power to captivate to that screening of ‘Sneakers.’  True, it isn’t the most important or groundbreaking film I’ve ever seen or experienced, but it is a work in which all elements (script, performances, frame, direction, pacing etc..) operate together to cast a spell, and Horner’s score (featuring saxophone accents by Branford Marsalis) – in particular – transported me out of myself, away from my pain and grief, for 90 some odd minutes, and to this day I still find that profoundly remarkable.  From his soaring and light ‘Main Title,’ to the chilling, inspiring, and subversively unsettling movements encountered in “Too Many Secrets,” Horner was clearly a masterful composer back in 1992, and while folks in the industry undoubtedly knew it then, I don’t think the average Joe-theater-goer realized it until he won an Academy award six years later.

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River Phoenix, Robert Redford, Dan Aykroyd, & Sidney Poitier in ‘Sneakers’ (1992)

Clearly, my appeal to Horner is something special given the experience I had at a time of grief, but I wonder if many folks don’t realize just how pervasive his work is in main stream film and culture in general.  Just look at the man’s resume, and the gamut of emotions he has undoubtedly stirred in most of us:  Field of Dreams, Aliens, An American Tail (!!!), Braveheart, A Beautiful Mind, Jumanji, Apollo 13, Searching for Bobby Fischer, Glory, and – of course – Titanic.  (This is just a select few of his lengthy resume, btw.)

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So please, share your stories with us here at Wrong Reel, folks.  Any particularly spellbinding memories to Mr. Horner’s illustrious body of work?  Let’s celebrate his life and admirable contribution to all of our imaginations – holler at us on Twitter.

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A Small Handful of James Horner Movie Scores:

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