It’s difficult for me to maintain objectivity as I process the death of James Horner, one of America’s great film composers of the past 50 years, who died Monday piloting his turboprop aircraft through the Los Padres National Forest in southern California.
Horner was only 61 and he had decades left in his storied career, one punctuated by iconic achievements in film scoring such as ‘Field of Dreams,’ ‘Glory,’ ‘Sneakers,’ and ‘Titanic.’
I’m just so angry at him. One would think that such a truly gifted artist owes it to himself and to his faithful followers to protect his talent from this kind of stupidity — this aviation arrogance — because he — objectively speaking — creates art for the ages.
And that’s how James Horner’s work came across: as big and epic and dynamic as the action images he infused with his soundscapes and as intimate, heartbreaking and poignant as the great actors he underscored.
There was a time when audiences would sit and listen to complete music ideas, emotional journeys expressed in expansive works like Mahler’s symphonies or Strauss’ Tone Poems.
But, the forces of distraction brought about by modern living have changed us all. What’s left of the classical idiom is the film composer — the ideal artist for the new age — and the short music cues he or she writes for the cultural touchstones we consume on weekends and birthdays.
And there was nobody better at capturing a single moment, a salient feeling than James Horner.
His most clever work has got to be the score he created for Phil Alden Robinson’s caper ‘Sneakers,’ where we see some of our favorite screen personalities — Sidney Poitier, Robert Redford and River Phoenix — spent two hours staring at various computer monitors, not exactly visually riveting. But it all works, thanks to James Horner’s effortless soundscapes, building tension when necessary and creating mystery out of whole cloth.
You can’t replace someone as gifted as James Horner.
How could he risk it all? I’m just so angry at him.–Ken Cancelosi
Nelson Carvajal is an independent digital filmmaker, writer and content creator based out of Chicago, Illinois. His digital short films usually contain appropriated content and have screened at such venues as the London Underground Film Festival. Carvajal runs a blog called FREE CINEMA NOW which boasts the tagline: “Liberating Independent Film And Video From A Prehistoric Value System.” You can follow Nelson on Twitter here.
Ken Cancelosi is the Publisher and Co-Founder of Press Play.