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James Horner

It is no exaggeration to say that James Horner was one of the greatest film composers of all time.

Such measures are seldom objective, but Horner was the rare composer who could match critical and commercial success across a wide range of genre and material. Understandably, coverage around his death has focused on the biggest hits in his extensive filmography. He won two Oscars out of ten nominations. He occupied two of the five nomination slots in 1996 for his soundtracks to Apollo 13 and Braveheart. It is quite something to compete against yourself for an Oscar.

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Titanic tends to headline such discussions of Horner’s work, as one might expect given that it was “the biggest selling primarily orchestral film score in history.” More than that, Horner wrote The Heart Will Go On, the love theme that sold more than 15 million copies to become one of the biggest selling singles of all time and the biggest selling single of 1998. The Heart Will Go On is credited with revitalising the “spin-off hit” in the late nineties, prompting lots of movie-launched love ballads like Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing or There You’ll Be.

Horner enjoyed no shortage of commercial success. He provided the soundtracks to two movies that could claim to be the biggest movies of all time upon their release. Titanic was the first such example, becoming the most successful movie of all time upon its release in 1998. Horner also provided the soundtrack to Avatar, the movie that would claim the title in 2009. However, the most impressive aspect of Horner’s extensive filmography is the sheer scope of his work.

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Non-Review Review: Black Gold

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2012.

The problem at the heart of Black Gold is that its politics are too simple to fit within the confines of the epic sand-swept adventure that it sets out to tell. It’s hard to construct a standard epic when there’s no clear delineation between the forces of good and evil. While the stylish direction, larger-than-life performances and James Horner’s classic score may point to an old-fashioned adventure film, the fact we’re asked to sympathise with a protagonist burning men alive in tanks or engaging in terrorist tactics creates a surreal dissonance that the movie never quite gets past.

Riders in the sandstorm...

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