Director James Cameron turned to Horner on three occasions, Titanic (where Horner picked up two Oscars), Avatar, and Aliens. Horner's music played a major part in transforming Cameron's genre movies into high-class prestige pictures. Titanic is a 1970s style exploitative disaster flick that has a slick gloss that pretties it up to be awards-worthy and the music plays a huge part in making it artful and prestigious.
The three pictures were grand special effects spectacles, but it was the music that dug memorable scenes into our guts and lifted us up to soar along with the action. It brought forth the artistry and amplified the magic. Aliens has one of the most pulse-pounding and nerve-crushing scores for an action picture that both rockets you forth with energy but then chills your spine in the darker and quieter moments. It is a masterpiece of scoring that helped turn the movie into an instant sci-fi classic.
Horner knew how to make emotion pulling compositions that heralded the pictures as something epic and can't miss. Pictures like Field of Dreams, Apollo 13, Braveheart, A Beautiful Mind and Glory are big event movies that stirred our feelings and emotions. Each of those movies have scenes that plunge right to our souls and linger inside us for years, and they're buried deep because of the perfectly accompanied scores that were innovative and unshakable. When I reflect upon my favourite moments in movies like Field of Dreams, I always hear the music playing in the background due to it being intertwined with the events as if it was a character. The movies that got Oscar nominations like A Beautiful Mind and Bravheart became awards-worthy thanks in a large part to Horner.
He played a big part in adding thrills and excitement in action fare that allowed us to race right along with the heroes. Movies like Patriot Games, The Rocketeer, Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan, Troy, and The Amazing Spider-Man flew above their genres due to their engrossing scores. Scores that trumpeted the big moments and most importantly, sucked us right into the adventure.
We have three more picture that will contain Horner scores this year in Southpaw, Wolf Totem, and The 33. All movies that are about the human condition and will be emotional roller coasters, which needed the Horner touch to pull them off. He was one of the truly great composers and he will be deeply missed.
RIP James Horner 1953 - 2015