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James Horner's treatment of death in his music


curlytoot
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This may come off as a bit morbid, but I really don't intend it to. I know we've all been listening to/posting our favorite Horner cues and scores these past few days, but I was just thinking: this is a man who had scored music—great, tear-jerking, heartwrenching music—for the deaths of countless characters on screen. For such an emotionally resonant composer, I feel like it would maybe bring some level of comfort/solace (at least to me, probably to others here as well) to have a playlist/collection of Horner's musical representations of death and of the heartache and loss that loved ones experience. So, what are some classic, great examples of Horner scoring the death of a character in film?

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Spock's death is a great example from Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan and the subsequent renewal in ST3. That was a devastating moment when first experienced in the theater. Also great is Legends of the Fall battle sequence. I actually believe the importance of this material is not the dramatic death sequences but the subsequent renewal scenes that he nails.

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Jack in Titanic. I cried in the cinema.

I've never seen anyone cry during a movie. People talk about it a lot, but I'm starting to think it's an urban legend.

I've cried at home watching movies (The Green Mile, Requiem for a Dream, all three LOTR films, House of Sand and Fog, Synecdoche, New York, multiple episodes of The Sopranos and Fringe), but I don't think I've ever cried in a theater. I came pretty close in Gran Torino and Safety Not Guaranteed though.

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Oh, I cried. Trust me. What I remember most was not the famous Sissel vocal making me cry, but everything before when the lifeboat is searching for survivors and she tries to wake him up, which isn't on the album to my knowledge. It's very dark and unsettling material and a different approach from what Horner did with the album version. I'm not sure if it was tracked or just unreleased, but it was very effective, even if it wasn't what Horner intended.

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While not directly related to death, this track has always affected me. I don't remember off-hand what scene this scores, but it still reflects a feeling of loss for me.

The piano passage near the end really does it.

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Great topic that I haven't the time to add too. But great idea Curly

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Jack in Titanic. I cried in the cinema.

I've never seen anyone cry during a movie. People talk about it a lot, but I'm starting to think it's an urban legend.

I've cried at home watching movies (The Green Mile, Requiem for a Dream, all three LOTR films, House of Sand and Fog, Synecdoche, New York, multiple episodes of The Sopranos and Fringe), but I don't think I've ever cried in a theater. I came pretty close in Gran Torino and Safety Not Guaranteed though.

Synecdoche, New York? :blink:
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the aforementioned death of Spock in TWOK but maybe it's stretching it, but the final moments of the Enterprise as she streaks across the heavens -the loss of the Enterprise was effectively the death of a character. The music sounds mournful but there's a note that salutes her...to my ears anyway.

Not quite as emotive perhaps but the moment in "Betrayal" from Enemy at the Gates where we see Sacha's body hit home in the cinema when I first saw the film. One moment a soppy love moment and then seeing Sacha there.

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Movies I've cried in....too many to name.

there is nothing to be ashamed of for crying.

but if you cannot cry then you are dead inside.

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its easy to see people cry in the dark as the screen lights reflect on the tears.

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well I was actually looking at David yesterday during Inside Out. I could see the shimmering in his eyes as he sniffiled.

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Movies I've cried in....too many to name.

there is nothing to be ashamed of for crying.

but if you cannot cry then you are dead inside.

Wait. I don't get it. When people say they "cried" while watching a movie, do they just mean a tear kinda almost made it to the surface or do they mean they went into an hysterical fit of sobbing as if a close family member had just carked it?

It's like when people say a movie made them "laugh", do they mean they just breathed through their nose a bit more loudly or did the movie send them into an uncontrollable belly laugh? A movie has never provoked that latter kind of response from me.

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Movies I've cried in....too many to name.

there is nothing to be ashamed of for crying.

but if you cannot cry then you are dead inside.

Wait. I don't get it. When people say they "cried" while watching a movie, do they just mean a tear kinda almost made it to the surface or do they mean they went into an hysterical fit of sobbing as if a close family member had just carked it?

It's like when people say a movie made them "laugh", do they mean they just breathed through their nose a bit more loudly or did the movie send them into an uncontrollable belly laugh? A movie has never provoked that latter kind of response from me.

I was trying not to sob at the end of Without a Trace. I was trying not to sob in the Color Purple, I didn't even bother to try at the sneak preview of E.T. in 82. I didn't even try to stop in Toy Story 3.

As for belly laughs I had so many it's hard to remember, but the dancing scene in Bad Grandpa made me nearly hyperventilate. I am a very emotional man.

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Crying is just too extreme an expression of emotion that movies and TV have never been able to provoke from me. Because it's fake. It's not real.

It's like Seinfeld's girlfriend who was bawling while watching Beaches. I'd feel as awkward as Jerry if I were in that situation.

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the emotions are not fake, you're just dead inside.

watch the end of an Officer and a Gentleman, then the end of Terms of Endearment, and finish off by watching the ending of Without a Trace.

It will determine if you're actually alive.

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It sound like you can recognize the emotions but you're unable to feel them. Perhaps you're vulcan. Are your ears pointed.

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Oh I feel them, but crying (like real hysterical sobbing) is unnecessarily extreme. I mean they're just actors reciting lines and performing. I don't think even they are taking it as seriously as some audience members do.

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"Whittington's death" from WOLFEN (1981) is pretty good as a precursor for all those marine deaths in ALIENS but for me "Memories of Mom" from CLASS ACTION (1990) is such a poignant piece of music and very underrated.

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Oh I feel them, but crying (like real hysterical sobbing) is unnecessarily extreme. I mean they're just actors reciting lines and performing. I don't think even they are taking it as seriously as some audience members do.

What's the point of watching movies and TV if you don't let yourself be drawn into the worlds these people have created? I cry all the time when watching stuff, and occasionally with meaningful songs too.
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I gey drawn into it. For example, I've recently been heavily drawn into the Buffyverse, not whenever a character I liked got killed off, I was like "Fuck off, Joss! Your itchy tigger finger is grating!"

But cry? As in tears flowing and a lot of "wah wah!"? If mother caught me doing that, she'd laugh her arse off and tell me to grow up.

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Some of Horner's best tributes have come for those already dead. I felt the finale of TWOK was a more moving affectation of Spock's passing than the death scene itself. And the way Field of Dreams honors the relationship, regret, and reconciliation between Ray and his father throughout the film (and especially at the end) was magnificent.

the aforementioned death of Spock in TWOK but maybe it's stretching it, but the final moments of the Enterprise as she streaks across the heavens -the loss of the Enterprise was effectively the death of a character. The music sounds mournful but there's a note that salutes her...to my ears anyway.

I was going to mention that example too! It was a fitting, mournful end to a "character" that had been around since the beginning.

Jack in Titanic. I cried in the cinema.


I've never seen anyone cry during a movie. People talk about it a lot, but I'm starting to think it's an urban legend.

When I saw Titanic in the theaters, there was a group of junior-high girls a few rows in front of us. As Rose and Jack were saying their goodbyes on the wooden headboard, they were bawling. I mean, they were completely puddled out. It was pretty pathetic (and more than a little annoying). So I suppose it does happen to that extent once in a while.

Wow, people must get pretty emotional.

Those who allow themselves to experience emotions, yes.

Wait. I don't get it. When people say they "cried" while watching a movie, do they just mean a tear kinda almost made it to the surface or do they mean they went into an hysterical fit of sobbing as if a close family member had just carked it?


It's like when people say a movie made them "laugh", do they mean they just breathed through their nose a bit more loudly or did the movie send them into an uncontrollable belly laugh? A movie has never provoked that latter kind of response from me.

Why does it have to be one absolute extreme or another? When people talk about "crying" in a movie, they usually mean tearing up. Not crumbling to pieces (like the junior high crew). And not merely "almost-kinda-thinkin'" about a tear coming close to the surface. They manifest. We wipe them away. It means a movie's gotten to you (in the best kind of way), that's all.

The laughing usually happens in the middle ground as well—although sometimes it's just a smile, and sometimes it's straight-up guffawing. Surely you've attended a screening where the audience is laughing out loud. You can't possibly be that sheltered.

That's not true. When a sad moment is on screen, I think "oh that's sad". When a happy moment comes on, I'm like "cool, they're happy".

How very . . . touching.

I would've thought the person who famously states "Star Trek is better than everything" would be basing the claim on his passion for the franchise. It loses a bit of credibility once you learn it's founded merely on statistical data.

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Surely you've attended a screening where the audience is laughing out loud. You can't possibly be that sheltered.

Yeah I've heard people laugh, but not that uncontrollable belly laugh that hurts the muscles in your face and sends tears streaming out involuntarily. And those laughs don't just stop in a few seconds, they go on and on. What I've seen is more that fake laugh people do to acknowledge the humour of a scene.

I've only seen the belly laugh happen (and experienced it) when people are interacting one-on-one or in a group, but never during a movie.

Plus, I think Australians are a lot more restrained than their American counterparts while viewing films in a public space.

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