James Horner died earlier this week. Horner and Alan Silvestri were the first two film composers whose work I not only recognized but actively enjoyed and sought out. Horner’s relentless, driving score for Aliens in particular is a huge part of the movie’s success.
But nothing, for me, is quite as perfect as this scene and his work in it. Listen to how carefully the music builds, how responsive it is to the scene. The way Horner folds the original refrain in at the exact right moment could have been mawkish but it mirrors the tone of the scene perfectly; brave, hopeful and quietly, gleefully insubordinate. There’s a huge amount going on in both the scene and the music (I especially like the electronic note used for the Excelsior‘s theme) but none of it feels rushed, forced or over the top. It’s brilliant work from one of the best movie composers of the last few decades. It’s also this week’s Moment of Zen.