Tuesday, July 21, 2015

James Horner Secretly Composed "The Magnificent Seven" Remake Just Before His Death

Scene from The Magnificent Seven (1960)
It will be a month ago tomorrow since the passing of legendary Oscar-winning composer James Horner. It also seems fitting then that this week also marks the release of one of his final scores for director Antoine Fuqua's Southpaw. While many are likely already discussing Jake Gyllenhaal's Oscar chances (Harvey Weinstein sure is), there's a new conversation that has arisen today regarding the future of Horner. While Southpaw may be one of his last completed scores, Horner has a few more tricks up his sleeve that may surprise you regarding Fuqua's next movie.

As expected when any film is released, Fuqua has been doing the rounds of interviews for Southpaw. Among his many stops was over at NPR for the show All Things Considered (listen to the whole interview here). Along with the familiar questions, the topic of Horner came up. While it featured the familiar happy reminiscing, there was a little bit of news unveiled about the composer's last noble deed for Fuqua before his death. With the director set to remake The Magnificent Seven for next year, he was secretly collaborating with Horner on the score - for free.

This may sound a little absurd, but Fuqua explains his reasoning. Because Southpaw was a low budgeted film, Fuqua wasn't able to pay Horner. Upon seeing footage of the film, Horner admitted to liking the father-daughter relationship and decided that he would do the compositions for free. He even went so far as to pay all of the musicians and crew that he worked with out of his own pocket. To add more humbleness, Horner was discovered to have been writing music for The Magnificent Seven. Even Fuqua didn't know until allegedly a few days prior to the interview. Why did Horner do it? He wanted to surprise him.

Speaking as Horner's work is likely reaching its finale, this may be one of the last opportunities to enjoy the legendary composer's work. The one catch is that since The Magnificent Seven has yet to go into production, Horner didn't have any footage to complimenthis music. There's an off chance that the music (as it is) won't even be used. However, time will only tell. Fuqua considers what he has heard to be great, so there's one piece of optimism. 

While The Magnificent Seven remake doesn't immediately sound like an Oscar contender, there would be an interesting parallel if Horner received an Oscar nomination for his work. The 1960 original received a sole nomination for Elmer Bernstein's now iconic score. It may be crass to forebode like this, but I am very interested to see how things turn out. Will we be seeing something very similar to Horner's vision, or will it be retooled to fit the eventual aesthetic? I don't know, but the one sure thing is that this will hopefully be a good sendoff for Horner's excellent contribution to the world of film scores.

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