Hollywood lost one of its most talented and high-profile film composers when James Horner died in a plane crash in June 2015, but his legacy lives on in his music.
James Horner’s work can next be heard in The Equalizer director Antoine Fuqua’s boxing drama Southpaw (starring Jake Gyllenhaal), though it turns out Horner also finished the score for another upcoming Fuqua-helmd project: the remake of the western classic, The Magnificent Seven.
Fuqua recently conducted an interview with NPR to promote Southpaw, where the filmmaker also discussed Horner’s incredible generosity (he provided the music to Southpaw out of his own pocket). In addition, Fuqua revealed that Horner left behind a completed score for Magnificent Seven (which Horner had finished in secret):
“I just found out a couple days ago his team flew out here to Baton Rouge, and they brought me all the music from “Magnificent Seven” – he had already wrote it for me based on the script….he did it all off the script because he wanted to surprise me. And I thought it was a gift or something. And they all came out here and they said, Antoine, James wrote the music for “Magnificent Seven” already, and it’s just glorious. And that’s my memory of James.”
The original Magnificent Seven boasted an iconic score by Elmer Bernstein, with the main theme being played in almost any media whenever cowboys are mentioned (and they don’t want to settle on using the The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly theme). Horner’s one of the few composers who could come up with something new which wouldn’t pale in comparison – and given his penchant for musical quotations, it’s possible bits of Bernstein’s original will have snuck into Horner’s fresh score.
Prior to his death Horner was one of the most in-demand and respected composers in the movie business. Not quite as big a name as contemporaries like Hans Zimmer and Danny Elfman, his work is nonetheless world-renowned – from his debut on Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan, to his multiple collaborations with James Cameron (having provided scores for two of the highest-grossing films of all time, in Avatar and Titanic).
Horner’s work for Fuqua’s Magnificent Seven remake (starring Denzel Washington) is likely to be his last, used posthumously, after Soutphaw and the forthcoming The 33, a fact-based genre centering on the 2010 Chilean mining disaster. Horner died at the age of 61 in a plane accident, his single-engine personal aircraft crashing into the Los Padres National Forest in California.
Magnificent Seven has been filming in Baton Rogue, St Francisville and Zachary, and features a mighty impressive ensemble cast which (in addition to Washington) includes Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, and Vincent D’Onofrio, in a story of gunslingers enlisted to protect a small town plagued by bandits. It’s not Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson, but it’ll do.
The Magnificent Seven opens in U.S. theaters on January 13, 2017.