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Section Header
The Perfect Storm
(2000)
Composed, Conducted, Co-Orchestrated, and Produced by:
James Horner

Co-Orchestrated by:
Joseph Alfuso
Steven J. Bernstein
J. Eric Schmidt
J.A.C. Redford
Carl Johnson

Song Performed by:
John Mellencamp

Label:
Sony Classical

Release Date:
June 20th, 2000

Also See:
Bicentennial Man
Deep Impact
Titanic
Apollo 13
Courage Under Fire
Willow

Audio Clips:
1. Coming Home from the Sea (0:34):
WMA (222K)  MP3 (277K)
Real Audio (172K)

3. Let's Go Boys (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

5. The Decision to Turn Around (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (243K)
Real Audio (151K)

8. Rogue Wave (0:30):
WMA (193K)  MP3 (238K)
Real Audio (147K)

Availability:
Regular U.S. release.

Awards:
  None.









The Perfect Storm

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Buy it... if you prefer your "Hornerisms" from the career of James Horner to be inspired by a more diverse range of genres and eras than the usual late 1990's or early 2000's score from the composer.

Avoid it... if any collection of "Hornerisms," no matter how well arranged, is as unpleasant for you as swallowing seawater.



Horner
The Perfect Storm: (James Horner) Warner Brothers and director Wolfgang Petersen were betting that the story of the Andrea Gail and its fate during the "perfect storm" of October 1991 wouldn't be too much of a depressing tragedy for audiences to handle in the summer, 2000 movie season. The faithful adaptation of the bestselling 1997 novel by Sebastian Junger, The Perfect Storm was widely praised by critics but did indeed fail to gain traction with skeptical audiences. The famed demise of the Andrea Gail was a thrill for both meteorologists and those unfamiliar with the true story of the fishing vessel, but both the intensity and technical elements of the film's presentation, when not filling the gaps with unconvincing dialogue not featured in the book, were too much for some to handle. Returning to the genre of the unforgiving sea, composer James Horner stirs up a tumultuous and powerful effort for the score for The Perfect Storm. Employing his typical, large-scale orchestra, Horner re-establishes motifs and instrumentation from his previously well-known styles and introduces a few new sounds along the way to keep that style fresh. Ultimately, what sank this score for many listeners, however, is its inability to distinguish itself from other Horner scores, especially when heard apart from the film's imagery. Although similar complaints had been building for years, the The Perfect Storm score blew up a not-so-rogue wave of criticism from those film music fans who hear his previous works in everything new he presents. And, to an extent, The Perfect Storm deserves some of that criticism. With both Titanic and The Mask of Zorro, the composer had appeared to be expanding into new stylistic territory, though with Deep Impact and Bicentennial Man came a return to an all-too-familiar call of duty for Horner in the conductor's box. To his credit, he did attempt to insert some variety into each score during that period, but on the whole, nobody can deny that the vast majority of his material for these scores, as well as The Perfect Storm, is molded from the same template.

So what makes The Perfect Storm any more remarkable than Deep Impact or Bicentennial Man? They're all decent scores, very well suited to their environment in each context, but The Perfect Storm has proven over time to be the most interesting of the three on album because it pulls from a wider variety of previous "Hornerisms" and never allows itself to get stuck in the same melodramatic rut as the other two previous efforts. The ensemble for The Perfect Storm is standard for Horner at the time, with the exception of the addition of both acoustic and electric guitars. A synthetic choral element is used to accentuate some of the fantasy moments late in the vessel's voyage. Otherwise, however, the instrumental usage is very familiar. Thematically, Horner employs two themes in the score, and while neither one is particularly memorable, the interactions of the two often produce a far greater result. Both themes are presented in succession in the opening cue on album, "Coming Home from the Sea" before Horner adeptly overlaps the two. The first theme heard is a standard dramatic affair for Horner, most in line with the romantic melodies heard in Deep Impact or Bicentennial Man. As a character theme representing humanity, it's certainly adequate, but it's not going to satisfy critics of the composer. More interesting is the theme for the ocean, which debuts in the second minute of the aforementioned cue and dominates many of the action cues thereafter. This six-note motif is somewhat overshadowed by other techniques that Horner uses for the ocean later on, though it's an astonishingly flexible progression that appears in fragments all over those action cues. The use of the character theme, when not in battle with the one for the seas, does get repetitive. Its lengthy performance in the final cue on album, "There's No Goodbye... Only Love," as well as its adaptation in the John Mellencamp song, "Yours Forever," do become tiresome after a while. The song, since Horner had a hand in it, does offer the theme for the ocean as counterpoint at several places, which is a neat touch.

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The major attraction in Horner's The Perfect Storm, though, is in its tone. The presence of the acoustic guitar is obviously meant to accentuate the warmth of the character theme, but the electric guitar gives the score a gritty, defiant edge that well represents the attitude of the crew. Horner had used the electric guitar in a few scores throughout the 1990's, but usually as only a singular accent piece. It had a noticeable impact as a slashing reminder of the perils of war in Courage Under Fire and had the distinction of marking the single moment in Titanic when the film dramatically shifted to its second half. Here, it is used more frequently as an equal to any other performing member of the ensemble, and is mixed as just another bass element. At 4:05 into "To the Fleming Cap," as in a few other places, the higher pitches of the instrument mimic a seagull call, but it's usually more of a three-dimensional percussion piece for most of the rambunctious rhythms of the fishing sequences. The buoyant enthusiasm of these cues recalls the best of Horner's adventure scores for children's films, including The Rocketeer. As the score shifts into troubled waters, the "worrisome" cues (highlighted by "The Decision to Turn Around") exhibit significant characteristics of Apollo 13, including the tapping percussion best known in that score. By "Coast Guard Rescue," Horner is in a brutal action mode (complete with the four-note motif of evil from Willow) and lets rip with orchestral mayhem more forceful than anything since Brainstorm. The raw energy of these cues is a reminder of the composer's earliest days, and it is because of this material that The Perfect Storm excels. Horner also achieves the rolling movement of the oceanic waves through the use of fluctuating strings, woodwinds, and the cymbals; it's not as impressive as Joel McNeely's storm music in Virus the previous year, but it is nevertheless quite engaging. Overall, The Perfect Storm is an exhausting, but ultimately rewarding score. After 75 minutes on album, regardless of the high quality of the action cues, the saccharine, endlessly repeating character theme can still be as unpleasant as swallowing seawater. ****   Amazon.com Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For James Horner reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.13 (in 98 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.18 (in 187,382 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.





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 Track Listings: Total Time: 79:06


• 1. Coming Home from the Sea (9:27)
• 2. "The Fog's Just Lifting..." (4:12)
• 3. "Let's Go Boys" (8:54)
• 4. To the Flemish Cap (7:18)
• 5. The Decision to Turn Around (9:21)
• 6. Small Victories (8:31)
• 7. Coast Guard Rescue (9:48)
• 8. Rogue Wave (10:04)
• 9. "There's No Goodbye... Only Love" (7:33)
• 10. Yours Forever - performed by John Mellencamp (4:02)




 Notes and Quotes:  


The insert includes credits and lyrics for the song.





   
  All artwork and sound clips from The Perfect Storm are Copyright © 2000, Sony Classical. The reviews and other textual content contained on the filmtracks.com site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 6/17/00 and last updated 6/22/08. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2000-2013, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.