The Magnificent Seven
Musical Score By: James Horner and Simon Franglen
Distributed by: Sony Classical
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
The classic western, The Magnificent Seven, gets a new look in the Antoine Fuqua adaptation which features Peter Sarsgaard as Bartholomew Bogue, an industrialist with a death grip on the small town of Rose Creek. The townspeople are desperate enough to hire seven outlaws, bounty hunters, gamblers and hired guns for protection: Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington), Josh Faraday (Chris Pratt), Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke), Jack Horne (Vincent D'Onofrio), Billy Rocks (Byung-Hun Lee), Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) and Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier). As the group prepares for the inevitable violent showdown, they eventually find themselves fighting for more than just the money they signed on for.
The musical score of The Magnificent Seven was created by James Horner and Simon Franglen. James Horner composed music for over 130 film and television projects over his successful career, winning two Academy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, six Grammy Awards and more. Some of his best-known movie scores include Titanic, Avatar, A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13, Braveheart, Legends of the Fall, Field of Dreams and Glory. Simon Franglen is a Grammy-winning composer who has worked with pop, classical and R&B artists (Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, Celine Dion, Luciano Pavarotti) and renowned composers (John Barry, Howard Shore, Thomas Newman, Alan Silvestri). Franglen had a close working relationship with James Horner, having collaborated on music for Titanic, Avatar, The Amazing Spider-Man, Karate Kid and Southpaw.
Work had already begun on the score for The Magnificent Seven when James Horner was killed in a plane crash in 2015. According to Franglen, “In the Spring of 2015, as we finished the score to Southpaw, director Antoine Fuqua and James were engaged in discussions about The Magnificent Seven, which was to be their next collaboration. In approaching The Magnificent Seven, James knew he'd have to write a score that related to Elmer Bernstein's much-loved theme for the 1960 original, but he also knew that the film scoring language of that older film was not going to work in this modern retelling of Akira Kurosawa's masterpiece Seven Samurai. The challenges energized James; we met in London and he excitedly started working on themes while Antoine was beginning to film with his remarkable cast in Louisiana. A week later tragedy struck. James died in a private plane accident.”
Feeling it inconceivable that the musical themes Horner had created might never be heard, Franglen worked with a group of James Horner’s trusted collaborators to bring these themes to life: “A couple weeks later I was on the set of The Magnificent Seven playing the music to the astonished director, who was overwhelmed by this unexpected gift from his departed friend, a gift that so perfectly 'got' the essence of the movie that Antoine was making, without having ever seen a frame of it.” The resulting score is everything one might expect from a score for a western – that open tundra feel with a full orchestra (ala: The Big Valley).
Higher pitched horns are used to herald heroes, while lower pitched horns mean something bad or dangerous is afoot. Snares and bass drums highlight the action scenes and disjointed sounds and whistles remind us of the gunfighter style flicks of old. The Magnificent Seven Soundtrack was way more dramatic than I ever expected, touching upon the themes and moments in the film that soften our outlaws’ hearts to the people of Rose Creek and their plight. James Horner’s themes and Simon Franglen’s additional music creates a score that is classic western, but with a dramatic twist. Definitely a score worth checking out!