Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Playing Catch

[on who the Voice meant by "Ease his pain."]
Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner): It was you...
Shoeless Joe Jackson (Ray Liotta): No, Ray. It was YOU.
Field of Dreams (1989)

Noting the passing of composer James Horner.



The breadth of music written my James Horner spans decades of America's favorite movies. From blockbusters like Titanic and its dominating theme (for which he won Oscars), to gentle gems like The Rocketeer, Mr. Horner weaved emotion among the words and scenes crafted by some of the world's leading filmmakers. The accusation that he self-referred...borrowed passages from his own works...only meant re-acquaintance with a cherished friend, the whisper of a comfortable memory. His music helped create tension, and celebrate improbable triumph in Apollo 13. The Perfect Storm score perfectly told the audience that, to paraphrase, the Andrea Gail was so small and the Atlantic was unsurvivable. As the "Fighting 54th," America's first formal African-American brigade closed on Confederate Ft. Wagner in Glory" crescendo after crescendo marked the pitched (and futile) attack that cost half of the men involved.

Horner's music took on a personal quality in Field of Dreams. Haunting, evocative... The strains gracefully captured the wisps of yesteryear and the mists of the great beyond from which Shoeless Joe Jackson and other Golden Age baseball players emerged into the 1980's. The main character's mission, and quest, are propelled by a voice, audible only to him, that whispers "ease his pain." He learns that it is his own heartache, born of his estrangement from the father who died before their relationship could be repaired, that the field was meant to ease. Horner eases us, as well, to the scene where the main character's father, again a young catcher with most of his life ahead of him, is introduced to his ganddaughter. Ray says "Do you want to have a catch?"

Horner helps us process the tears. His music was always there, no matter which boat was sinking, spacecraft soaring or eyes meeting. His was the gift of unlocking emotion in a way that valued the movie goer, treated them not as a manipulated pawn but as a trusted partner. He took us, and the movie characters, on a wonderful examination of our own souls.

Someone was once asked what he would say to a certain famous 18th Century composer, were it possible to communicate with him. "Thank you," was the reply.

Thank you, Mr. Horner.

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