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June 12, 2013 by Rudy Koppl Category: Scoring Session

An Interview with James Horner and Jean-Jacques Annaud by Rudy Koppl

Originally published in Soundtrack Magazine Vol.20/No.77/2001
Text reproduced by kind permission of the editor, Luc Van de Ven and Rudy Koppl AUTHORS
James Horner has scored over one hundred motion pictures Allan Bryce
in his twenty-two years of film composing. These years of
Andrew Douglas
hard work have paid off by winning two Academy Awards and
Bruce Kimmel
two Golden Globes (one for Best Original Score and the other
for Best Original Song) for his music to the Best Picture of Chris Cutter

1997, TITANIC. Hes also earned five additional Academy Christopher Ritchie
Award nominations and four Golden Globe nominations, and Claudio Fuiano
has won three Grammy Awards. Horners soundtrack album
Daniel Azevedo
to TITANIC is the largest selling instrumental score album in
Daniel Mangodt
history, having sold approximately thirty million copies
worldwide. At present he continues his passionate affair with Daniel Schweiger

film scoring by composing around three projects a year. David Hirsch

David Kraft
In the new Paramount film ENEMY AT THE GATES, James Horners collaboration with Director
David Raksin
/ Writer / Producer Jean-Jacques Annaud has produced an epic / classical score that highlights
this films humanity. Russianesque compositions, which blend in with Horners strong scoring David Stoner

style, underscore the real-life story of hero Vassili Zaitsev, whose exploits at Stalingrad form Dirk Wickenden
one of the most famous sagas to emerge from the war. The score supports a story thats Doug Raynes
based around the Battle for Stalingrad, which was one of the defining moments of World War
Enzo Cocumarolo
II. Jean-Jacques summed it up well, This is about duels and duality, about contrasts and
Ezio Reali
extremes. The event is miniscule, but the propaganda makes it extremely important. Two
individuals track each other in the midst of millions who are dying, but the focus is on these Ford A. Thaxton
two. The smaller part is only one little piece of the large canvas, but it subsequently becomes Gianni Bergamino
the central symbol of the whole.
Graeme Flanagan

Greg Marshall
It was late morning as I drove in the rain on Tuesday, February 20th towards composer James
Horners studio located somewhere in a secluded valley in Calabasas, California. Getting out James Fitzpatrick
of my car, I noticed that there were different sets of wind chimes hanging from the tall trees James Pavelek
all around. I proceeded up the stone path that leads to Horners World of Wonders his
Jean-Pierre Pecqueriaux
studio. When you enter the studio, its like discovering the modern day workshop of Leonardo
Jeff Berkwits
Da Vinci. The rooms visual magnificence takes you back to the age of Jules Verne and the
Wright Brothers. I took in Horners amazing world that starts at one end with a rack of Jenni Gyffyn

hundreds of tools, a work bench, mechanical wooden models and puppets, small toy robots in Jim Doherty
shapes and forms, strange models of ancient flying machines and a zeppelin, a variety of John Caps
model windmills, a huge model sailboat, a variety of toy buses and cars, a multitude of
John Mansell
mechanical objects, toys, and sculptures everywhere, a huge group of clear multicolored
Jonathan Broxton
flashlights, hundreds of mechanically working devices that bring to mind the great inventors
of our times. Just the very thought of this room would make Jules Verne jealous. On three of Jrg Kremer
this rooms walls are pictures of Horners children, showing his connection to the real world. Ken Sutak
In the midst of all this exists the composers studio and the grand piano upon which he works Kirk Henderson
on his symphonic film adventures. Even the hundreds of wires that hang from the rear of his Makoto Mikawa
equipment fit in with this rooms visual spectacles. It had been 15 years since Horner had
Marco Werba
worked with director Jean-Jacques Annaud on THE NAME OF THE ROSE, but this time
Matthias Bdinger
everything was different. The film, the development of their careers, even their styles and
techniques when directing and scoring, all this has led to their current collaboration on ENEMY Paul Andrew MacLean

AT THE GATES. Horner, who loves to talk about scoring and his approach to it, shared his Philip Powers
thoughts with me about composing for a different kind of film and the intense drama behind
Philippe Blumenthal
Ralf Schuder

Can you remember what it was like at the beginning of your film scoring career? Randall D. Larson

The world was very different then. I did a lot of films for the American Film Institute and Robert Hershon
Roger Corman, all at the same time. I was finishing my doctorate at UCLA and just gave up
Roger Feigelson
on academia. My very first film ever, which was by Roger Corman, was this gangster movie
Roger Hall
called THE LADY IN RED (1979). Then I did HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP (1980) and various
other things. These were very, very, ultra low budget eight or ten thousand dollar budgets. Ross Care

The point of them was not the salary for me, but experiencing the art of music production and Rudy Koppl
getting to write music for film. Soundtrack

Stephen Woolston
What are your thoughts on your first film score, THE LADY IN RED?
It was very primitive because I knew nothing about film music up to that point. Obviously at Steve Russ

that point in my career, even though I was writing music for film, the tail was wagging the Steven J. Lehti
dog a bit, the technology was dictating how I would be writing. Now thats not the case, but in Steven Simak
those early films I never had music scoring lessons since Id never done anything like that
Sumimaro Yagiyu
before. I was studying and played the piano since I was five. When I was about ten or eleven
Theo de Klerk
I decided I didnt want to play the piano recreating music, I wanted to write music.
My education was based on studying composition and theory. I attended the Royal Academy Tony Buchsbaum

of Music in London, then went to the University of Southern California and got my Masters William F. Krasnoborski
degree, and finally got my doctorate at U.C.L.A. I practically gave up teaching the day I got William H. Rosar
my doctorate. I had been studying to write serious music, classical music, and teach, but
Wolfgang Breyer
never even looked at scoring movies until THE LADY IN RED.

What do you think is the key to composing a successful film score?

First of all, you have to have a very strong bond with the director. Producers are secondary to
me. The guy who is making the movie, the artist whos moving the paintbrush, you have to RECENT COMMENTS
have a very strong bond with him. You have to be close enough to the movie that you
Randall D. Larson on The Werewolf
understand all the ins and outs of the film, but you also you have to have enough distance so
of London
you can still be objective.
What sometimes happens is composers are asked very early on in the composition process to Lewis M. Greenberg on The Werewolf
be part of the movie. They get hired and see filming, all the rushes, all the cuts, and they lose of London
track of whats good or bad about the film. I think thats deadly, because you fall into the trap Fivre sur Anatahan et le Japon
of being too close to the movie. I think its very important to keep a distance, because the (3 / 4) - Caf des Images on Akira
composer is the first outsider whos in the nuclear family of the filmmakers the director, Ifukube
cameraman, editor, and composer. Youre the first outsider whos not seen all the rushes, the
Dirk Wickenden on Nathan Van
dailies, and you get to see it assembled in some way. Its very important that you remain very
objective and stay in touch with not only what the director wanted initially, but the way it
A.J. Averett on Nathan Van Cleave
ends up, the way it really turns out. If you dont keep that objectivity, you tend to get sucked
into what the director wants and what hes telling you is true, even though on the screen its
not necessarily that way. Thats the most important thing to me when I do a film.

When you approach scoring a picture, is your technique to usually find a theme and
develop your ideas around it?
No. I dont think in themes at all, that comes later. I think in terms of colors and moods. What
orchestra do I want to use to score this movie or what instruments or what quality do I want
in the score that narrates whats going on under the surface? What gives me an opportunity
to write for some kind of an ensemble that is more unusual? I like using a lot of ethnic
instruments when its appropriate. So the first thing that comes to mind when I see a film is
not really thematic material so much as orchestral approach. Do I use an oboe or a boy
soprano? Those kinds of decisions. That dictates what kind of music gets written because if it
is a voice it can only do a certain type of thing. It its an oboe or trumpet, it can only do a
certain type of thing it sounds best in a certain key, it has a limited range. So thats the first
thing that I think of when I see a film what type of orchestra, what type of colors should be
playing? The themes come in much later.

A lot of your scores, like TITANIC and THE PERFECT STORM, for instance, sound
theme-driven. Its hard to believe that writing a strong theme isnt one of your
composing strengths.
I dont think of that; thats secondary to me. When I scored TITANIC one of the main talking
points initially was not themes, because we didnt want to do a big Hollywood sinking epic. We
didnt want to do a period film; we wanted to find something that transcended that. The
themes in TITANIC happened very quickly. Once I knew what Jim was after I knew what I was
after, I probably wrote all the material in about three hours. The next day I called him he
was about to go to Baja, and we got together. I played him everything on the piano. The main
thing again was the scale, the size, the color of the orchestra, what kind of mood the
orchestras going to portray. The thrust of this score was something much more Irish, that he
and I wanted to go after. Thats what really drove it; the themes literally came to me in
twenty minutes.

Listening to your new score, the distinct feeling I get

from the music is that its not thematically driven. Did
composing ENEMY AT THE GATES bring your type of
composing style more to the forefront?
In a way, yes. ENEMY AT THE GATES has a much broader
canvas; its more of a film that points at humanity rather
than the three characters of the movie. Initially Im not
writing themes, I didnt want the opening of the film to have
a DR. ZHIVAGO type theme. I thought that would be a
mistake. Weve all gone down that road so many times. It
also says something about the movie, that the movie is a certain conventional type of movie.
I wanted to be a lot more amorphous. In the beginning of ENEMY AT THE GATES it opens with
this flashback, this little boy shooting at a wolf. Its the little boy that ends up being Vassili
Zaitsev, this famous sharpshooter played by actor Jude Law. At the beginning, Jude is having
this flashback before you ever go to the Russian front, you start in the deep snow in deep
winter and this little boy is learning, hes being taught by his grandfather in the snow how to
shoot at a wolf. I wanted to write something very atmospheric you cant quite touch that
blends in with the sound of the wind blowing, the winter surroundings, and the coldness. The
themes come out of that slowly, but the first time you see our lead characters, theyre in a
freight train amongst thousands of Russian soldiers. There is no big theme, its more like the
humanity of it all and you see Stalingrad burning. By the time you get to the end of the movie
it becomes much more thematic, because now the whole big story is focused on three people
and their final destinies. The end credits are very thematic, but most of the score is not quite
as theme driven as other scores Ive written but thats on purpose.

How did you get involved in scoring ENEMY AT THE GATES?

Jean-Jacques and I worked together fifteen years ago on THE NAME OF THE ROSE. It wasnt
such a great experience for either of us. For whatever reasons, the movie wasnt as well laid
out as ENEMY AT THE GATES. I probably was a slightly different personality at that point. It
was not a great experience. My experience with Jim Cameron on ALIENS wasnt a great
experience either, because I didnt have very much time. I had ten days to write the score for
ALIENS and THE NAME OFTHE ROSE. Theres no way you can really do justice to a film in that
time the way you want to. You get into all kinds of collisions that have to do with time and
The second time around was the best experience you could have with the director, with Jean-
Jacques and with Jim as well. Jean-Jacques and I got along absolutely famously and Id like to
think its probably because I changed. ENEMY AT THE GATES and TITANIC were similar
experiences because I was working with somebody that didnt work out the first time; the
second time out I made it a point for it to be one of the best things thats ever happened to
me. As it turns out they were thinking about having me score it, but I was also very
interested in the script. They contacted me first and asked if I would do it and I said, I think
so, but let me read the script. Everybody knew about my nervousness if I worked with Jean-
Jacques again, including himself, but he wanted to try it and when I read the script it was
terrific. Its an epic, a great story, a love story, and it gives me a chance to do all kinds of
things that in other kinds of films I dont get to do, so I agreed to do it.

Was it a leap of faith on Jean-Jacques part to try a second collaboration with you?
Ive scored a lot of films between then and now. I guess he was willing to take that chance.
Hes worked with other composers in the past and I dont think anything made Jean-Jacques
like these guys over anybody else. He loved BRAVEHEART very much, a different era of
course, but a similar love epic within the context of a huge war story. He was very enthralled
by that and he asked me to do ENEMY AT THE GATES somewhat based on that. We met in
Germany, it was great and we connected instantly. It was the story that really got to me and
hes a very good filmmaker, so I knew I would not be disappointed with what he shot versus
what I read.

Was ENEMY AT THE GATES temped? If so, how did you deal with it?
Dina Eaton, an English music editor, temped ENEMY ATTHE GATES, while Joe E. Rand, one of
my regular music editors, temped THE PERFECT STORM. Its murder for me when a lot of my
music is used in the temp. Its very hard for me to solve film problems in a different way
when a film is temped this way. Joe E. moves music around in the temp and does a great job
of making this work for me.
On ENEMY AT THE GATES I didnt want my music to be included in the temp, my request was
to please use somebody elses music, but dont use mine. For the most part thats the way it
worked out. There might have been a couple of sequences where they wanted to use my
music, but they used other peoples music instead. For the most part, it just wasnt a very
good temp score, which is great. That helps me out later on, but it solved problems for Jean-
Jacques in projecting it for the executives, thats the whole nature of it. I basically ignore the
temp anyway.

Did you electronically mock up your score for Jean-Jacques?

No. Im not equipped to do electronic mock ups, Id have to rent space, equipment, etc., etc.,
which is an expense they usually dont want to go to. A lot of composers dont work like I do,
Im literally a throwback. I write everything at a desk with a pencil and orchestrate pretty
much everything myself. Theres not a lot that I do thats automated. To go into a place and
do a temp score for a week to two weeks, first of all, takes away from my writing time
because they are not giving me two to three weeks extra to write it and its an expense. If
you already have a setup and youre writing on a synthesizer, then theres nothing lost, but I
dont work that way. I tend never to do mockups. I did a little bit of it on TITANIC because
Jim wanted some idea of what he was going to get beforehand, especially in some of the
more controversial sections, but for the most part I dont do it. I write out the music and Ill
always play themes for people or give them ideas on the piano, but I dont like mockups.
Theres a certain objective quality that I have to maintain, so they dont get too close to the
process. If I get too close to the film process, Im not being objective anymore and Im not
solving some of the films problems because Im so deep into the movie that I dont see them
as problems. If youre not so close to the movie you can say, The love storys not really
working for me. If youre looking at it every day and mocking things up, youre not able to
see that quite so easily.

What was the key scene, thought, or inspiration that opened up your ideas to score
It was when I visited the set and saw something that Id never seen on a movie. I wanted to
see a big action charge. Ive scored plenty of them, but Id never seen how one was actually
laid out with all the explosives, the guys rigging it, and with fifteen cameras. They were
shooting in old East Germany, about a two hour drive from Berlin. It was snowing, very cold,
sort of miserable, and there were hundreds of people on their stomachs for this battlefield
scene. It was very good for me because what I wanted to do was give some feeling as to the
coldness, this sort of realism, but how do you do that with music? Its almost impossible, but I
wanted to give it an icy feeling. This is why I didnt use themes, I didnt want it to be too
warm or too romantic or too movie-like, at least initially. I wanted to make it a lot colder
literally and figuratively. Thats what my inspiration was initially.
I didnt see the love story when I was hired because, I was waiting to see how powerful that
was and if wasnt powerful enough; could I make it more powerful? I was waiting to see a
couple of things that hadnt been finished yet, but I saw the opening sequences, which were
dazzling, all these troops going to the Russian front on one of those Auschwitz type trains,
those boxcars. These Russian soldiers were not given any rifles, they were just given bullets
and every other soldier was given a rifle. The idea being if the soldier with the rifle in front of
you goes down, youre to grab his rifle and continue on. They didnt have enough rifles; they
just had a huge amount of manpower. The Germans had tons of technical stuff, but they
didnt have the manpower that the Russians did. AII of this was part of it, just the sheer
numbers of what you see on screen, the sort of human fodder.

You said you wanted to write something that was epic in feel, but was also just
slightly understated and quiet the shadows as it were, as opposed to the
sunlight. What were your reasons for taking such a musical approach?
That approach is sort of typical in my film scoring. The stuff thats really obvious on screen I
dont worry about. Battles, theres no point in me having a 300-piece orchestra fighting
machine guns and artillery. Theres just no point, its not the kind of movie where you have to
generate excitement in an audience because the battle scene is lacking excitement.
I tend not to score battles, I tend to score the aftermaths. Its the emotional effect after the
battle is finished that I try to score. Thats what I meant by the shadows as it were, as
opposed to the sunlight, its the things that arent so obvious or the things that take place in
private moments. Theres this one sequence near the beginning of the film where the
Russians are charging and are being mowed down by the Germans. At some point they decide
to turn around and retreat and in retreating the propaganda officers are behind them urging
them on with flags, bullhorns, and such. They turn around and start running back and the
propaganda officers call them cowards and its, Stop, go back or well shoot! They start to
fire on the Russian troops as they run back from the German lines. I convinced Jean-Jacques
to not have me score the big battle stuff, but to have music come in after the Russians are
shooting Russians. He dropped all the sound effects and its just this plaintive music playing
as the Russian guys are shooting their own men, its so sad, its so-real in this sort of
montage. Its the emotions that I like to score, as opposed to the big, broad, screaming,
yelling, gung-ho, banzai type charges that have been done a thousand times. Some directors
get nervous without the traditional adrenalin going, an audience might think somethings
missing, and they worry about it, but the amount of notes written to be heard on screen is
dismal in sequences like that.

Gould you explain the structure of your score by breaking it down in themes or
Theres thousands of concepts and characters in a movie like this, so it would be easy to turn
it into an opera with thousands of different themes. For the most part I try very carefully to
have the minimal amount of thematic material so that its very easy to follow, so one persons
theme not only plays when that person is on stage, but it becomes a concept. In terms of the
score there was no sort of structure like that. Initially one of the early themes in the film was
somebodys specific theme, but as the film played on it became more a theme of humanity,
emphasizing more the general condition of all the Russian people at that point, and not just
being used as one persons theme. I tended to start quite intimately and then expand as the
film went on. As the issues became more dangerous, the score became more complex. It was
like scoring variations on specific emotional moments in the film.

Do you write out your score with pencil and score sheet or use a computer
I dont use any automation at all it doesnt help my process. To me its a very painterly
process and its straightforward. I stand in front of a big canvas; I just start sketching and
coloring at the same time. I use paper, I use pencil, and Im writing at a desk myself. I dont
bang everything out at a piano necessarily. I check things mathematically at a piano to
measure the timings are perfect and things like that but in terms of writing I dont use the
Piano. I tend to orchestrate a lot myself because thats like coloring and I cant imagine doing
a painting in charcoal and then handing it off in charcoal to somebody and say, Here, you put
in the colors. Its a hand-in-hand process for me but now, because of my time constraints,
I might not have time to orchestrate the whole thing myself, in which case I will notate in
very, very, intricate detail what I want. It takes a lot of time to orchestrate and write a piece
of music than when youre just writing a couple of melody lines and handing it to a staff of
people. I dont use automation at all, it just doesnt help my process, and it doesnt make it
go faster.

How much of ENEMY did you orchestrate and who else orchestrated with you?
J.A.G. Redford worked with me, but I probably did 90% of the orchestrations as I usually do,
because they were so specialized in each scene. However, on a film like THE PERFECT STORM,
J.A.C. did a lot more work because once I had established a style of orchestration, I wasnt
changing concepts, I wasnt changing coloring as much as I did in ENEMY AT THE GATES. So
J.A.C. did a lot more work for me on THE PERFECT STORM.

With some of your tight schedules, its surprising to

hear this.
I usually have about five to six weeks maximum, from the
first note to recording. I work very intensely until its done. I
dont work from nine to five, but from four in the morning
until ten at night, I go very intensely. I never really run out
of time; what ends up taking a lot of time is doubling a line
in an oboe or a clarinet thats already in three other
instruments. I might not take the time to do that, Ill put it in
English, Please double the first violins, but for the most
part, I do all that myself. I also think that Im not just a
colorist and thats a very personal point of view. Its a
problem I have with orchestrators who do what they do and
they color everything very much the same. A lot of big movie
scores all sound the same, it doesnt matter who wrote the
notes or what the notes are, and they all get a very similar
sound from the orchestra. Thats something that I notice a
lot, so coloring is very important.

Five minutes into cue two (The Hunter Becomes The

Hunted), theres this orchestral ascent that creates an enormous amount of
tension. Was part of your approach in ENEMY AT THE GATES to catch the tension of
the moment?
That actually is a sequence where the sniper, who are heroes, are in a building and theyve
bee set up by this German sniper. Here they realize theyve been set up and now theyre
being hunted. They went in to find the German, now they realize that the German is there to
find them. Theyve fallen for the trap and now theyre trying to get out. At the same time
there are these bombers approaching Stalingrad to bomb the city. Theres this whole
sequence where this woman is screaming, she cant take it anymore, Ive got to get out of
here. Jude Law (Vassili Zaitsev) says, Dont move or hell find you! She says, I cant take
it, as you see the bombers coming through the window, coming closer and closer. They start
bombing and she freaks out, runs, and gets shot. Theres a whole five or six minute sequence
here. Ive never ever done a sequence like that, when you see it the tension is overwhelming.
It was very interesting scoring this.

What inspired your use of choir parts and what approach did you take when using
So much Russian music has vocals in it I wanted it to have a Russian flavor without having
to rely on a balalaika and an accordion. I used a choir and sort of Russianesque themes, but
for the most part I tried to keep it from overtly sounding like trite Russian themes. It was sort
of like Russian opera. It has a certain flavor to it if one knows Russian music, and thats the
kind of flavor I tried to impart to the score. I knew exactly what I wanted to do, based on my
knowledge of Russian music and Russian sacred music. In my score the choir came first. The
score for the most part accompanied the choir, or there were a lot of times when the choir
sang a cappella, where they were not accompanied at all.

I noticed that ENEMY AT THE GATES seems to be one of your most classically-
oriented scores. Was that your intention here?
Yes, it had to sound classically Russian. Jean-Jacques wanted it to sound like Russian army
music, Russian socialist music of the fifties and sixties. I knew exactly what he meant, that
very military Russian music of the Stalin years. I have a bunch of CDs that he gave me. I
wanted it to have that quality, but at the same time I wanted it to have a quality that wasnt
as military as that. I didnt want it to sound like Rachmaninoff, which is way over-the-top
romantic and movie-music like. I had to find some middle ground, so my middle ground was
aiming more towards Shostakovich and Prokofiev than Rachmaninoff on one end, being really
romantic, or Russian army chorus music on the other end. It was sort of a Russian classical
music fusion, but definitely Russian classical.

What does film music and classical music have in common? Is there a crossover?
There is, but it depends on the project. My classical music upbringing means I lean more
towards long structures, long melodic lines, and I tend to think classically as opposed to short
little four bar phrases. It depends on the composer; it depends on where you were brought
up. I tend to think much more classically than other composers, having studied that music all
my life. How can it not become a part of my film scoring? Youre doomed and cursed at the
same time. If you develop a strong style then people accuse you of writing the same score for
every movie. If your style is really eclectic and different, then they accuse you of not having
any point of view and youre being faceless. Its very difficult.
In the film music world, Im like art. If Im an artist and I paint fifteen canvases of water lilies,
I can have a whole exhibit like Monet. They can all be for different clients, all the clients are
happy, and I will have done a whole series of water lilies and theyre stunning. Theres no
proprietary thing about it, while in film music its very proprietary. Im not allowed to repeat
more than three notes from one project to the other because they belong to Warner Brothers
or Paramount.
Im not writing for myself, Im writing for hire for somebody and they own the finished
product. When theyre finished they dont want to know that I used the same three notes in
another score. That doesnt exist in any other art form. Its only in film music or in the film
world where you have this proprietary thing that youre going to get the shit sued out of you
not so much if you copy yourself, but if you have such a strong style and somebody whos
not a real musician says, Hey, isnt that the same score we got in such in such-a-movie?
Even though theyre different scores, the point is that its only in the film world that its a
problem. In the art world, that would never be a problem. Its considered part of history how
artists do massive series of paintings before they gradually shift into a new series.

In the last cue on the score CD, Tania, the music feels very spiritual, in fact
religious and peaceful. What was your intent here?
Thats composed for the end credits and it starts with mandolins. Its the only place in the
score, after the final scene fades to black, where I use mandolins and accordion. I just didnt
want to use Russian instruments that were clich. I did use them at the beginning of the end
credits and then it becomes more symphonic and ends in my customary austere way. The
humanity and scope of it is definitely in that quasi-religious thing in the chorus. This movie is
so intense and doesnt let up. Through the whole course of the movie three of the major
characters die, theres only one left at the very end ostensibly and its a very hard thing to get
through. Part of my thing at the end of the movie was to very quietly not let the audience off
the hook. I didnt want to end by saying its the end of the movie, its ok, you can get up and
leave, I wanted them to stay in their seats, keep them thinking about it, and s till be
engrossed in the loss, the things they went through in this movie. Thats typical of a lot of my
end credits I dont like the feeling of the lights coming on, it has all been entertainment,
and now the next audience comes in. I like to nail an audience and keep them there; have
them be so involved in the movie that they dont get out of their seats. The music can help
that thats what I meant by manipulating an audience. Its not that the music is so fantastic
that they sit there praying for every next note, its that the movies still going on as the
credits roll. Thats very important for me and thats something I try to do, encapsulate the
feeling without it being an overtly sad ending. I like to keep them nailed to their seats. No
matter how spiritually uplifting, even in a movie like FIELD OF DREAMS, I purposely wrote
something that I knew was spiritually compelling enough to make them sit there and think
about the movie.
What did you learn by working with Jean-Jacques Annaud?
I really didnt learn much that I didnt already know before, but I think Jean-Jacques trusted a
composer like hes never trusted a composer before, which is very flattering. I worked
especially hard to make the process easy for him. I went out of my way to make sure he got
every atom perfect in his own mind that he wanted. There was very little to redo here.
Actually I nailed about ninety five or ninety eight per cent the first time around.
The most important thing here was complete trust. I trust Jean-Jacques instincts.
Sometimes you work with people and thats what I meant by staying objective or subjective:
you take on a film, you read it, its a great script, but you dont trust their instincts and its
really hard because you know theyre wrong, but theyre your boss. If you do it their way,
they are going to still be wrong, and what youve written is going be wrong. I see composers
getting skewered all the time in the press about a particular score. Sometimes thats the
composer, but a lot of the time thats the director. Theyre following orders, theyre being
asked to do a certain thing, a certain style, and whether they like it or not, their employers
are requesting this. Its very hard working for a director. With Jean-Jacques, I trusted his
instincts implicitly and I think he really trusted mine. I like the fact that Jean-Jacques is open,
as really great directors are; they are really open to other input. They have a certain idea of
the way they want it to go, but once theyve said their words, theyre open to other people
saying, Well, thats interesting, but what about this? and Jean-Jacques does that.

What are your future plans?

Im working on a film for Shekhar Kapur called FOUR FEATHERS, which comes out next
Christmas. He directed ELIZABETH, an English epic period piece. Also Im scoring a film for
Ron Howard called A BEAUTIFUL MIND; its just a wonderful turn around for Ron. These are
the kinds of projects I look for. No one would make this movie except for Ron. The fact that
Ron is making this after doing HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS is like my career. They
would go and do a movie thats so different than what theyve done before. Im also doing
John Woos movie WINDTALKERS and that takes me through Christmas.

After I finished the photo shoot and interview, as I was walking with Horner back down the
studio path to his driveway, he made one final comment about his film music to me that I
found quite interesting. He said, Out of all the scores Ive written, the one Im the proudest


Its 1 a.m. in Paris, France,
as Jean-Jacques Annaud
has just finished his
interview with me about
his collaboration with
composer James Horner
scoring his newest baby
(as he calls it, ENEMY AT
THE GATES. Through our
whole conversation
Annaud was ecstatic about
working with James, Jean-
Jacques made it quite
clear, he couldnt pass up
this chance to talk about
one of the greatest
collaborations in his
filmmaking career. In 1976
Jean-Jacques Annaud
directed his first film,
EN COULEUR). This first
cinematic achievement,
which strangely enough
was a war drama, went on
to earn him his first
Academy Award for Best
Director of a Foreign Film.
He points out, It was a
small French language film
that I shot on the Ivory
Coast. It was a bizarre
thing, but it was a very
sincere movie I did with all
my passion. Since his
amazing break into the
film making world, Annaud
has directed QUEST FOR
YEARS IN TIBET, all these
projects having unique
challenges and being quite
different as Annaud
confirms, Because Ive been doing movies that are quite different, people do not connect my
movies together.

When it came time for ENEMY AT THE GATES, Jean-Jacques own special brand of recreating
history for film would surface again. We have taken a historical event and tried to understand
what happened in the hearts of people who lived through it, as he puts it. So when it came
time to score ENEMY AT THE GATES, Jean-Jacques needed something special. These are
Annauds views on the scoring of his new motion picture and the amazing experience he had
with the composer who brought his hopes and dreams musically to life, James Horner.

Do you remember the first time you met James Horner when you worked together
on THE NAME OF THE ROSE, fifteen years ago?
Absolutely, I remember seeing this shy young man coming to Munich, seeing the movie, and
being very interested by what he saw. He very wisely said, This is going to be a hard sell in
the Midwest. (laughter) I must admit, he was right. We had a delightful, simple meal where
we shared our passions about classical music in a lovely Italian restaurant in Munich. It was
all very friendly. I loved his humility and charm, but right after that we went through a
difficult time and ended up not speaking to each other for fifteen years, because we were
different people in those days, we were more like young terrorists, more intense.
However, this time it was like a honeymoon and was one of the pleasures of my career. His
impression of my film was completely accurate. It was like a fresh pair of eyes that were
helping me to rediscover my movie.
James showed up in Germany when I started shooting and he explained things about what he
had read in the script. A lot of what he was saying to me was not even written in the lines, it
was written between the lines, but he perceived it perfectly. Frankly it has been my most
beautiful experience, not only in film music, but in a creative partnership. James came up
with solutions I would never have thought of.

When do you start thinking about what type of score you want for your film?
Almost as I write. Very often when I stop creating the scene, at an initial impasse, I can hear
what kind of music goes behind this. Its the initial chemistry, either I hear the sound of wind
or a distant bird or I hear an orchestra thats full of fury or just the mood of a distant oboe. I
dont express it as well as I do now, but sometimes I even give a hint of this in my script.
Sound is very important to me, its always been 50% of my final film. This is why Im
reluctant to show my movies before all the elements are together, because the way I
construct, the way I write, the way I shoot, requires the input of the soundtrack. What causes
the chemistry is when the music put together with the image creates a new feeling that is not
in the music, that is not entirely in the image, its the two together that create this chemistry.

What kind of a score did you want for ENEMY AT THE GATES?
I wanted scope on some occasions, then silence between extreme close ups and extreme
wide shots. I wanted to make an intimate epic, and how should you score an intimate epic?
You can go from very discreet solo instruments and then bounce back into the full strength of
a one hundred and forty-piece orchestra. This was one of the aspects that excited James, to
create this in the format of a concerto where you go from a single instrument carrying the
melody and then bounce back into full orchestra responding and answering the main theme.

In Horners score there were Russian elements to it, but I think his style sometimes
consumed these influences.
Thats absolutely right because its very dangerous to make it too ethnic; then the score
doesnt fulfil its purpose, it doesnt support what the images are doing. If it doesnt convey
the emotion for the audience then its very different. The score is there to underline the
emotions. Im very grateful that James underplayed it. Id sent him a selection of my favorite
Russian music, which was about ten hours of Khachaturian, Rimsky-Korsakov, Rachmaninoff,
and definitely Prokofiev, but once we heard it all, we both decided that Prokofiev was probably
the person we respected the most.

If you dont hear an electronic sample of what the score sounds like, isnt it a leap
of faith on your part to get to the scoring stage?
Absolutely, but this is the beauty of it. It is so frightening for a director when after just giving
birth to the newborn baby, to give him or her to a composer, who is going to paint this baby
in a different color or dress the baby in clothes that you dont necessarily like. Its a very, very
frightening process. Its the only moment where I lose control of the movie in a way. This is a
leap of faith you have to have with your composer. If you leave him alone, he knows what to
do; hes a professional and will do his job. You hire him for his skills and I think this is that
leap of faith you need to have, trust. When you feel that your composer understands what
you want to do as well as you do, then you should trust him and let him do it in his own

What have you learned by working with James?

He is a man who absolutely loves composing and directing, just doing his work. The
accomplishment of feeling that you have a skill and you love to practice it is wonderful.
Seeing James working, his strengths and fragilities, made me feel very close to him and
taught me that conviction through passion is the ultimate creator.

Did the score to ENEMY AT THE GATES satisfy your vision as a filmmaker?
I felt so much harmony in what he came up with and what I needed for the film that I cannot
even think of any other thing than full pleasure.

My deepest appreciation and thanks goes out to the people who made this article possible. Carol Della
Penna (VP of publicity at Sony Classical), Joy Kopaloff of PMK (James Horners publicist), Dafney
Ortiz of PMK, Julyce (James Horners assistant), Gail Silverman (Paramount Publicity), Melanie
Hodal of DDA (Jean-Jacques Annauds publicist), Jill Diraffaele of DDA, director Jean-Jacques
Annaud for talking to me at 1 a.m. and especially to composer James Horner.
Composer / Conductor: James Horner
Where: E.M.1. Abbey Road Studios, London, England
When: October 24th, 28th, 30th, 31st, and November the 1st
Orchestrators: James Horner and JAC. Redford
Orchestra: 96 Players
Choir: A 48 (SATB) piece choir attended sessions on the 25th & 27th of October
Engineer: Simon Rhodes
Music Editor: Jim Henrikson
Keyboard players: none
Electronics: none
Composing Time: 5 1/2 Weeks
Length of Score: 116 Minutes
Contractor: Isobel Griffiths



James Horner Scores A James Horner and Star James Horner on Star
Beautiful Mind Trek II Trek III
August 13, 2013 December 16, 2013 December 16, 2013
In "Scoring Session" In "Scoring Session" In "Scoring Session"

James Horner Scores A James Horner and Star James Horner on Star
Beautiful Mind Trek II Trek III
August 13, 2013 December 16, 2013 December 16, 2013
In "Scoring Session" In "Scoring Session" In "Scoring Session"

Tags: James Horner

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