Willow TV Series
I never thought there would be a Willow TV series. I watched the first episode last night.
Uh...I am not the target audience for this show. I could not believe how contemporary and “Y.A.” it was. Light as a feather. I felt very old.
After the socio-political sophistication of Andor and the serious, medieval drama of The House of the Dragon...well, I don’t get it.
Are teen audiences going to be into it? They were born years after Willow faded from memory.
I remember the original as a likable fantasy film, sort of an ersatz Lord of the Rings, with a memorable hero who really wasn’t in it as much as I thought he would be (Val Kilmer), some cool VFX, and a magnificent James Horner score.
I got the vinyl of the soundtrack in 1988 and was amazed that they crammed 73 minutes onto it. I thought that was not possible?
The new TV score is by James Newton Howard, and it interpolates some of the Horner themes...but there’s not really of that “Horner magic” to it. Which is probably just as well, because then it would be like a “Zombie Horner score,” which might be what the Avatar sequels have.
In researching this last night, I had more of my childhood ruined. So I knew that the main theme to Willow was based in part on a Schumann symphony:
Here you go...
But I always thought the beautiful Elora Danan theme was all Horner—so gorgeous!
I give you the Bulgarian folk song, “Mir Stanke le,” aka “Harvest Song From Thrace”:
What the hell!?!?!
Wikipedia also says: “Eclectic influences on the score include Leoš Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass, Mozart's “Requiem,” “The Nine Splendid Stags” from Béla Bartók, Edvard Grieg's “Arabian Dance” for the theater play Peer Gynt, and compositions by Sergei Prokofiev.
It’s still a magnificent score—but it’s more an adaptation than anything else. Weird!
If I ran the studio music department and paid Horner and paid the London Symphony Orchestra and found out it had all these “influences”—I would have been furious beyond words.
You can get the full, written orchestrations in digital form from Omni Music Publishing.
R.I.P. James Horner. I find out he didn’t write so much of what I thought he did—but I still love him!
UPDATE: Apparently this is a well-researched topic. Here’s a playlist of Willow origins. And an article from the James Horner Film Music folks who are, uhhhhh, very big fans.