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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.



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.

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Sean Nethery
Sean Nethery
Dec 02, 2022

Originality is overrated in music. There are only so many ways to write a melody.


What matters ultimately is what the individual composer does with the material. As true in this neck of the woods as it is for a jazz musician, etc.


Horner was a master borrower. But his musical sensibility was as sophisticated as anyone in film music. And what he did with the material was always effective and often brilliant.

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And yes, I felt exactly like you did watching this new Willow TV series...what else will the Lucasfilm legacy become in Disney's hands ? Howard the Duck the series ?

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Lukas Kendall
Lukas Kendall
Dec 02, 2022
Replying to

haha! won't be long until that one is announced...

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Quotations, quotations, this is one of THE big issues (or not) with James Horner's music. I loved it when someone like David Hurwitz was able to mention Romeo and Juliet in Star Trek III ! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zij4S-CQ7jw&ab_channel=TheUltimateClassicalMusicGuidebyDaveHurwitz . It's funny, after so many years exploring contemporary and classic music apart from film music, my love for James Horner's music is still strong, it sounds familiar, s small part of the huge classical family tree. No rational explanation on quotations and self-quotations will do anything about it...I would say the contrary happened, the greatest film music is more than ever part of the great legacy of music of the last century. Although, if I was asked, I would say Brainstorm is still…

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Replying to

Thanks !

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Listen to Sinfonia da Requiem from Benjamin Britten and you'll recognize a section that Horner reused with variations in many scores, among them Star Trek II and Cocoon. I still love listening to his scores and adore Willow, probably my favorite of his

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Lukas Kendall
Lukas Kendall
Dec 02, 2022
Replying to

Oh yah!

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74 minutes was the CD capacity from the beginning of the format in 1982. The length of Beethoven’s 9th symphony which Sony engineers considered the minimum run time (very popular piece in Japan). Using various data tricks and shortcuts they've increased it to 80 minutes over the years. I agree though, it was rare for a film soundtrack on a single disc to use up almost all the capacity back then.

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Replying to

It was common for classical LPs to run over an hour as that's around the length of a typical symphony but the most I've ever seen is about 75 minutes.

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