Composer of the month The expendables month

Soundtrack review: The mask of Zorro (James Horner – 1998)

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This ends up as another very enjoyable Horner score, one I come back to gladly

“The mask of Zorro” was a very enjoyable movie. It was the film that launched Catherine Zeta Jones and featured the talents of Anthony Hopkins and Antonio Banderas. The latter is why I am including this review in “The Expendables month”. I liked this movie and I remember very well the theme song “I want to spend my lifetime loving you” because it used to feature heavily on VH-1 in the morning and ever so often this was the song that would wake me up in the second year of college.

James Horner wrote this right after his unbelievable Titanic so the popularity of this score could have rode that wave. I am surprised by the size of this score: it fills up the CD at 74 minutes and features one 13 minutes long track and two of them worth 8 minutes each, the two opening tracks. It’s all right there in “The plaza of execution” and “Elena and esperanza”; if you enjoy these two cues you will love this score. As always, you will recognize in here motifs from other Horner scores: he is a master at reusing his old pieces but that never bothered me, because they are so good. So yeah James Horner copies himself but the material is so good that you forget about this. There are clear references to “Legends of the fall” in here (especially the woodwind parts) but the cues are exciting, adventurous and fiery. The flute in “The confession” will remind you of Braveheart.

But you will not get bored listening to this score. I feel like I’m riding on the back of a black horse and swinging a sword when I listen to this score. Horner’s orchestral wonder blends with flamenco inserts and “The mask of Zorro” has a clear identity. That vocal theme also travels all through the score in instrumental form and connects the cues. “Zorro’s theme” is one of those melodies that only James Horner can come up with, pure orchestral magnificence. This ends up as another very enjoyable Horner score, one I come back to gladly. You can’t go wrong with epic, beautiful music like this.

Cue rating: 89 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 42 / 75

Album excellence: 56%

Highlights:

  1. Elena And Esperanza
  2. The Ride
  3. The Confession
  4. Zorro’s Theme
  5. ‘Leave No Witnesses…’
  6. Diego’s Goodbye
  7. I Want To Spend My Lifetime Loving You – Marc Anthony, Tina Arena

About the author

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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