Film scores

Soundtrack review: The 33 (James Horner – 2015)

cover

I wish this was just a normal score, just one in a list that will go on for many more years. I wish this wasn’t the last score James Horner ever recorded, because it’s a shame. But unfortunately the score written for this impressive tale of real life survival is the last thing we’ll ever get from one of the greatest composers of all time. Of course the shock of his untimely departure has subsided in the last few months so this review will be less emotional than the one for “Southpaw”, but still… the last new composition from James Horner… wished I didn’t have to write these words. Somehow though I find it fitting that his last score is for a real story. Those were some of his best compositions over the years…

“The 33” (Spanish: Los 33) is a 2015 English-language Chilean survival drama film, directed by Patricia Riggen and written by Mikko Alanne and Craig Borten and José Rivera. The film is based on the real events of the 2010 mining disaster, in which a group of thirty-three miners were trapped inside the San José Mine in Chile for more than two months. The film stars Antonio Banderas as Mario “Super Mario” Sepúlveda, who sent videos to the rescuers to notify them about the miners’ condition.

It’s nice to recognize the echoes of James Horner’s woodwind sound form the first seconds of “The Atacama desert”. I instantly went back to the “Revenge” cue from “Braveheart”. The flute towards the end of the opening cue is reminiscent of the same score and once again I don’t mind that the master of self-recycling does it again because the music is great.

Now I know how James Horner can write drama. He is (was….) one of the most masterful composers for this genre. “The collapse” should be the most dramatic cue in here but for me it holds a little back. I love its echoes and pace but there not a lot of emotion in there. “Buried alive” brings again memories of “Braveheart” and that’s a nice place to be in, musically. Sometimes I feel this score is a collection of wonderful ghosts from James Horner’s other scores. His flute and woodwind motifs blend with traditional South American instruments and make for a very enjoyable listen. “Prayer – Camp Hope” is the best example and it makes me think of those Peruvian or Chilean musicians that play in our parks in the summer.

Even if it’s a more subdued and respectful score, “The 33” will please James Horner’s fans. They will know and recognize this composition and it will travel familiar paths inside them. There’s nothing new in here but this makes me welcome the score as an old friend. The composer made the choice to focus on the intimate feelings this story played, instead of the drama of the general event. After all, everything takes place underground, in a confined and claustrophobic space and the music echoes that.

Cue rating: 85 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 20 / 55

Album excellence: 36%

Highlights:

Prayer – Camp Hope

The Drill Misses (And Dreams Fade…)

Celebrations

The 33

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).

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment