The Legacy of James Horner: No. 10 “Nanelia’s Capture”
[This article is part of a 10 part short retrospective of the career of the late film composer James Horner. Be sure to check below for a link to the introduction, and a link to the next item in the Top 10 list.]
For the first piece on our list, we go back to the very beginning of James’ career to look at the first full-length motion picture he ever scored, Roger Corman’s Battle Beyond the Stars. Now I have indeed seen this film, and I’ve been meaning to write a review about it for a long time. I just simply couldn’t get a clear and coherent review written back when I originally wrote one out. So it’s still a very messy essay, but maybe someday I’ll be able to clean it up and bring you all the nitty-gritty details.
Anyway, I chose to highlight this song from that film first not because I love the movie in any particular sense, and not just because I think it’s the weakest song on this list, but because to my surprise, James Horner has clearly modeled this song off of pieces of music from Star Trek The Motion Picture. As he states in an interview about Star Trek II, James Horner explained that he had been invited by composer, Jerry Goldsmith, to sit in on his sessions for The Motion Picture, which helped James immensely with his own further understanding of film composition. And from what I gathered by the way he described those sessions, James really didn’t enter into this business of composing for film from the get go, but rather he chose to change into it because he was fascinated by the mathematics and the technique of scoring for film: which can be a very tricky process, especially while the film is still being edited and worked on.
I therefore take that bit of information as confirmation that this song is indeed modeled after Jerry Goldsmith’s work, as the piece not only includes a familiar low twanging noise, reminiscent of the V’ger sound, but also greatly resembles many portions from the “Spock’s Walk” sequence, where Spock ventures inside V’ger’s interior.
Ever since I saw Battle Beyond the Stars, I’ve been rather fond of this piece, as it has a lot of dark energy and excitement to it, despite the fact that the visuals on screen don’t quite match the quality of the underscoring music, nor does the scene featuring this music ever lead to anything remotely exciting later in response to the dark and mysterious tone set here.