The Legacy of James Horner: No. 6 “Heritage of the Wolf”
[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.]
Now truth be told, the Balto soundtrack does not have as many easily memorable pieces or singable tracks as all of the others that I will be featuring here, but it nonetheless still has one of the strongest soundtracks and most notable on James Horner’s discography.
I think it also stands as a solid score because of how fitting and how well-crafted the visuals and the story are in Balto, and the animation is some of the best you will ever see from a non-Disney production of that time. So the music cannot falter, and it must partner with the story properly so that every story beat sinks in.
And nowhere in the film is that concept more prominent or effective than when we see Balto at both his lowest, and subsequently his strongest and highest point: when he finally understands what and who he is… a wolf.
I’ve thankfully found a clip of this scene with the accompanying visuals, and I’m glad I found one with all of the sound effects included, because I don’t think this scene works nearly as well without the uplifting sound of the wolf howls, as they are what make this scene work even more than the music does. But the music is just as important to its success.
I hope a chill runs up your spine as it does mine every time I watch this scene. It’s quite invigorating.