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Once Around
  • Composed by James Horner
  • Varèse Sarabande / 1991 / 34m

A romantic drama, Once Around stars Holly Hunter as a woman who starts a relationship with and then marries a much older man, Richard Dreyfuss, with profound effects on her family.  It was the first film directed by Lasse Hallström following his move to Hollywood from Sweden.  The director’s most successful films generally came in the aftermath of this one and were scored by Rachel Portman but for Once Around he picked James Horner, whose brief score shares the short soundtrack album with a few songs.  There are actually only four Horner tracks on it, running around twenty minutes between them – and the first of those is “Big Band on Ice”, one of those swing pieces the composer found himself doing mystifyingly often for a while – well, I say it’s Horner because it’s not credited to anyone else on the album cover, but neither is an instrumental version of “Fly Me to the Moon”, and I’m pretty sure he didn’t write that one – I suspect there’s a bit of adaptation of standards going on alongside his original contributions to the cue.  In any case, it’s very nice.

Nicer still though are the three tracks of proper score.  There’s a surprise to anyone listening in 2016 because the opening score cue, “The Apology”, opens with a motif that’s very closely related to one of the themes from The Land Before Time but changed just enough that it’s virtually identical to Hans Zimmer’s main theme from Interstellar.  It seems rather unlikely that Zimmer would be familiar with this score, which probably means both composers nicked it from a classical piece (I don’t know what, but my money’s on Benjamin Britten – do let me know in the comments section if you know what it is).  The rest of the cue moves between that motif, which is just gorgeous, and a more long-lined theme which has a pastoral quality.  “The Arrival” continues the whimsical feel, with gorgeous reed solos over a familiar twinkly piano figure.  Finally there’s a nine-minute finale, “A Passage of Time”, which is everything you’d expect a James Horner nine-minute finale to this film to be – the three themes introduced in the opening tracks are each explored in great depth, the composer shamelessly aims for maximum emotional manipulation and then delivers on it 100%.  What Once Around lacks in quantity it more than makes up in quality – anybody who loves the composer’s emotional music will absolutely love it, and being an old softy, that group most certainly includes me.  It may be one of his most obscure scores, but it’s surely one of his sweetest.

Rating: **** | |

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  1. James Southall (Reply) on Tuesday 5 April, 2016 at 07:52

    Thanks to Erik Woods – the theme in question is from Bartok’s The Wooden Prince

  2. Schnurpsel (Reply) on Tuesday 5 April, 2016 at 16:27

    So, if it’s the Wooden Prince, then it appears also in the opening minutes of “The Great Migration” from LAND BEFORE TIME. 😉

  3. J.B. (Reply) on Wednesday 6 April, 2016 at 00:31

    The theme sounds much closer to a Catalani aria (Ebben) from his opera La Wally, which predates the Bartok by twenty years.