The Pagemaster Soundtrack Review: This is a review of the film score The Pagemaster by James Horner.
At a glance:
Geek Score: 100
Total Minutes Of Excellence: 57.3
Album Excellence: 100%
The Pagemaster is a 1994 American live-action/animated fantasy adventure film directed by Joe Johnston, Maurice Hunt and starring Macaulay Culkin, Christopher Lloyd and Ed Begley, Jr. Also featuring the voices of Patrick Stewart, Whoopi Goldberg and Leonard Nimoy. A storm forces frightened Richard Tyler (Macaulay Culkin) inside a nearby library for shelter. Mr. Dewey (Christopher Lloyd), the librarian, sees that Richard needs an adventure and tries to give the boy a book, but all Richard wants is a phone. Before he can call his parents (Ed Begley Jr., Mel Harris), Richard slips on the floor, hits his head and passes out. When he wakes up, he finds himself in a fantasy land populated by famous literary characters. The score is composed by James Horner.
Most of this score was released in 1994 by Fox Records, but now the full score is here, remastered and everything plus a couple of songs and extras by La-La Land Records. I remember this film and score, well more score than film if I’m perfectly honest. I know I thought the film was charming though, but it got slaughtered by most of the critics. The score though was as good as you would expect from Horner scoring an animated film, in other words quite excellent. Can’t wait to hear it again after all these years. The score opens with ‘Main Title’ a magical sounding opening with choir and harp before the main theme takes form in an excellent fanfare. Yes, it’s excellent, but it’s in fact a beautiful arrangement of one of the themes from Glory, one of Horner’s most excellent scores. It is also the theme on which Horner created the EMMY nominated song “Whatever You Imagine” sung by Wendy Moten also featured on this score. From the main theme we go into a storm. ‘A stormy Ride To The Library’ opens with a massive epic sounding piece, but it’s a much more interesting cue than just the epic action. It’s fun adventurous Horner, and I love it!
I would say that this is quite similar to Krull, but it sounds more refined, more intelligent. Krull was just a blast from start to finish, but here you have a lot more and Horner plays with various genres such as fantasy, drama, comedy, horror and more all in this wonderful little score. A stunning cue in the middle of all the adventure is ‘Meeting Adventure And Fantasy’ a beautiful piece of inventive and imaginative music from Horner, ranging from light, fluffy all the way to dark epic. And in all that a couple of gorgeous themes. Apart from the numerous “Hornerisms” you can hear quite clearly throughout the score, it’s not your typical Horner score of that era, but it does have nods (big ones) to former glory like Krull, Willow, Something Wicked This Way Comes and Glory. There has long been rumours of ghostwriting, although I couldn’t find any info on that in the impressive liner notes. Nah, it sounds Horner to me so unless proven otherwise, it’s 100% Horner for me. Horner takes a note from Korngold’s playbook and creates some amazing swashbuckling music with ’Towards The Sea…” and ‘Pirates!’. Stunning! Yeah this whole score is so gorgeous, yet I hear a lot of people don’t appreciate this one. How? If so it must be maybe Horner’s most under appreciated work. This one deserves awards. Bloody brilliant and now you can own it and hear it for yourself. What a great time to be alive!
1. Main Title *
2. Dad Builds Treehouse
3. A Stormy Ride To the Library *
4. Library Card
5. The Library… The Pagemaster…
6. Meeting Adventure And Fantasy
7. Baskerville Hound
9. Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde
10. A Narrow Escape
11. Towards The Open Sea… *
12. Pirates! *
14. Fire Breathing Dragon *
15. Swallowed Alive! / The Wonder In Books *
16. New Courage / The Magic Of Imagination