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JAMES HORNER FILM MUSIC | May 31, 2020 |

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LEGENDS OF THE FALL EXPANDED EDITION: OUR EXCLUSIVE REVIEW

LEGENDS OF THE FALL EXPANDED EDITION: OUR EXCLUSIVE REVIEW

On 19 April 1994, James Horner finished recording at Abbey Road Studios with the London Symphony Orchestra. He had just delivered one of the most lyrical and romantic pieces of music in his career: Legends Of The Fall. Exactly twenty-six years and two days later, at a time when the world is undergoing a profound crisis, Intrada, in collaboration with TriStar Pictures and Sony Music Entertainment has gifted us all a stellar two-disc deluxe edition, expanding the already generous original album to include the complete score and providing over 35 minutes of alternates, extended cues and film edits.

Completists will be happy to know that every note heard in the film is on the new album. So complete is Intrada’s presentation, in fact, that the cue Susannah restores music cut from the film. All the previously unreleased cues are here: the early scenes with Susannah (Susannah’s Arrival, The Train Station, Susannah), Samuel’s letter home from the front (The Letter), Susannah’s decision to stay at the ranch after Samuel’s death (Susannah Stays On), Tristan’s return from the war and his liaison with Susannah (Coming Home, Tristan and Susannah), the early stages of Tristan’s lapse into madness and his unwillingness to shoot the bear that will ultimately prove to be his demise (The Calf and The Bear), the montage cue covering Tristan’s love affair with Isabel Two and his bootlegging activities (Tristan’s Quiet Heart), Tristan’s imprisonment and Susannah’s visit (Tristan Goes To Jail, The Last Visit) and the scene with Tristan and Alfred by Samuel’s grave prior to the story’s finale (A Moment Alone).

So what exactly is the impact of the new cues in terms of listening enjoyment?
Whereas the 1994 album offered us a story told over the course of 75 impressive minutes, the new Intrada edition features a presentation of the score reaching almost 99 minutes. To this could have been added the 2 minutes and 14 seconds of the bear attack at the beginning of the film, which are part of the extras (Legends of the Fall Extended Version) and the one additional minute at the end of Tristan's Return which closes the second disc. In short, to listen to this new album is to embark on a 100-minute journey through the beautiful landscapes of Montana. Is this a recipe for overload or monotony? You might think so, but not if you loved the original album. James Horner’s excellent orchestrations and the twelve themes he composed for this melodrama mean you won’t be bored for a second.
Of course you already knew the additional tracks if you owned the special edition DVD, which featured an isolated score track, but listening to a CD without the film is quite different, yielding a new and welcome listening experience.
 
First of all, there are the 7 minutes that now separate the opening track Legends of the Fall and The Ludlows. For 25 years we were used to the sequence of these two pieces, now we enjoy a smoother setting of the musical dramaturgy, like this long note, played by the strings and held for twelve seconds, which opens the second track Susannah's Arrival, The Train Station. This is followed by gentle woodwinds which intone the "departures and arrivals" theme. The track presents two new variations, before settling back into the familiar musical storyline as the characters' lives evolve.
Then comes Susannah, a cue as beautiful as Julia Ormond's smile. It allows us to enjoy on a CD album Tristan's first appearance to the sound of a majestic horn, then to hear twice the magnificent Ranch theme orchestrated for woodwinds and a distinctive fiddle performed by Jay Ungar. The magnificent woodwinds are one of the biggest assets of this cue as they wonderfully counterbalance the soaring brass and strings. Moreover, a clarinet and an oboe add to the happiness of discovering this track, which offers ninety seconds (2:30 – 4:00) which will be completely new to any fan of the score since it was absent both from the original album and from the movie. The two instruments interpret the sadness theme, one of the score’s most beautiful melodies and most often associated with the character of Susannah. This theme benefits the most from Intrada’s expansion because it goes from two short statements in The Ludlows and the end credits (1994 album) to five appearances on the 2020 album. In fact, two statements can be found in the cue Susannah and one in the short cue The Letter, which is entirely built around it. These three new appearances only add to the idea’s stunning beauty and remind us of why we fell in love with James Horner's music in the first place. It’s all about the heart-wrenching nature of his music, which always finds a way to move us with the rarest of emotions.
The seven minutes of Susannah's Arrival, The Train Station and Susannah tug at the heartstrings while improving the musical storyline. Indeed, they allow us to settle more delicately into the musical world built by James Horner and to get used to the sweetness of life on the ranch, which later comes to fruition in the very well known The Ludlows.
 
After the previously released tracks related to the war (Off To War, To The Boys and Samuel's Death), we are treated to six new minutes with the very sweet Susannah Stays On, which also draws from the combination of woodwinds and strings, and the very romantic Coming Home, Tristan And Susannah.
Early on, Coming Home echoes Tristan's first appearance in the cue Susannah. This musical parallel follows Edward Zwick's visual parallel, with Brad Pitt's silhouette again drawn on the horizon. Tristan returns from the war every bit the hero everyone expected and the music presents the character as somewhat larger-than-life, even more so later in the score in Tristan's Return. After this introduction, the cue leads to the main theme featured in Legends of the Fall, which Horner goes on to drop entirely until the last scene of the film, and then to a magnificent sequence with the reunion theme from the finale of A Far Off Place (1993), the sadness theme and the family theme linked to Samuel. These overwhelmingly beautiful minutes lead to the love scene between Tristan and Susannah, scored with Tristan’s theme. Magnificently orchestrated for harp, woodwinds and strings, the cue shows how Tristan’s existential pain and restlessness temporarily subside.
 
The peace in Tristan's soul is short-lived: in The Calf and The Bear, strings, synthesizers, panpipes, percussion and a trumpet bring back the dark colors of the war and look ahead to the orchestral outburst of the next cue, Farewell, Descent Into Madness, which marks Tristan's departure for a solitary journey of several years in an attempt to exorcise his inner demons.
The second part of Intrada’s score presentation departs from the original album’s architecture, which presented the themes in an order that did not respect the chronology of the story but whose narrative was coherent in terms of musical colors. On the 2020 album, Goodbyes is no longer at the end of the album. It appears just after Tristan’s triumphant return, and Recollections of Samuel no longer follows Isabel's Murder but precedes it.
 
The final stretch of Intrada’s score presentation comes with two additions: the short cues Tristan's Quiet Heart and A Moment Alone. The former draws from Tristan’s theme at a time when the protagonist is at peace again, while the latter presents a moving and nostalgic statement of the family theme for fiddle and harp.
Finally, the previously unreleased three-minute Tristan Goes To Jail, Last Visit offers, like Coming Home, Tristan And Susannah, an interesting sequence of themes and fully wraps up Tristan and Susannah’s story with the dark colors of death and revenge developed two years earlier in Patriot Games (1992).
 
The extras kick off with the beloved Twilight and Mist. It was a pleasant surprise to find it is quite lengthy, given the precious few seconds of it heard on-screen and as a modified introduction to The Ludlows on the original album.
The opening cue Legends Of The Fall is presented in two additional variations, one an extension featuring material of a bear hunt, the encounter that would come full-circle by film's end. The other variation is essentially disc 1, track 1, but without the accompanying violin solo.
There is also a lovely alternate of The Train Station, a version of The Changing Seasons without the low F note synthesizer drone, the film version of Tristan's Return which extends beyond the heartwarming moment of father and son reuniting after so many years and Colonel Ludlow's health failing him.
To close the album, an edit of Alfred, Tristan, The Colonel, The Legend which truncates the end credits by three minutes to fit the final film.
 
 
The hour's worth of additional music that complete the score are all fully on par with the pre-existing material in terms of sonics. The music has a very warm, organic presence with wide dynamics captured by Shawn Murphy, all preserved here by expert restoration and archive specialists Mike Matessino and Neil S. Bulk. In terms of a straight comparison to the original album, one cannot really improve on perfection and no revisionist approaches have been taken with this music. It has a mere 3 decibel gain and room to breathe a little with slightly extended lead-in / lead-out time of each track. It is a fantastic presentation all-around and the quality is sublime.
 
Rounding out the new release are the customary in-depth notes by Frank DeWald in essay format, the original album's notes by director Edward Zwick, and artwork that serves as an extension to the original album's design while keeping with Intrada's template. This new album is a wonderful way to bring Horner’s monumental achievement back into the spotlights, at a time when the world could use a little of his musical magic and comforts.
 
Some years ago, James Horner Film Music presented its own analysis of the score, not on a cue-to-cue basis, but theme by theme, and statement by statement. This approach makes sense, since for this sprawling epic, James Horner brought into play no fewer than twelve themes and used them whenever possible. After updating our analysis so that the timings reflect the new and definitive Intrada album, we are proud to republish the article for your enjoyment.
 
 
After Glory (1989) and before Courage Under Fire (1996), the composer met up with the American director Edward Zwick for this adaptation of Jim Harrison's eponymous short novel, which brought together on screen Brad Pitt, Anthony Hopkins, Henry Thomas, Julia Ormond and Aidan Quinn.
The story of Legends Of The Fall takes place in the wild plains of Montana on the eve of World War I. Over several decades we follow the dramatic events lived by the Ludlows: three brothers (Alfred, Tristan and Samuel) and their father, Colonel William Ludlow. Their lives will be upset by the arrival of the beautiful Susannah Fincannon, bride of Samuel, the youngest of the brothers. The latter will immediately be attracted to Tristan, while Alfred, the elder, falls madly in love with her.
The music, beautifully performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, offers us many exciting and passionate themes embellished by the orchestrations of James Horner, Thomas Pasatieri and Don Davis, as well as the contributions of many talented soloists: Jay Ungar and Dermot Crehan for their fiddle solos, Kazu Matsui on the shakuhachi, Tony Hinnigan and Mike Taylor on flutes, and Maggie Boyle's voice. For the song Twilight and Mist sung by Henry Thomas in the film, of which only the piano solo is included on the album, James Horner has once again appealed to the songwriter Brock Walsh, with whom he had worked on Hocus Pocus (Sarah's Theme – 1993).
The original album, which was an impressive 75 minutes in duration, was released at the same time as the film in January, 1995, eight months after its recording. The enthusiasm of the audience for the music enabled the disc to remain in the top 200 of American sales for seven weeks. It was somehow a foreshadowing of major discographic success that would be shared by Braveheart, Titanic, and The Mask Of Zorro in subsequent years.
 
We present an analysis of the themes of Legends Of The Fall, first their different appearances in the film and on the Intrada album, then a description of each. Indeed, one of the striking features of this essential and splendid score is its thematic richness. James Horner created twelve themes which each occupy their own place of importance. We assigned a letter to each theme, and each occurrence is numbered.
 

A-1) As a teenager Tristan is hunting in the forest while the Indian "One Stab" recounts his birth and the education he has received. (Legends Of The Fall 0:57-1:35)
A-2) "One Stab" presents a collection of letters that will tell the life of Tristan. (Legends of the Fall Extended Version 5:29-5:55)
A-3) Susannah snuggles up to Tristan and cries, begging him to prevent Samuel from going to war. This intimacy lingers, their eyes meet and they realize the chemistry developing between them. (Off to War 0:06-0:44)
A-4) Tristan, Samuel and Alfred participate in an attack in the German trenches. (To The Boys 0:51-1:46)
A-5) Tristan on a galloping horse searches for Samuel who left to reconnoiter the front. (Samuel's Death 0:26-0:40)
A-6) Tristan runs to Samuel who is caught in a jumble of barbed wire and blinded by mustard gas. (Samuel's Death 3:04-3:09)
A-7) Tristan prepares to remove Samuel's heart after he has been shot by the Germans. (Samuel's Death 4:48-4:52)
A-8) Tristan kills the Germans, takes their scalps and returns to camp in the morning under the eyes of his countrymen. (Samuel's Death 6:20-7:05)
A-9) Tristan and Susannah make love. (Coming Home / Tristan and Susannah 4:08-4:40)
A-10) Tristan refrains from shooting the Grizzly suspected of killing calves on the ranch. (The Calf and The Bear 1:26-2:24)
A-11) Tristan’s suicide attempt by Samuel’s grave. (Farewell, Descent Into Madness 0:36-1:12)
A-12) Tristan silently prepares his horse to leave the ranch (Farewell, Descent Into Madness 2:15-2:30)
A-13) Susannah tries to keep Tristan from leaving (Farewell, Descent Into Madness 2:47-3:19)
A-14) Tristan leaves the ranch for several months. Isabel II runs after him and watches him go. The following shot (4:54) shows Tristan sailing a tall ship in the middle of the ocean. (Farewell, Descent Into Madness 4:30-5:14)
A-15) Tristan writes to Susannah and tells her about his activity as a hunter and the "death" of their love. (Farewell, Descent Into Madness 7:11-7:15 then 7:47-8:00)
A-16) After years of absence, Tristan returns to the ranch with a herd of horses. (The Changing Seasons, Wild Horses, Tristan's Return 2:04-2:51)
A-17) Tristan sees Susannah in the garden of the house which she shares with Alfred in Helena. (Goodbyes 0:13-0:22)
A-18) Tristan, at peace, meditates near Samuel’s grave and sees the ranch in the distance. (Goodbyes 2:20-2:40)
A-19) Tristan falls in love with Isabel II who has now grown into a beautiful woman. The Colonel tries to assemble the rifle his son gave him. Tristan becomes a bootlegger. (Tristan’s Quiet Heart)
A-20) Tristan buries his wife, Isabel. (Isabel’s Murder 0:42-1:30)
A-21) Tristan learns that he must do 30 days in jail for the assault on the officer who shot Isabel II. He spends time in their room before surrendering. (Tristan Goes To Jail, Last Visit 0:05-0:34)
A-22) Tristan sees Susannah who comes to visit him in prison. (Tristan Goes To Jail, Last Visit 0:51-1:04)
A-23) Three men with the sheriff have come to kill Tristan. (Alfred, Tristan, The Colonel, The Legend 0:00-0:35)
A-24) Tristan is out hunting when he encounters the bear that kills him. (Alfred, Tristan, The Colonel, The Legend 5:44-6:54)
A-25) Closing Credits – 7th and final theme (Alfred, Tristan, The Colonel, The Legend 13:47-14:10)
 
 
"Some people hear their own inner voices with great clearness. And they live by what they hear. Such people become crazy or they become … Legend"
The story of Legends of the Fall tells us about the life of Tristan Ludlow, so it makes sense that he is musically the most represented on the album and in the film. James Horner composed one of the greatest themes of his career, a powerful, passionate and dramatic melody totally appropriate to the character's wild and disturbing nature.
Over the course of 25 statements orchestrated in a variety of ways, the theme reflects the character’s turbulent life. Kazu Matsui's shakuhachi often lends it a heartrending or mystical character. It is this Japanese flute which introduces the theme along with the pan flute (A-1, A-2), giving the young man a wild and mysterious aura that does not leave Susannah indifferent, and that will accompany their relationship (A-3, A-17, A-22). Both instruments also serve to emphasize Tristan's attraction to the Native American culture, which "One Stab" has shared with him from his childhood.
During the World War I sequences , the horn and trumpets offer more than a touch of heroism at the beginning of Samuel's Death (A-5), the theme has dramatic (A-4), desperate (A-6) and tragic (A-7) colors mainly through the strings, reflecting the events which will mark Tristan forever.
After the death of Samuel (A-7), the theme delves deep into the troubled psyche of the character and becomes darker and even ferocious at times: the bloody night out in the German trenches (A-8) and the attempted suicide near the grave of his brother (A-11) are the most striking examples. It is interesting to note that these two instances use the same crescendo of strings, suggesting that Tristan's mental state is the same in both situations.
Although highly reflective of Tristan's turbulent nature, the theme does, however, blossom into softer and gentler statements for harp and woodwinds during his brief passion with Susannah (A-9) or during the years of happiness spent with Isabel II (A-18, A-19).
While the early cues of the score are monopolized by theme B (see below), theme A takes center stage as the story moves along. It has a capacity for conveying great, evocative power and deep human emotions: between them, a mournful flute and melancholic oboe superbly portray the heartache between Susannah and Tristan (A-12, A-13), the shakuhachi speaks to the heart-wrenching separation as he leaves the ranch (A-14), a lone trumpet (A-15) illustrates Tristan's bestial thoughts and accompanies the four-note motif when he's writing a letter, sealing the end of his relationship with Susannah.
Then, during Tristan's return to the ranch, the brass expose the sensational power of the theme (A-16). This musical brilliance brings to the character's reappearance an almost mythical aspect worthy of the legends reported back to Montana, and evoking his journeys around the world. When Tristan dismounts and places his feet anew on this land where he was born, the first notes of the theme played by the strings amplify a feeling of surrealism, as if the long-awaited return came straight out of the imagination, like a demi-god in a legendary story.
 
 
The burial of Isabel II is also haunted by the theme in the shape of a motif of seven sharp, scathing and snarling notes symbolizing the immense injury that further strikes Tristan following the accidental death of his wife (A-20).
When men come looking for Tristan to kill him at the end of the film, the beginning of the theme is sung by Maggie Boyle (A-23). It is accompanied by the two violin notes of the theme of revenge and death (H-6).
For the death of the character (A-24), a horn supports the shakuhachi and brings both gravity and majesty to the scene. The album and the closing credits end with one last, dark statement (A-25) where the first notes of the theme are accompanied by basses which will be heard a few years later in Titanic evoking the dark cold of the ocean.
 

B-1) Appearance of the film's title and opening shot showing a river through the trees of a forest in autumn colors. (Legends Of The Fall 0:07-0:35)
B-2) Presentation of the ranch and the plains of Montana. Childhood of the Ludlow sons. (Legends Of The Fall 1:58-2:59)
B-3) The three brothers watch their mother leave the ranch and go into town. "One Stab" draws on Tristan’s face and introduces him to Indian culture and rituals. (Legends Of The Fall 3:20-4:00)
B-4) Tristan appears distantly on the plain as the family, who picked up Samuel and his bride at the train station, return to the ranch. (Susannah 0:00-1:04).
B-5) Immediately after Tristan's greetings, the three brothers have fun and the family arrives at the ranch. Pet, the maid, shows Susannah to her room. (Susannah 1:04-1:45)
B-6) Susannah gets a shooting lesson from the Colonel, Alfred, and Samuel. Then by the window of her room, she sees Tristan trying to tame a horse. (The Ludlows 1:37 to 2:19)
B-7) Music not used in the film (The Ludlows 2:52-3:30)
Note: from 2:36 to 4:27 of the track The Ludlows is not featured in the film.
B-8) Farewell between Tristan and Isabel II, Alfred, and Susannah then Samuel and Susannah. (Off To War 2:04-2:57)
B-9) The departure of the three brothers to war. (Off To War 4:54-5:49)
Note: The film and album versions of Off To War are different. In the film (30:00-30:54), the theme sounds less triumphant.
B-10) Tristan returns from the war (Coming Home / Tristan and Susannah 0:43-1:46)
B-11) Alfred has just shot the sheriff to save his father and Tristan. The Colonel warmly embraces him and reconciles with his eldest son. (Alfred, Tristan, The Colonel, The Legend 2:22-3:20)
B-12) Tristan asks Alfred to take care of his children. (Alfred, Tristan, The Colonel, The Legend. 4:10-4:33)
B-13) Closing Credits – 4th theme (Alfred, Tristan, The Colonel, The Legend 10:10-11:32)
 
 
The whole spirit of the film is encapsulated in this theme: the wild beauty of Montana, the bonds of brotherhood… The melody emphasizes the link between the three boys: it is heard, for example, during their childhood (B-2, B-3), during moments when they are seen interacting in an organic and harmonious way (B-5) or when they go off to war together (B-9).
Performed by the strings, it is a dense theme which comments both on nature and on the romantically idealized life in the ruggedly handsome Montana scenery. But other orchestrations expand the melody’s colors: its first appearance in solo trumpet (B-1) sounds like the opening of a book promising a great epic in a beautiful setting, panpipes (B-3) evoke the Native American culture, a constant element underlying the main story, and the horn gives the theme a warm sheen during the reunion of the brothers at the beginning of the story (B-4).
 

When Tristan returns from the war (B-10), the theme is played more slowly. It sounds painfully stretched, as if the enthusiasm and the bonds of brotherhood were broken. After the tragedies of war, innocence and naïveté are indeed lost forever. Tristan returns home, leaving behind the horrors of the conflict. The music expresses a kind of reassurance, the comforting allure of home and hearth.
Theme (B) is the flagship of the film’s first half-hour but then disappears altogether for an hour, replaced by Tristan’s theme (A), which becomes the central element. Not until the last scene, when Alfred reconciles with Tristan and his father, does it return for one of its most beautiful incarnations. It marks the resolution of the conflict that kept them apart for so many years. The theme explodes passionately when the Colonel clutches his son and is overcome with joy, and the story’s protagonists savor a rediscovered happiness. By bringing back this theme after having abandoned it for an entire hour, James Horner reminds the audience of the youthful emotions from the beginning of the film, in fact amplifying them, because we realize the long path traveled by the characters.

Often preceded by an epic, resonant motif played by the brass that will return in Mighty Joe Young (Dedication and Windsong), this graceful theme is the quintessence of the story. This is one of those themes that grabs your attention from the get-go and is utterly sweeping in its wide spectrum of emotions. It is like the mountains of Montana: gorgeous.
 


C-1) "One Stab" mentions that Isabel Ludlow, the mother of the three brothers, favored leaving the ranch for the city. (Legends Of The Fall 3:00-3:19)
C-2) Isabel Ludlow writes to the Colonel to announce the impending arrival of young Samuel with his fiancée. A train brings the two lovers to Montana. (Susannah’s Arrival 0:13-1:48)
C-3) After a short dialogue, the theme returns for a musical interlude accompanying Susannah getting into the car and the departure to the ranch. (The Train Station 1:49-2:27)
C-4) The Colonel’s farewell to his three sons before their departure for war. (Off To War 3:18-3:54)
C-5) Alfred leaves the ranch and moves to Helena. He writes to his mother to tell her of his arrival in the city, his encounters, and his work. (Alfred Moves To Helena 0:00-1:48)
C-6) Welcomed by the Colonel, Isabel Ludlow comes back to the ranch for Tristan's wedding. She brings her wedding dress to Isabel II. The ceremony takes place in a small group. The two newlyweds exchange caresses in their bed. (The Wedding 0:26-1:35)
C-7) Susannah writes to Tristan to congratulate him on the birth of his son, Samuel. Isabel II is expecting a second child. (The Wedding 2:15-2:40)
C-8) After having been out of touch for years, Alfred, Susannah, Tristan and Isabel II meet in town and talk. (Recollections Of Samuel 0:38-1:20 then 1:40-2:04)
C-9) End Credits – 5th theme (Alfred, Tristan, The Colonel, The Legend 11:36-12:18)
 
 
For a while, it seems this is Alfred's theme, because it unfolds during the two minutes where the older brother tells his mother he has moved to town (C-5). However, Horner uses the theme for two purposes. First, it appears whenever a character arrives at or leaves the ranch: Isabel Ludlow’s departure (C-1), the three brothers going off to war (C-3), Alfred’s departure for a career in the city (C-5), the arrival of Samuel and Susannah (C-2 and C-3), the arrival of Isabel Ludlow for Tristan’s wedding (C-6), the arrival of Tristan's son (C-7).
Secondly, these appearances ultimately correspond to stages in life: the emancipation of a mother who leaves the ranch and leaves her children (C-1), Susannah’s introduction and her engagement with Samuel (C-3), Alfred starting a professional career (C-5), Tristan marrying Isabel II (C-6) and finally parenthood, with Tristan becoming a father (C-7).
This is an elegant theme with a broad part and a bouncier one. This second part is presented first, with the departure of the mother (C-1). It makes the transition between two appearances of the Legends of the Fall theme (B-2 and B-3) and corresponds well with the bourgeois image, telling of a distinguished city dame who is unfit for a rural life in the wild plains of Montana. This refinement will always follow her: we hear it when Alfred writes to her (C-5) or when she returns to the ranch to bring Isabel II the wedding dress (C-6).
The first part of the theme first appears when we see Isabel Ludlow confront her husband on the issue of parenting (C-2). She tells him that Samuel is coming to Montana with his fiancée. This is a slow, almost hesitant version of the theme performed by the woodwinds. The orchestral palette opens up when the train arrives and we see Samuel and Susannah getting out. The aristocratic side of the melody also befits the arrival of the couple, who met at Harvard. Note that Samuel’s reunion with his brother Alfred and with the Colonel is musically reminiscent of the reunion between Natty Gann and her father (Reunion / End TitleThe Journey Of Natty Gann -1985).
When Alfred gets settled in Helena (C-5), the first broad part of the theme appears at the start of the track and last until 0:56, when Alfred shakes hands with his father and gets into a car. From 0:56 to 1:23, the second part of the theme accompanies Alfred during various meetings: advisers, friends, bankers and customers who will help him set up business. Finally he opens his office with the return of the first part of the theme (1:24 to 1:48). Horner happens to match each musical phrase with each change of location, which gives an elegant fluidity to the sequence.

Finally, when Alfred is surprised to meet Tristan in town, Horner brings the theme back one more time: the two brothers take stock of their lives and the path they have traveled so far (C-8).
 


D-1) On horseback, Samuel introduces Susannah to roping. (The Ludlows 0:40 to 1:36)
D-2) Music featured on the album but not in the film (Off To War 4:04 to 4:41) Note: the film version of Off To War is different than on the album.
D-3) On horseback, Tristan and Susannah herd the cattle. (Alfred Moves To Helena 1:59-2:49)
D-4) Susannah awaits Tristan’s return and gives a voice-over account of news at the ranch. (Farewell, Descent Into Madness 5:32-6:49)
D-5) "One Stab" sings to celebrate Tristan’s return after so many years of absence (The Changing Seasons, Wild Horses, Tristan's Return 4:49-5:00).
D-6) Tristan gives presents to his family members (Tristan’s Return (Film Version) 4:15-5:13)
D-7) Isabel II gives birth to her first child. Tristan is shown his son. (The Wedding 1:36-2:15)
D-8) Susannah comes to visit Tristan in prison. (Tristan Goes To Jail, The Last Visit 1:18-2:07)
D-9) Alfred and Tristan meet by Susannah’s grave (A Moment Alone 0:15-0:21)
 
It is hard to tell of happiness. Time goes by and we feel safe too soon.” 
After Theme C, which seemed to be linked to Alfred, the five appearances of theme D coincide with Susannah being on screen. Again, that does not necessarily make this her theme, because Horner also uses the idea in contexts that have nothing to do with Susannah. The most telling example is the birth of Isabel II and Tristan’s son (D-7), when the melody soars with a long chime and expresses the happiness of birth. In the end, happiness is probably what all the appearances of this melody have in common. What is Susannah’s part in this? Well, her arrival at the ranch brought joy to the world of the Ludlow men.
 
 
There is overwhelming happiness during her two scenes on horseback (D-1 and D-3), during which Susannah looks radiant. That luster does not leave her, not even during Tristan’s absence (D-4) even if the theme disappears here (Farewell, Descent Into Madness 6:37), as if Tristan’s silence made her lose light and hope.
With Tristan’s return, joy fills anew the hearts of the ranch’s denizens: "One Stab" sings with joy (D-5) and Tristan hands out presents to everyone (D-6). Susannah is no longer present but this does not keep the theme from illustrating these moments of sharing and serenity restored.
The final two appearances of the theme at the end of the film are very discreet because the enchantment so characteristic of Susannah has faded with time. Only a few notes remain when she comes to visit Tristan in prison (D-8) and when Alfred and Tristan reminisce at her grave (D-9).
This melody allowed James Horner to express the happiness and well-being that we feel when sharing moments of joy with loved ones and with our family. The music here is speaks to a simple yet rewarding life filled with harmony.
 

 

 


E-1) Samuel explains to Susannah the names of the flowers in their bedroom and they kiss. Then several shots show the beauty of Montana, the horses and ranch life. (Susannah 1:45-2:29)
E-2) Susannah tells Samuel how much she loves the wild and wonderful nature of the ranch and the land. (Susannah 3:22-4:00)
E-3) Tristan approaches a horse and tries to tame it (The Ludlows 2:20-2:36).
E-4) Music on the album but not used in the film (The Ludlows 4:10 to 4:27)
E-5) Playing tennis at the ranch (The Ludlows 4:27-4:42)
E-6) Tristan returns to the ranch after years of absence. The Colonel moves towards him and gives him a hug. (The Changing Seasons, Wild Horses, Tristan's Return 3:28-3:53)
E-7) Some years after their dispute, Tristan and Alfred shake hands and reconcile. (Recollections Of Samuel 1:22-1:38)
E-8) End Credits – 2nd theme (Alfred, Tristan, The Colonel, The Legend 7:54-8:53)
E-9) End credits – 2nd theme bis (Alfred, Tristan, The Colonel, The Legend 9:37-9:53)
 

This theme is all about emotions, James Horner playing on ascending and descending movements.
The orange part highlights chords accompanying the emotional climax of each scene: Samuel and Susannah’s shy kiss (E-1), Tristan breaking a horse (E-3), the embrace between Tristan and his father when the son returns to the ranch (E-6), the handshake that brings Tristan and Alfred together (E-7). In this scene of reconciliation between the two brothers, the theme takes over from Samuel’s theme (F-4) and the stages-of-life theme (C-8). These two moving musical minutes (Recollections Of Samuel) involve a wide range of feelings. The succession of the three themes performed by gentle strings, looking ahead to Bicentennial Man’s Petition Denied and A Beautiful Minds Saying Goodbye To Those You So Love, creates an emotional mêlée that links past, present and future.

 

« I always look for colors that are wistful and have a feeling of past and mean something to me. (…) It's very important for the music to be very intimate to me. I can always make it sound big but certain instruments are just key to unlocking the heart, which is all about what film music is. »
James Horner – October 2013

It should be noted that in its first two appearances, the theme is extended to express the tranquility of Montana and of the ranch, with fiddles (E-1) and flute (E-2).

 


F-1) Samuel sings the song Twilight and Mist. He is accompanied by Susannah at the piano. Tristan, Alfred, and the Colonel listen carefully. During a voice-over moment, the Colonel reads a letter to his wife telling her how happy he is to see his three sons together under the same roof. (The Ludlows 0:00 to 0:39)
F-2) Tristan rides the horse he has trained. The others turn to him in admiration. (The Ludlows 4:42 to 5:34)
F-3) Susannah comforts Tristan by Samuel's grave, they come back together to the ranch (Coming Home, Tristan and Susannah 3:20-3:56)
F-4) Susannah speaks to Tristan's son, Samuel, and tells him how his uncle died in the war. (Recollections Of Samuel 0:00-0:25)
F-5) Tristan observes, nostalgically, the photo Susannah took and which shows him and his two brothers. (A Moment Alone 0:26-1:11)
F-6) End Credits – 1st theme (Alfred, Tristan, The Colonel, The Legend 7:08-7:53)
F-7) End Credits – 7th theme (Alfred, Tristan, The Colonel, The Legend 12:52-13:37)
 
 
Introduced during the song Twilight and Mist, sung by Samuel during a family gathering, the wonderful theme that opens the track, The Ludlows (F-1) returns four times. The first time it concludes the very same song (F-2) and closes the musical loop that accompanies this sequence that shows the family spending a glorious summer at the ranch. This time, it is orchestrated for fiddles, performed by Jay Ungar and Dermot Crehan with the piano in counterpoint. The use of this English instrument brings to the theme an undeniably appropriate folkloric aspect, speaking to the Ludlows’ Cornwall, England, descent.
The theme resurfaces to evoke memories of Samuel after his death: his brother Tristan cries (F-3), the fiddle/piano orchestration is still present but the rhythm is slower, emphasizing the lament. When Susannah speaks to Tristan’s son of Samuel (F-4), the flute replaces the fiddle and the piano gives way to the harp. Years have passed, little Samuel talks about his uncle, so this new orchestration brings softness and a timeless quality.
Finally, the fiddle returns to echo the start of the film, Tristan looking at a photo of his brothers. (F-5) James Horner revives memories of that happy time when the family was complete and unbroken.
Samuel is the character who inadvertently broke the bonds of family by bringing in Susannah, with whom Alfred and Tristan ended up falling in love. Also, Samuel was the one who encouraged them to go off to war with him, and his death long haunted the family. It is therefore logical that this theme encompasses a familial dimension while being bound to the young man.
During the end credits, James Horner uses the idea again to bookend all the other themes and this is very appropriate because it expresses the Ludlows’ soul. Please note that the Intrada album features a longer piano version of the theme in Twilight and Mist (disc 2, track 7).

 


G-1) The Colonel says goodbye to Samuel and Tristan before they are off to war. (Off To War – Movie Version / Movie 29:08 – 29:47)
Note: The film and album versions of Off To War are different.
G-2) The Colonel welcomes Tristan on his return from the war (Coming Home, Tristan and Susannah 1:47-2:15)
G-3) Tristan is in New Guinea, away from his family. Voiceover, Susannah recalls the months that have elapsed without news, having only received a native bracelet. (Farewell, Descent Into Madness 5:14-5:31)
G-4) Reunion between the Colonel and Tristan. The Colonel, who has become mute, writes to his son that he is happy. (The Changing Seasons, Wild Horses, Tristan's Return 4:13-4:49)
G-5) Susannah and Tristan meet again after years of separation. She wants to give the bracelet back to him. He refuses, saying that it was a gift to her. (Goodbyes 1:07-1:30)
G-6) Tristan is forced to leave the ranch to go to jail in Helena. Susannah visits him. (Tristan Goes To Jail, The Last Visit 0:35-0:51)

 
Here, James Horner uses a theme from Dad (1989), a film about the relationship between fathers and sons, a melody he developed in the finale of A Far Off Place (1993), where it commented on the separations and reunions between the main characters.
The idea is the same in Legends of the Fall because we can hear it when Tristan leaves his father and meets him again (G-1, G-2, G-4), or Susannah (G-3, G-5, G-6 ).
The theme’s first use during the departure to war (G-1) is absent from the album, but it appears in the alternative version of the track Off To War used in the film. The melody shows how fond the Colonel is of Tristan. Logically, this affection for his favorite son reappears when Tristan returns from the front (G-2).
However, the emotion conveyed by the theme reaches its climax when Tristan meets his father after years of travel (G-4). This is a particularly poignant moment triggered by an emotional and an ascending theme (F) which accompanies the first embrace, then a delicate oboe marks the transition to the G theme that blossoms when the old man finishes writing "AM HAPPY" on his slate. Strings support their eyes filled with tears of happiness before a clarinet highlights the second embrace between the two men.
With Susannah, there is no reason for any such emphasis: the theme is very discreet with a wood instrument when she recalls the months of separation (G-3), as if Tristan had not missed her. At this time she speaks of a bracelet she received, yet the theme returns, always in the woods (G-5) when she tries to give it back to Tristan during their reunion. Finally, the theme is heard once more, briefly, with the theme of happiness (D-8) when she meets Tristan one last time in prison (G-6).
The short duration of the theme’s last appearances, when it has been downgraded to a motif of sorts, shows that these are only evocations of a past and of a love lost forever, but the young woman seems unable to move on.
 

H-1) The Colonel throws down his sword and abandons the army. (Legends Of The Fall 1:36-1:55)
H-2) Alfred brings back Samuel's heart. He is buried near the river. (Samuel's Death 7:32-7:56)
H-3) Susannah confesses to Tristan that she had wished the deaths of Isabel and Samuel. (Tristan Goes To Jail, The Last Visit 2:32-3:16)
H-4) Tristan and his family prepare their revenge against those who caused the Isabel’s death. (Revenge 1:02-1:46 then 2:18-2:30 and finally 4:45-5:01)
H-5) James O’Banion takes three men, including the sheriff, to the ranch to avenge the death of his brother killed by Tristan. The Colonel comes out to see what's going on. (Alfred, Tristan, The Colonel, The Legend 0:35-1:20)
 

Jim Harrison's short novel is part of a trilogy about vengeance. It is therefore not surprising to find a theme of revenge. James Horner appropriately quotes a cold and morbid theme from Patriot Games (1992), whose story was centered around Sean Miller’s obsession for vengeance after Jack Ryan killed his kid brother (see our article). The link between the two scores is particularly strong, as Irish singer Maggie Boyle, who had already performed on Patriot Games, returns to perform the theme here.
In the prologue of the film, we glimpse a sketch of the theme (H-1). We see the Colonel throw down his sword and leave the army to live off the massacres caused by the greed of man. The idea of vengeance and death has died with him, which is why the theme is only hinted at here.
Snippets of the theme sound during the burial of Samuel's heart at the ranch (H-2), just after the night out when Tristan took his revenge in the German trenches. Maggie Boyle's cold voice laced with dark basses express the mournful and wintry atmosphere of the ceremony. Finally a flute tirelessly repeats four notes of the theme while Susannah's impassive face suggests a mixture of sadness and anger. Fate hounds her: after her parents, she has lost her fiancé. She failed to keep him from going to Europe and dying in a deadly conflict. Her suffering is reminiscent of that of bereaved Irish families, which was an underlying motif in the score for Philip Noyce's film.
The theme returns, performed by double basses, when Susannah despairs and tells Tristan she had wished the death of Isabel II and Samuel (H-3). The melody stirs the negative thoughts in the young woman’s mind.
Maggie Boyle is back for the last appearances of the theme when Tristan prepares his revenge, Susannah falls into a suicidal state (H-4) and men come to avenge the death of their colleague killed by Tristan (H-5). The voice announces the fatal destinies of the characters, like in Highland's Execution (Patriot Games), which scored cold-blooded executions performed by a rogue band of IRA members. In the track Revenge, the parallel with the 1992 score is heightened by the reprise of such dramaturgical elements as synthesizers, the pan flute accompanying the voice and a somber violin performing two strained notes.
 

I-1) Susannah meets Isabel, then aged 13, in the vegetable garden. She tells the young girl she hated going to boarding school as a young girl and that she is going to marry Samuel. Isabel tells her she will marry Tristan later. (Susannah 2:30-3:21)
I-2) Music on the album but not used in the film (The Ludlows 3:32-4:10) Note: 2:36-4:27 of The Ludlows is not present in the film.
I-3) Samuel writes to Susannah apologizing for his impulsive decision to leave her and go off to war. (The Letter 0:00-1:44)
I-4) Susannah watches Tristan crying by Samuel’s grave (Coming Home, Tristan and Susannah 2:45-3:19)
I-5) End Credits – 3rd theme (Alfred, Tristan, The Colonel, The Legend 8:54-9:34)
 


Always performed by woodwinds, played gently with a subtle ornamentation for counterpoint, this theme is perhaps the most sensitive of all. It carries the characters during their time of sorrow in Susannah's presence. This theme benefits the most from Intrada’s expanded edition, which reveals three new statements. It’s the opposite of the happiness theme D also linked to Julia Ormond’s character. By using this theme for the vegetable garden scene, Horner hints at the common (and sad) romantic fate that these two women will come to share: their love of Tristan. (I-1) Over the space of a full minute, the theme is presented by an oboe and a clarinet, which give the music a mournful sensitivity. This also goes for the scene where Samuel writes to Susannah from the trenches, expressing his discouragement (I-3). Finally, the clarinet underlines Tristan’s sobs near the grave of his brother (I-4) with Susannah watching from a short distance.


J-1) Samuel has just died in the arms of his brother, who tries to carry him off the battlefield. (Samuel's Death 4:20-4:47)
J-2) Tristan goes to Isabel II, who has just received a stray bullet, and he carries her body away. (Isabel's Murder 0:00-0:42)
J-3) Tristan heads for Alfred at the end of Isabel II’s funeral (Isabel's Murder 1:32-1:43)
 

Tristan's life is marked by two terrible events: the death of his brother Samuel (J-1) and of his wife Isabel (J-2 and J-3). For each of these events, James Horner uses a theme that begins with a motif of six oppressive notes representing all the gravity that overwhelms the character during these tragic moments. This theme is developed at greater length, with the strings expressing the intense emotional wounds, a musical setting that would return shortly afterwards, in the Betrayal cue from Braveheart. The strings give way to a dramatic statement of Tristan's theme, which finds itself changed by the onscreen events: after Samuel's death, Tristan decides to take his brother's heart (A-7) and later in the story, feelings of revenge stir in his heart during Isabel Two’s funeral (A-20).
When the family return to the ranch after the burial, the six-note motif concludes the scene as it had started it (J-3), reminding the characters of a pain that will not go away.
 

 


K-1) Reunion after years of separation between Tristan and Susannah. (Goodbyes 0:23-1:06)
K-2) Susannah hugs and kisses Tristan through the bars of his cell. (Tristan Goes To Jail, The Last Visit 1:18-2:07)
K-3) End Credits – 6th theme (Alfred, Tristan, The Colonel, The Legend 12:20-12:50)
 

 
This is the theme that marks the link between Tristan and Susannah after the end of their relationship. It recalls both the intensity of the passion they shared and the nostalgia and regret felt by the young woman. This theme manages to express in music what, as she wrote to Tristan, remains unspoken and unresolved between them. James Horner exceled at evoking the past that might-have-been and this romantic theme is further proof of that.
Note that the piano is used four times to evoke the fragility of the relationship between Tristan and Susannah: A-3, just before A-12 and A-17 and finally H-2.
 

L-1) In the prologue, old "One Stab" evokes the past through letters written by each character. A shot shows the ranch at night. (Legends Of The Fall Extended Version 5:55-6:20)
L-2) Old "One Stab" tells of the Colonel’s discomfort, the hardships of old age, the seasons passing without news of Tristan and the legends about him that reach the ranch. (The Changing Seasons, Wild Horses, Tristan's Return 0:00-1:31)
 
The theme consists of eight nostalgic notes which symbolize the passing of time told by "One Stab", the narrator of the story. In the prologue, its appearance is very short (L-1) yet later its unfolds over the course of ninety seconds, commenting on Tristan’s absence (L-2). Here, James Horner seems to aim for purity in the strings, giving them a timelessness that we also discussed when describing the F theme.
 
Conclusion
 
In the four-part Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung), Richard Wagner endows each character (including the Ring) with an autonomous musical theme whose variations follow each character’s psychological arc: it is the famous "leitmotiv".
In Legends Of The Fall and in other scores, James Horner did not strictly adhere to the leitmotif approach: only Tristan gets his own theme (A). While other themes superficially seem to be related to individual characters, other connections exist which tend to point to concepts, or to the general emotional context of scenes. For example, the theme that appears to be Susannah’s is actually the theme of happiness because it speaks to the joy she brought to the family at the start of the film. The theme that appears to be Samuel’s ultimately stands the soul of the entire family… The composer often explained that he first tries to capture the spirit of the scene, its colors, and emotions before he thinks in terms of themes and melodies.
To analyze a rich and impressive score such as Legends Of The Fall only through the lens of its themes is undoubtedly to sell it short. However, this analysis has allowed us to highlight surprising connections between scores, with meaningful reprises of themes from A Far Off Place or Patriot Games. It has also allowed us to show how important orchestrations are in terms of giving themes a multitude of colors and meanings. This monumental score definitely benefits from repeated listening and careful analysis.
James Horner said he entered the Hollywood tradition with Cocoon and An American Tail. This score helped build the legend that is his legacy.
 
In addition, so that you can find the themes and their corresponding events on the album, we list for you their appearances following the tracks of Intrada’s two-disc edition.
Just go to our Patreon page by clicking on this link.

 

 
Huge thanks to Roger Feigelson, Kjell Neckebroeck, Javier Burgos Gasco and Nick Martin
 

 

Music, video and image credit: © TriStar / Sony Pictures / Movieclips

 

This post is also available in: French

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