"It's logical" is a series of articles about the logical construction, coherence, visual, narrative, symbolic and emotional dimensions of the many and significant allusions and quotes that James Horner always peppered his work with.

Beyond the partial reprisal of the piano melody from Casper (1995), a melancholy interpretation of childhood lost, The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008) presents a theme of flight. Its first appearance occurs in the middle of the film, and at 3'22 into The Flight of the Griffin, scoring a fantastical creature (half-eagle, half-lion) which travels between the realms of reality and imagination.

A bridge of sorts between the earth and the sky, this theme makes its final appearance at 4'46 into Coming Home to wrap up the proceedings with a touching comment on a father and a daughter who have been separated for 80 years but now take off together into the skies, ready to make up for lost time. The theme speaks to their eternal spiritual reunion in a world beyond time.
Coming Home – The Spiderwick Chronicles – Original Soundtrack by James Horner
© 2008 PARAMOUNT PICTURES, under license to Lakeshore Records LKS 339802

During the first two minutes of the Closing Credits, the composer leaves room for his theme to flourish and to blossom (1'43-2'20) – it’s almost like an impressionist’s version of color gradient. The music triggers our imagination and our memories by opening a window to the imperceptible heavens: infinite time and space, the past lost forever. And then it’s back to the melancholy piano…
The flight theme returns in the last part of Write Your Soul (2010), a three-part piece renamed Flight for its 2014 world premiere in Los Angeles. The furious opening fanfare is stated three times, each acting as a new boost propelling the music into the heavens.
Quite logically, we find the The Spiderwick Chronicles theme at the start of the last part (8'28), as it illustrates the final stage of the climb, the highlight of the trip. The music is airy, light and serene, as if suspended in the air. It symbolizes the peace of heaven, where our mind is laid to rest after several minutes of ascent and twirling aerobatics.
Flight – Music by James Horner
© 2010 Air Show Buzz

In those few magical seconds, James Horner captures the spiritual dimension of the act of flying: to get lost high in the sky but also to find one’s self freed from the constraints of earth and its many attractions. The goal is not simply the feat of getting there but also the search for one’s self. It’s all gone: technology, engines, airplane. Nothing remains but mind and sky, which under the composer’s baton become a welcoming home. As if flying was catching a glimpse of paradise.
Standing on the shoulders of its appearance in these two projects, the theme takes on a new dimension in For Greater Glory (2012). Now bumped up to the forefront of the thematic interplay, it grabs the listener’s attention with its emotional power. Whatever the religious and historical context, at its heart the story is about characters in full spiritual awakening struggling to find freedom.

Indeed, they all undergo a profound inner transformation, and it’s all summed up musically by the upward-moving flight theme. Since the theme now assumes a metaphorical meaning, it reaches a certain maturity and its three-part structure always takes us higher and further.
"Men Will Fire Bullets, But God Decides Where They Land"For Greater Glory: The True Story Of Cristiada – Original Soundtrack by James Horner
© 2012 Dos Corazones Films – NewLand Films, under license to Varèse Sarabande UPC: 30206716320
The theme enables James Horner to partake in the characters’ spiritual awakenings and in doing so, he puts forward a strong concept: wealth is not about appearances, material goods or a utopian financial growth aimed at individual freedom, no, wealth is about the development of the mind. To live is to educate one’s self and to understand what surrounds us. For some, it is about believing in some kind of deity, but in the end it's mostly about believing in one’s self, trying to achieve a true and authentic mind. Write Your Soul …
When we met in Liverpool in 2014, James Horner told me about the satisfaction he derived from joining his two passions, music and aviation, on projects such as Flight (2010), First in Flight (2011) or Living in the Age of the Airplanes (2014). So I discussed with him the last part of Flight, the flight theme of The Spiderwick Chronicles and the theme of For Greater Glory asking him if these themes were linked in any logical way by the notion of ascension and spiritual awakening. As usual, his answer was clear and simple: "Yes, it's logical."

Photo credits:
The Spiderwick Chronicles: © Paramount Pictures
Write Your Soul: © Air Show Buzz
For Greater Glory: © Dos Corazones Films – NewLand Films



  1. I think it’s wonderful that so many other composers have adopted the flying theme into their own scores. I’ve noticed it in Beltrami’s ‘The Giver,’ Max Richter’s ‘The Congress,’ Lockington’s ‘Thalia’s Story,’ and of course James Newton Howard’s ‘Maleficent.’ It seems to have taken on a life of its own.

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