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Whispers about "The Horse Whisperer"

Wednesday, 03 February 2010 13:18

Ian Macdonald contributed a fascinating piece to the Barry Yahoo group:

I have just been viewing the 'Filmnotgraphy' section of the website. I note with interest that it is thought that JB wrote and recorded a full score for this movie, so, for what it is worth, I thought I would contribute my knowledge of what actually happened and why Barry left the film.

As some of you may know I was fortunate to attend the last 2 days recording sessions for 'Swept from the Sea' (aka Amy Foster) in march 1997 at Abbey Road.  At the end of the last day JB thanked the ECO for their hard work and announced to them that he would be doing the score to Redford's movie and that he would be working with them in October of that year when the score would probably be recorded.

On JB's return home he worked on some 'demo's recorded them in a small NY studio and arranged to meet Redford.

My information is that there were three themes in all which RR did not like. Evidently he accused Barry of not understanding his film's intentions and trying to make it into a pastiche of Born Free and encouraged Barry to be more dramatic and 'cut the thematic crap'.

JB was evidently and understandably upset at Redford's comments and an intense discussion (being polite) broke out. It ended with Barry sweeping up his work and storming out of the meeting. Evidently from that day to this they have not spoken and both went out of their way to avoid each other when dining at the same NY Restaurant a few weeks later.

As I think is widely known 'Meadow of Delight & Sadness' (from the 'Beyondness' Album) was one of the pieces originally written for this movie. The other 2 pieces I am not sure about, but I have it on good authority - from the man who acted as 'fixer' for his work with the ECO - that Barry DID NOT get to the stage of writing or recording a full score for this film.

I think I am right in saying (please correct me if I am wrong) that this was the only piece from that intended score to reach the 'Beyondness' Album, so maybe, some time in the future the other two will surface....................or maybe they already have in some other form (Playing by Heart, Echoes, Ten Tenors albums?)........who knows?



Prior to Ian's post, there has been a number of stories and theories about what happened to the music. Here's a selection:

Someone was recently asking me about recording sessions for The Horse Whisperer, forgotten whom. Anyway, I asked Nic Raine and he said it wasn't recorded apart from initial demos of the main cues, which is Barry's usual method. But 'Goodbye Lover' apparently was, though it's not entirely clear whether it was rejected or if Barry simply refused to re-score some parts after many changes to the film were made. (N.B. since then Wayne Kramer has confirmed he has heard the full recorded score to Goodbye Lover.)



I do think that sometimes he's his own worst enemy: it was only two years ago when he was scoring The Horse Whisperer, a film that would have put him right back on the map, and probably won him yet another Oscar - and yet, rather than do what he was employed to do, and give the director what he wanted, he stubbornly refused, and hasn't even sniffed a quality project ever since. That they only disagreed over the scoring of one scene, and Barry refused to budge, is such a pity, and really quite stupid when you think about it.



My first question was about the music for "The Horse Whisperer" being used for "TBOT" I asked if this was a rumour could he scotch it or confirm it was true. He said it was true that music was from "THW" and that the music was personal to him. Then, proceeded to damn the film saying that the original novel was superb and that the horse dies at the end in the book but for some strange reason Robert Redford insisted the horse survive. He said the film was mostly made up of shots of Redford from this angle and that angle, smiling now, frowning now, etc. Afterwards his wife said 'Now you know the whole truth' and JB went 'Shh!' and shook my hand.



I think most people on this site do not understand is that John Barry when he accepted the job of writing the score to the Horse Whisperer, John saw the rough cut of the movie, Robert Redford and John Barry talked about where music cues would go. Off John went and 3 to 4 weeks later in "piano" form John played 5 to 6 themes and cues for Robert Redford. Mr. Redford didn't like what he heard cuz he has paper stuck in his ears, and John Barry not compromising his position and off they went into two different direction.

"Samantha's Mom"


I've always thought that 2 or 3 themes from Horse would be the maximum (on TBOT), though apparently at the concert Richard Kraft was indicating to people which tracks were from Horse and it was 3 or 4 of them. Make that 'allegedly' in case Richard is looking in!


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