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  • Stefan Riedlinger

Casper - James Horner - Soundtrack Review

Casper - James Horner

Because of the death of James Horner, I decided to review another soundtrack by him on my website.

The movie

“Casper” (1995) is a family comedy ghost movie, directed by Brad Silberling. The movie is based on the Harvey character “Casper the Friendly Ghost” and stars Christina Ricci and Bill Pullman. The bad guys are played by Cathy Moriarty and Eric Idle.

Ricci plays Kat, daughter of Dr. Harvey (Pullman) who is heading to an old house that is haunted by ghosts. Harvey's job is to get these ghosts out of the house, so they can cross over to the other side. That is what he thinks, but the real reason is that Moriarty and Idle want to have the treasure which is said to be hidden in the house. Soon Kat meets a teenager ghost named Casper who falls in love with Kat. His one wish is to be human again and maybe he can win the girl. I do not want to say more about the movie, so people who did not watch it, can still enjoy it. Here is the trailer:

The music

When I saw “Casper” 1995, I was really not the teenage target group with my age at that time, but what can I say: I always liked to see Christina Ricci, I really enjoy seeing ghost movies, and James Horner wrote the music for this movie, so I decided to watch it in the movie theatre, and had a great time. Okay, the final scenes are sometimes are little crap and also a little too sentimental, but the movie is still highly enjoyable. Some cameo appearance by Clint Eastwood and Dan Akroyd (track 5 “March Of The Exorchists”) are really funny.

“Casper” is Horner at his best. This movie provided him with a lot of opportunities to use his skills in composing highly enjoyable music and playing with the orchestra to its fullest. I found a clip about James Horner composing the music:

The first track “No Sign Of Ghosts” is already one of the highlights of the score. Horner creates with the strings from the beginning a haunting but also a funny atmosphere without using any electronics. The score nails perfect balance between creepy and funny. I really like how Horner uses the different sections of the orchestra, e.g. by introducing the beautiful love theme played on the piano. This first track has a great dramaturgic structure, and I love especially the different percussion instruments Horner is used on this first track.

The second track “Carrigan & Dibs” features heavily on the theme for of our bad couple. Track four “First Haunting / The Swordword” underscores the first confrontation of Pullman and Casper’s ghost uncles. This track is great fun, has a “shocking” moment at the beginning and then reminds us during the fight of Errol Flynn’s swashbuckler movies and Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s music.

Most of the tracks are more lyrical than the first one, and that is the reason I highly enjoyed this track.

One highlight of the quieter parts of this soundtrack is track 6 “The Ligthouse / Casper & Kat”, another wonderful interpretation of the love theme for Casper and Kat.

Track 10 “Casper’s Lullaby” is for me the highlight of this soundtrack. Horner had such a great ability to write these kind of lovely and sentimentally tracks. This one gives us another wonderful interpretation of the love theme, played on piano and strings, before Horner ends this piece with a wonderful solo on the violins. This nearly six minute track is for sure one of the best tracks Horner ever composed. Here is the music:

Great fun is also the next track “Descent to Lazarus”, a 10 minute piece of music. I do not want to talk about this and the next track because I would have to talk too much about the movie, and I do not want to be a spoil sport. You can skip the next two songs and listen to the end credits called “The Uncles Wing / End Credits”. Horner starts this track with a great jazzy part, and you will really think that it is sad that he did not compose more jazzy swing scores. After this jazz part, the orchestra opens up, and you can hear again all the lovely themes of the movie.

These kind of tracks are timeless, and it seems that only Horner was able to compose this kind of music that still sounds fresh after 20 years. Horner used the orchestra in such a great way! Of course, there are similarities to earlier and later soundtracks, but let’s be honest: Who cares?, when you have such a great track that is over six minutes long and just fun!

You can find some of the scenes of the movies on YouTube, but I highly recommend you to see the movie from the beginning. It is classical family entertainment and will be also for your kids pure fun.

Copyright © Stefan Riedlinger, 2015, all rights reserved. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Stefan Riedlinger.

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