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For Greater Glory: The True Story Of Cristiada by James Horner (Review)

posted Oct 16, 2012, 9:53 PM by Kaya Savas

For Greater Glory is a tale that takes place during the Cristero War; when the Mexican government began cracking down on religion only to have the Catholic faithful fight back in rebellion. I am an atheist firstly and this film is very pro-Catholic. It takes many liberties and makes the whole ordeal very melodramatic. Was the government approach overly aggressive and unnecessary? Yes but I'm not here to get into my hatred of organized religion and the fact that this film is sort of like propaganda so let's get down to James Horner's score. The music here is immensely rich and very much in James Horner's style. The biggest strength of the score is how much narrative Horner has built into the music. This is a massive score with an epic and romantic flow to it.

James Horner critics will continue to criticize no matter what, and this score will give them further reason to. Within the first track we are already introduced to his infamous "danger motif". It rings loud and clear and acts as a foreshadowing device of the tragedy to come. It will make several appearances throughout the score as well. Horner then goes through the motions as he usually does with this type of material. The score is very much on par with what he did in Black Gold. I absolutely loved Black Gold and this matches the emotional flow of that score. If you take a moment to analyze this score from afar you will notice that it's pretty identical to almost any score he's ever done. In that respect it does not feel like it was composed for any specific movie. I'm all for a composer to be an auteur, but I really felt like I was listening to Troy and Avatar at times. As much as I love this score and all that it does dramatically I feel like it needed a stronger solo identity. It's still possible for a composer to sound like his/herself while creating a unique sounding soundscape. Horner fails to do that here, but if you can forgive that and see everything the score does right then you will enjoy it immensely. The extremely long track times allow the music to saturate and build impressive arcs. The score is grand and it will wash over you with an emotional blanket. By the time we get to the end we are stuck in a bit of melodrama as the score becomes a bit too big for its own sake. It feels like it's trying too hard at times and in those instances it took me out of it.

This is an impressive score and Horner handles the scope in grand fashion. I've always been a fan of Horner and his style. I loved Avatar, Titanic, Apollo 13, The Perfect Storm, Glory, The New World and so many more. This really is the first James Horner score where I felt his own style suffocated the music. I am a "danger motif" lover, and I love when he uses it. However, for some reason I felt like here it was overused and drowned the music from having a real identity. The score is not bad by any means. There are some great moments of beauty here and it's a tremendous accomplishment. The melodrama hurts it a bit, and by being too big it loses the emotional grasp it initially had on me. There is a way to tell a story like this and one only needs to look at The Mission. That is a film that brings me to my knees, yes, even my disbelieving atheist knees. The score, the characters, the story and everything about The Mission is perfect. For Greater Glory feels like it has some sort of agenda behind it that I feel seeped into the score a bit, and that left a sour taste in my mouth.