Second part of the thematic exploration of Willow, by James Horner.
“Nelwyn Theme.” First heard at 5:55 of Elora Danan upon the introduction of Willow and his children, this descending figure brings a sense of light and innocence to the rural setting of the Nelwyn village. When it later comes back (such as at 8:03 of Bavmorda’s Spell Is Cast), it conjures up memories of this simple farmer’s life. Its B-part is almost as stirring as Elora Danan’s theme, and it can be heard by itself at 3:28 of Bavmorda’s Spell Is Cast. Interesting and often subtle minor-key variations of this theme exist, such as 7:38 of Elora Danan and 5:05 of Willow’s Journey Begins.
“Burglekutt’s Theme.” A pompous, bumbling theme for the heartless businessman of the Nelwyns. Combining cruelty and ridicule in the same melody is no easy task, but this theme does it with aplomb. It first comes at 7:02 of Elora Danan and later at 2:09 of Willow’s Journey Begins.
“Nelwyn Festival.” This wonderful piece of folk music is heard during the faire at the Nelwyn village. If that were its only occurrence, it might not constitute as one of the movie’s official themes, but it happens to kick off the end credits as well (at 5:53 of Willow the Sorcerer).
“Heroic Theme.” Attributed to Willow on the CD, but linked more commonly to Madmartigan in the movie, this is the score’s other famous theme. Derived masterfully from a theme of Schumann’s 3rd symphony, this is fantasy heroism at its finest. One of its best iterations is at 6:34 of Tir Asleen. Very versatile, it can exist as a fully realized theme or be as short as its first four notes. It can switch from major key to minor, changing from heroism to peril. There’s even a comedic variation when Madmartigan pleads for his freedom (an unreleased track happening at 33:53 of the movie), which, incidentally, marks the very first appearance of the theme.
“Brownies Theme.” Heralded by a pastiche of military fanfare, this wild and bouncy theme does not appear anywhere on the soundtrack CD. It is first heard at 36:24 of the movie, upon the introduction of the diminutive Franjean and several times in the lengthy sequence that follows.
“Love Theme.” This theme makes its first many appearances in Escape from the Tavern, the first one being at 0:47. Its use here is relatively incidental since the character of Sorsha does not appear in this scene, while the movie later teaches us to associate this theme to the romance between her and Madmartigan. It is not a long-lined Williamesque love theme in the tradition of Star Wars and Indiana Jones, but rather a short and sweet idea to hint at burgeoning feelings. Its most complete iteration appears at 3:35 of Canyon of Mazes. Just before that, at 2:26, a heartbreaking minor key variation appears.
“Daring Motif.” This little rising fanfare underlines moments of bravery. First heard at 1:06 of Escape from the Tavern, it makes most of its appearances in the unreleased track “Snow Camp” (such as 1:07:40 of the movie, and again at 1:09:12 and 1:10:35), which might explains why it is so often overlooked as a theme. Another instance exists at 6:21 of Canyon of Mazes. A noteworthy variation can be heard at 8:39 of Tir Asleen.
Given the wealth of thematic material in this score and how often unreleased music has to be invoked to draw a proper canvas, it should go without saying that the release of an expanded edition is long overdue.