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Apollo 13 by James Horner

Tracksounds Rating = 9/10

Apollo 13 by James Horner

Composed by James Horner
Orchestrations by James Horner and Steve Bramson
Released by MCA Records 1995

Track Title Time Rating Failure is Not an Option
by Christopher Coleman

Patriotic.  Passionate.  Powerful.  All words which accurately describe James Horner’s score for Ron Howard’s 1995 film, Apollo 13.  This score is simply one of James Horner’s best ever and many film score fans rank it similarly.  With a story so intense and almost incredible, the score for the film could really have  broken it, if not done perfectly.  Ron Howard chose James Horner to fulfill this daunting scoring mission.  For Horner, too, failure was simply not an option.  If the score did not reinforce the right emotion - failure.  If the score crossed the line and ventured into the land of the corny score - critical failure.  Fortunately, as one listens to this score, one hears that Horner was equally successful in his mission. James Horner captures the wide emotional swings from tragedy to triumph  marvelously. 

Horner’s main theme is epic, heroic.  It is first heard in track 1, Main Title, was a solo trumpet plays the memorable theme.  This theme makes brief appearances in a couple of other tracks, but really doesn’t show itself in its full orchestral glory again until track 14, Re-entry and Splashdown and then, finally, in the End Titles (track 15). 

MCA Soundtracks releases a good deal of the score along with 60’s rock and roll cuts and dialogue from the film.  In any case, it is the music of Horner that makes this CD worth having no matter what tags along with it.  Aside from the main theme, Horner score is full of great action/suspense pieces that foreshadowed Titanic and Deep Impact and mysterious vocals.

A few dramatic pieces, the Main Title, The Launch, and Re-Entry & Splashdown,  have been honored in various compilations including:  Varese Sarabande’s Titanic and Other Film Scores of James Horner, Silva’s Titanic:  The Essential James Horner Film Music Collection and Sonic Images’ Heart of the Ocean.  Also, Horner received a double nomination for an Academy Award in 1995 for Apollo 13 and Braveheart (either of which would have been a worthy winner.)  

The experiences of the NASA engineers, the Apollo 13 command crew, and the family of astronaut Jim Lovell are all captured accurately through Horner’s music.  His use of vocals has seldom, if ever, been better.  Annie Lennox’s work in the End Titles is a hauntingly great rendition of one of the major  themes. 

This CD does contain great pieces of the score, but the insertion of these rock and roll hits of the sixties really hurt the overall listening experience.  Much could have been gained by clustering them at the very end of the CD. The dialogue can, at times, serve as a nice setup to the upcoming score track or even one of the rock hits, but at other times can be annoying.

This score obviously inspired David Kneupper's work for the Apollo/ Saturn V Exhibit and who could blame him.  Horner's score, like the story of the Apollo 13 mission, has inspired countless and continues to inspire today.


Main Title


2 One Small Step - dialogue  

Night Train *



Groovin' *


5 Somebody to Love * 2:55 **

I Can See for Miles *



Purple Haze *



All Systems Go - dialogue

9 The Launch 10:04 *****
10 Welcome to Apollo 13 - dialogue  

Spirit in the Sky *


12 House Cleaning/ Houston, We Have a Problem  - dialogue  

Master Alarm 


14 What's Going On? - dialogue  

Into the LEM


16 Out of Time/ Shut Her Down  

Darkside of the Moon


18 Failure is Not an Option - dialogue  
19 Honky Tonkin * 2:42 *

Blue Moon *


21 Waiting for Disaster/
 A Privilege -
22 Re-Entry and Splashdown 8:53 *****
23 End Titles 6:59 *****
  Total Playing Time 72:09    

* - sixties pop song



Film Continuity 10  
Originality 10  
CD Length 9  
Track Order 5  
Performance 10  
Final Score 9  

Other reviews:

One of Horner's masterpieces from 1995. The music for Ron Howard's movie Apollo 13 is patriotic. Horner uses a choir, snare drum and a lot of brass, but it never gets too much of the patriotic sound and mood...This is without doubt one of Horner's best pieces ever. *****

Andreas Lindahl - The James Horner Web Site

James Horner

Apollo 13 by James Horner
Apollo 13 is both a classic film and score. Like Glory and Legends of the Fall before it, Apollo 13 captured the attention of many casual movie-goers at the time of the film's release, and I can never show the film to a friend without having them mention the score. I personally own all of the versions of the music on CD, and I'm not letting go of any of them. They are refreshing to listen to at any time, whether I'm interested in just the overall mood of the music, or want to marvel at the masterful mechanics of each and every cue. It's among my top ten of the 1990s. *****

Christian Clemmensen - Filmtracks

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All artwork from Apollo 13 is exclusive property of MCA Records (c) 1995.  Its appearance is for informational purposes only.