Braveheart: 20th Anniversary
2-CD Limited Edition SoundtrackLa-La Land Records, 2015
My work on this newly-expanded edition of composer James Horner’s Oscar-nominated score to Mel Gibson’s Braveheart began in the early months of 2015. In those first weeks after a title is assigned, often the liner notes have yet to be completed and approved so my role is primarily one of hunter-gatherer. Slowly and surely, file by file, I begin to build an archive of promotional photos, behind-the-scenes stills, and original marketing materials. Most of these are provided by the studios (Paramount and 20th Century Fox had split domestic and international distribution duties for the Icon production), but I also try to grab whatever I can find online—and elsewhere—as the quality of scans for such pre-digital titles tends to vary, sometimes wildly, and I may find myself later needing a piece of one scan to cover a defect in another.
If it’s a title I’ve seen recently, I prefer to watch the films before design on the liner notes begins. This is an important step, partly to make sure I’ve got the right sequence of images and characters to reflect the film, but also to try and listen for the composer’s music as heard in the film. I can’t recall exactly, but it was sometime in May or maybe even early June when I sat down to watch Braveheart for the first time in many years. So it was only a few weeks later when the news that James Horner had died in a plane crash lit up the net.
While Mr. Horner had given his blessing to the project months earlier, the majority of work remaining on the 2-CD set proceeded in the shadow of his untimely death. The final album was later dedicated to his memory upon release and included messages from Horner's longtime music editor Jim Henrikson as well as Braveheart's producer, director, and star, Mel Gibson.
As some of the music from Braveheart had been released previously—if incompletely, split over two volumes and with some film dialogue mixed into the tracks—the question of cover imagery for this new edition was key. There was early talk of using the international poster artwork (which featured portraits of actors Mel Gibson and Sophie Marceau looming large over a fisheye distortion of the clashing armies), but this proved impossible to locate. I suspect those large heads wouldn't have worked in the more confining shape of a CD cover anyway.
That left the two, highly similar American posters. Paramount was able to provide us the keyart used on the second poster, the final theatrical one-sheet (shown middle ab). Of the two, I was more drawn to the advance teaser poster (far left), which was darker, moodier, and, importantly, had less of the collage elements behind the central image of Mel Gibson).
Working with the keyart from that second poster, I was able to match the darker, more atmospheric look of the main figure, cutting him out and then creating a soft, fiery background in the style of that original teaser poster, and this became the image used on the final cover design.
The title treatment used on the cover design is a slightly larger and more closely spaced version of the one used on the original theatrical posters. (See examples below.)
Finally, an alternate cover was designed, using a new title treatment inspired by the film's opening credits (shown in the screen capture shown above). In the end, the original poster title treatment was deemed a stronger representation of the film.
This two-disc, 20th anniversary collection of James Horner’s music to the 1995 historical epic Braveheart was released as a limited edition of 3000 units. However, it may still be available to purchase at http://lalalandrecords.com/Site/BraveHeart.html.