‘Amistad – Press Release’ (1997)

Amistad is the 15th collaboration for composer / conductor John Williams and director Steven Spielberg
Los Angeles, December 2, 1997:

“When you’re working on a big movie like this, you can go for inspiration really what you see on the screen,” says composer John Williams’s new movie directed by Steven Spielberg’s Amistad. It is the 15th film by Spielberg to music by five times winner of the Academy, which won three Oscars for his Schindler’s List (1993), ET: The Extra Terrestrial (1982) and Jaws (1975), Spielberg.

Amistad – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Dreamworks Records), will be launched on December 9, 1997, was written, directed and produced by Williams. In the notes for the disc, Spielberg said: “John never failed to surprise me, rise or make me look good.”

What may surprise listeners, Williams notes, “was the opportunity for vocal music in this project. The score for Amistad is still vastly instrumental, but vocal performances are more important, frequent and efficient than has been the biggest part of my work for cinema. ”

Perhaps the most special vocal selection is the song “Dry Your Tears, Afrika”, with the participation of mezzo-soprano Pamela Dillard, Williams chose from among dozens of candidates. As for the lyrics of the song, she came to Williams when he was beginning to compose music for Amistad in July 1997. A scholar friend had seen a book of poetry from East Africa in the library of Harvard University, and showed it to Williams, who was caught by the power of the poem by Bernard Dadie 1967, “Dry Your Tears, Afrika!”. The verses were written in English, but it was imperative that the song was sung in Mende, one of the indigenous languages ​​of Sierra Leone, land of many of the African characters in Amistad. “Someone in the Sierra Leone Embassy in Washington has resulted in this,” Williams explains. “After all that we have found that Dadie alive – he has 81 years of age. I hope he gets so excited as I am with the song.”

Amistad, a Dreamworks Pictures presentation in association with HBO Pictures’ premiere in New York and Los Angeles December 10, 1997 and will be released nationally on December 12. It is the true story of 53 African captives in 1839, took over in the Spanish slave ship “La Amistad” with the hope of returning to their homeland. Instead they are captured by the U.S. Navy and charged with murder and piracy. His case eventually reached the Supreme Court, where former President John Quincy Adams fight for their cause.

“Africans show dignity and determination, and there is the beauty of their memories of home. But his American experience is a difficult exam,” Williams says. “Musically there are rhythms of African drums and music on the other side of the principle of the American century. XIX, which has its origins in the Quakers, as was the abolitionist movement. The music will run to highlight the aspects of this ennobling and heroic fight. ”

This type of insight helped Williams to become one of the winners but composers in film history. He won 17 Grammy Awards, having been nominated 32 times. In addition to his Oscars for Schindler’s List, ET The Extra-Terrestrial Jaws and he received the statuette for best original score with Star Wars (1977) and Fiddler on the Roof (1971). He was nominated for a total of 34 Academy Awards. These approvals acknowledged their score for Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the three Indiana Jones movies of the series, and the trio of Star Wars films, as well as JFK, Nixon, Born on the Fourth of July, Superman, Home Alone and many others. The most recent score was for Williams Seven Years in Tibet by Jean-Jacques Annaud and is currently working on two new drama set in World War II, Saving Private Ryan, Spielberg. “