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Specific shots & short musical ideas where Williams nailed the score

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My musical analysis skills aren’t advanced enough to offer any examples, but I enjoyed reading your take on that short segment. It reminds us (as if it weren’t already plain to see) that JW is the consummate craftsman.

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Too many to name, probably, but one that always struck me was tracking shot at the opening of SAVING PRIVATE RYAN.  When the first cross comes into frame, Williams scores it with a subtle snare roll.  Appropriate and moving.

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I always loved this bizarre transition from outright horror scoring (those trumpets!) to something seemingly beautiful, as Dieter's blood flows down the river in TLW (all the while being torn apart by the compys off-screen). Such inspired scoring I doubt other composers would have even considered.

 

Those two films were really a huge sandpit for Williams to play in, and he seriously delivered. All the references to other composers were really the signpost that he knew exactly the type of film he was scoring.

 

 

 

 

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There are so many scenes I could choose from. This underwater scene from Phantom Menace is one. I love the underwater music next to the visuals of them leaving the city, and the way it descends as their vehicle dives deeper underwater. Then it swells after the big fish starts following them, and becomes almost chaotic once the fish catches them. I could go on but you can just watch the scene. 

 

 

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2 hours ago, crumbs said:

I always loved this bizarre transition from outright horror scoring (those trumpets!) to something seemingly beautiful, as Dieter's blood flows down the river in TLW (all the while being torn apart by the compys off-screen). Such inspired scoring I doubt other composers would have even considered.

 

 

 

 

 

I always saw that moment in the strings as a kind of sigh, almost, like Dieter's life is released. Even in a film like this, I think Williams has a certain philosophical and perhaps empathetic side that compels him to score things such as death in a very compassionate and "real" way (see the bitter music in "Wade's Death" the following year).

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1 hour ago, Nick Parker said:

 

I always saw that moment in the strings as a kind of sigh, almost, like Dieter's life is released. Even in a film like this, I think Williams has a certain philosophical and perhaps empathetic side that compels him to score things such as death in a very compassionate and "real" way (see the bitter music in "Wade's Death" the following year).

 

Interesting interpretation. I'd never read into it that deeply, but it's a compelling explanation of his intentions there (in an otherwise horrific and brutal scene).

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I always thought that Jedi Fury is a genius piece to accompany Luke's attack on Vader. But the chorus seems a bit of a weird choice. The voices singing do not resemble Luke's.

Here is my reasoning:

1. I assume that the reason for the Force Theme in "Use the Force" moment in ANH playing in such a divine way on the high strings is that it is Ben's Theme, and Ben returns as a guardian angel -> cue a wide shot of X-wing moving sideways in a way that makes Vader say "the Force is stronge in this one", which I assumed was an "angel's wings" moment. An additional strength of this interpretation is that it creates a finale to the direct arc of enmity between Ben and Vader, as interpreted from what they had to say about each other in the film. "I will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine" gets lost when the interpretation is that the force theme "belongs" to Luke. Ben's phrasing becomes much more badass when it is him who stops Vader from killing Luke for a moment without Vader even realizing the source of this power "than you can possibly imagine". Great, great moment.

2. With that said, and a mind open to a more oldschool storytelling, let's take a Luke at Jedi Fury. The voices might symbolize the Jedi in general making a comeback, or exercising their revenge, with "Return of the Jedi" interpreted as plural. The voices even sound a bit like ghosts. And then a third interpretation is also possible. Hear how the chorus starts when the camera shows a surprised Vader? Vader proceeds to just dodge hits and defend himself, constantly backing off, despite Luke not showing the best choreography, and makes just 2 weak swings at Luke. It seems to me now that the chorus (singing nearly as low as Vader's own voice) conveys that he has already started to come back from the Dark Side - here the singular "Return of the Jedi" - and cannot fight his son. In a way, this moment in music expresses the ambiguity of the title and foreshadows the title twist, which is Vader turning back to good. 

 

As someone who entered Star Wars fandom with prequel world-building "taken for granted" and the perception of OT scores as an artifact from a long time ago far, far away across the ocean - without having ever witnessed Williams being younger and actually working on these films, I find such "historical" analysis of what he might have been thinking at the time a very exciting thing to do, because it humanizes the composer of the OT in a way :) 

 

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Dark Side Beckons (RotJ)

Yoda lifts the x-wing (ESB)

When Harry Potter wins the quiddich match in HP1

"ouch" moment at the end of E.T.

Visitor at Himmel Street The Book Thief

End of Appearance of the Visitors in CE3K

Bringing them Back in Empire of the Sun

Rescuing Sirius PoA

End of Map Room in Raiders when the light beam goes through the medallion

Main titles Superman when the Superman logo appears

That moment in Jaws when the shark first passes by the Orca (B theme of the Jaws theme with the harps)

Barchiosaurus appear in JP (but movie mix is not that great)

Poseidon Adventure Main Titles

Spacecamp Computer Room

The Spark in Last Jedi

End of Plowing War Horse

Tennis Game Witches of Eastwick

 

 

 

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A lot of good things... but one that stood out to me a lot over the years is "Yoda Strikes Back" from AOTC.  Now grant the music was hacked up in the film but it's still awesome music and nice to hear via clean from the games. 

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16 hours ago, Modest Expectations said:

I always thought that Jedi Fury is a genius piece to accompany Luke's attack on Vader. But the chorus seems a bit of a weird choice. The voices singing do not resemble Luke's.

Here is my reasoning:

1. I assume that the reason for the Force Theme in "Use the Force" moment in ANH playing in such a divine way on the high strings is that it is Ben's Theme, and Ben returns as a guardian angel -> cue a wide shot of X-wing moving sideways in a way that makes Vader say "the Force is stronge in this one", which I assumed was an "angel's wings" moment. An additional strength of this interpretation is that it creates a finale to the direct arc of enmity between Ben and Vader, as interpreted from what they had to say about each other in the film. "I will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine" gets lost when the interpretation is that the force theme "belongs" to Luke. Ben's phrasing becomes much more badass when it is him who stops Vader from killing Luke for a moment without Vader even realizing the source of this power "than you can possibly imagine". Great, great moment.

2. With that said, and a mind open to a more oldschool storytelling, let's take a Luke at Jedi Fury. The voices might symbolize the Jedi in general making a comeback, or exercising their revenge, with "Return of the Jedi" interpreted as plural. The voices even sound a bit like ghosts. And then a third interpretation is also possible. Hear how the chorus starts when the camera shows a surprised Vader? Vader proceeds to just dodge hits and defend himself, constantly backing off, despite Luke not showing the best choreography, and makes just 2 weak swings at Luke. It seems to me now that the chorus (singing nearly as low as Vader's own voice) conveys that he has already started to come back from the Dark Side - here the singular "Return of the Jedi" - and cannot fight his son. In a way, this moment in music expresses the ambiguity of the title and foreshadows the title twist, which is Vader turning back to good. 

 

As someone who entered Star Wars fandom with prequel world-building "taken for granted" and the perception of OT scores as an artifact from a long time ago far, far away across the ocean - without having ever witnessed Williams being younger and actually working on these films, I find such "historical" analysis of what he might have been thinking at the time a very exciting thing to do, because it humanizes the composer of the OT in a way :) 

 

 

My interpretation is very different...the "liturgical" men's choir there strikes me as a very intentional reminder of the Emperor's material, since that timbre is otherwise only heard during his theme. Far from being a triumphant return of the Jedi, this darkly religioso moment is about Luke beginning to succumb to the Dark Side, exactly as the Emperor desires. That piece of scoring - which I agree is absolute genius - provides very important emotional context, making it very clear that while Luke may be winning the duel against Vader, he is (momentarily) losing the battle against the forces of darkness inside himself.

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One of the best is when Indy lowers himself into the map room.

 

 

A reminder none of us need as we'll never forget the time when Spielberg, Lucas and Williams delivered the coolest stuff we'd ever seen or heard.

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10 hours ago, Datameister said:

 

My interpretation is very different...the "liturgical" men's choir there strikes me as a very intentional reminder of the Emperor's material, since that timbre is otherwise only heard during his theme. Far from being a triumphant return of the Jedi, this darkly religioso moment is about Luke beginning to succumb to the Dark Side, exactly as the Emperor desires. That piece of scoring - which I agree is absolute genius - provides very important emotional context, making it very clear that while Luke may be winning the duel against Vader, he is (momentarily) losing the battle against the forces of darkness inside himself.

This is how I see it as well. The moment is beautifully dark and tragic as we watch a son strike down his father. The men's chorus is very much a reminder of the Emperor's role in this duel.

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I find Williams really nails a lot of moments in the Harry Potter and Home Alone films, even though they aren't my favorite scores. It could be that style he writes in fits well with the films. In HP he's able to bring back some of his classic ideas to the more dramatic cuts.

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