Jump to content


  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won


AIFan last won the day on September 6 2013

AIFan had the most liked content!


  • Location
    West Coast US
  1. Hello, Mostly lurking as of late, but to reply to the above question, I can confirm that the Oregon Symphony will be doing the GOF Live-to-Projection this coming season (can't recall if it will occur in Fall 2019 or Winter 2020). I've got my ticket and am ready...even if it's not my favorite maestro on this one. Perhaps the best of the non-Williams scores? It's been a while since I've heard them all, but perhaps I'll do that soon. AIFan
  2. Hi all, Per Richard's earlier assertion that the opening to TOD is only a fantasy in Willie's mind (or was that a joke?), can I get confirmation that Spielberg is the source on that? The movie's been out for nearly 35 years and I had never heard that before! If so, it's the most vivid and substantial dream I've ever witnessed, as even Dr. Jones and the nefarious operatives around him seem to notice it's going on as well... Perhaps I just didn't get the joke? It's possible... AIFan
  3. What I truly admire about the film is that it defies the typical love story tropes, and yet the connection between the characters played by Dreyfus and Hunter was definitely there. In my opinion, it was able to transcend the touchy-feely part of love stories (often ham-handedly told) precisely because one of the lovers was a non-corporeal being, and so the audience and the screenwriter were left to tell a love story purely through dialogue and body language. Pardon the ghost-related pun, but that part of it was truly "touching." AIFan
  4. Here are mine: 10. Ant-Man 9. Unbreakable 8. Avengers: Infinity War 7. Batman (1989) 6. Captain America: The First Avenger 5. X-Men: Days of Future Past 4. Deadpool 3. Spider-Man 2 2. Superman (1978) 1. The Dark Knight AIFan
  5. Hi JJA, Here's my ranking, based on my best recollection of the pre-Special Edition of the Original Trilogy. Please also note that I did not have any of the LPs of the OT OSTs, but as long as the Polydor audio cassette versions were the same, content-wise (which I believe they were), then I think the rankings should be accurate and an apples-to-apples comparison. I'm also assuming (because of those you included) that the standalones are not included? Those caveats included, here are my rankings: 8. The Attack of the Clones (2002): Trying not to drag my general hatred of what this film did to cause my dyspepsia for the series overall that was finally cleansed in 2015, the content of the album because it represented the content heard in the film (that is, the OST is a fair representation of what was heard on-screen, so that wasn't an issue), the music is either hopelessly fruitless meandering, painful Mickey-Mousing, or bombastic action cues that were relatively incoherent. Positives (there are some) include: Across the Stars (I still occasionally hum that one), The Conveyor Belt (that saved the album for me, and it's inexplicable as to why this wasn't included in the album outside of the Target offering), and bits and pieces of the Jango Fett escape through the asteroid belt (I believe featured in either Jango's Escape or Bounty Hunter's Pursuit). Other than those items, this is largely a painful reminder of what was an apparently uninspired effort by the Maestro (his four other albums that year -- Catch Me if You Can, Minority Report, and overseeing the E.T. 20th Anniversary Remaster and involvement in Chamber of Secrets -- were better and easily more memorable). 7. The Revenge of the Sith (2005): The content of both the music in the movie as well as the OST were a step up from AOTC, to be sure, but my main problem was that so much of the music on the OST varies markedly in the mix, of which I've heard many complaints. Specifically, Padme's Ruminations and Palpatine's Teachings are so frustratingly quiet (due to writing in the low registers in the winds and strings), so much so that I can only catch the subtleties if I listen with headphones). I know you weren't talking about the sound quality of the OSTs specifically, but that has always been an annoyance specifically on this album. In addition, even when hearing the detail on those tracks, there's not much there, substance-wise. The only two highlights on the album are Battle of the Heroes (which doesn't exactly knock my socks off, though), and The Birth of the Twins and Padme's Destiny (at least the track title was vague enough to avoid spoilers!). Since it is part of the packaging of the OST, I'll mention that the included DVD for this soundtrack represented the only time that a SW soundtrack was given the kind of respect that much lesser franchises (Nolan's Batman trilogy and LOTR, specifically) have been given, in terms of extras. Just seeing Mr. McDiarmid out of those ridiculous robes (either the senatorial robes or the Emperor's robes) was worth the price of the CD/DVD combo! 6. The Phantom Menace (1999): While there was far too much Mickey-Mousing and meandering going on here as well, there is less of it than the filler that permeated Episode Two's OST, and the OST presentation is more coherent than either that in Episodes Two or Three. I am referring here even to the OST only, not the 2000 Ultimate Edition release (though I don't have nearly the issues with that release as some others apparently do). The music is a good representation of what is seen in the movie, is better explained by the track titles than the episodes already mentioned, and is in general(?) chronological order. Also, the volume is fine, not requiring manual intervention in volume controls during playback (yes, parts of Duel of the Fates are too quietly recorded, but given there is kind of an echo effect intended in the flow of the music, that actually makes sense). 5. Return of the Jedi (1983): The organization, brevity, and glaring omissions of good music in this soundtrack make it a very incomplete representation of the music in the movie itself. I remember picking up this Polydor cassette at the local Suncoast in the late 80s or early 90s, popping it into my home boom box(!), and being something much less than captivated by the quick run from start to finish. The quality of the music (not the recording) that actually did make it to the album was decent (The Sail Barge Assault and Parade of the Ewoks were highlights, and let's not forget the pre-Yanni Yub-Nub ending), and so that makes it better than any of the prequel OSTs automatically. Much of the short-changed content was corrected in the 1993 box set, but the sound quality for ROTJ was still awful (ultimately cleaned up in the Special Edition release). 4. The Last Jedi (2017): My recollection is that the music on the OST was a good representation of what was seen and heard in the movie, though I keep getting mixed up between the OST and the FYC version. Though I've since heard some complaints about what was ultimately not on the OST that was in the movie, I did get the digital score-only version of the move, and I can't say I really think anything of significance was missed. Given the representation was good, then, the only reason it falls here in the middle of the pack is because the music itself is not as compelling and refreshingly new than that heard in the movies in the slots above this one. 3. The Force Awakens (2015): What was really nice about this one was that it included some concert hall editions of the featured music (which had been missing not only from Star Wars albums for quite some time, but it seems the Maestro himself has been leaving those for concert hall performances and not so much for albums these days). I think that Rey's Theme and The Jedi Steps are highlights along those lines (though Jedi Steps is merged with the End Credits),. but I would also include The Falcon among them. Also, the action music is a kind of cleaned-up version of its various counterparts in the film version, reminiscent of the OST to The Lost World and sections of the OST for Minority Report. IMO, the even more developed concert versions of TFA (featured in the Lockhart / Boston Pops album since released) are even better, but we're just talking about OSTs here... 2. The Empire Strikes Back (1980): A great album to a great film, with my only real complaint being the non-chronological order as arranged on the soundtrack, and some minor quibbles about the music that was omitted, especially after I heard the Special Edition version in 1997. Nevertheless, I pretty much destroyed the audio cassette of this due to repeated plays, and who can blame me? Given I no longer have easy access to the tape packaging (it's stored somewhere, I'm sure), I can't remember the name of the track featuring what I would call Boba Fett's theme, but it was awesome, and the End Credits were included in their totality, luckily, so it is nearly perfect in all of the inclusions. Also, the concert versions of Yoda's Theme, The Imperial March, and The Asteroid Chase are unequaled in any Star Wars album. 1. A New Hope (1977): Formerly just Star Wars, this OST is probably the best representation of the film to which it belongs, and captures the essence of the myriad of themes introduced in the film. The chase music (those tracks including the chasm crossfire and the TIE fighter pursuit) is almost in concert version already (Here They Come! did not need to be adapted all that much from how it appeared in the film), and Princess Leia's Theme continues to grow on me after all these years (still great as an encore these days). Possibly one of the best OSTs ever made, based on the truest definition and purpose of the genre. I hope you enjoyed this little analysis and my contribution to all the lists on this website of late! -AI Fan
  6. Hi all, Yes, that one you posted, Jason, is a great cue, and it will be fantastic to hear it in its isolated glory! I am very much looking forward to this release -- it was one I hoped for after the announcement for the 90th anniversary of Warner Brothers studio. My only regret is that it will apparently not have the "ribbon" design given to the Matrix Reloaded and Wyatt Earp releases! Best wishes, AIFan
  7. Hi all, It looks like I've seen 59 of the AFI list, and 10 of the BFI list. I thought the differences were quite interesting. The Europeans, it seems, are pretty taken with Alfred Hitchcock, though I consider Psycho and possibly North by Northwest better than Vertigo. I'll have to watch Vertigo, or possibly all three again, just to make sure. Some other observations: -As was pointed out by other posters, I think what is being seen is that the poll's different contributors each time this comes around means that the slate is cleared again and that the demographics tend to skew toward a later time period. That's definitely reflected by some of the newer films on the list. If the old results were grandfathered in, perhaps some of the classics would have stayed on there, but I don't see any major disagreements, at least as far as I can tell. There are some surprises, such as the inclusion of The Sixth Sense and the exclusion of films like Memento and Mulholland Dr., which I'm sure will be added as the younger generation makes up a larger percentage of the contributors. -I realized that I really need to see Singin' in the Rain and The Searchers. They keep showing up on these lists! -The BFI list ranks Apocalypse Now higher than The Godfather, looking at films done by Francis Ford Coppola. I know the general consensus is that Apocalypse Now is a great film (I think it's somewhat of a mess, but features brilliant cinematography and performances, especially by Duvall and Brando), but how many would rank it higher than The Godfather (or GFII, for that matter)? The AFI list has The Godfather above Apocalypse Now above The Godfather Part II. I would rank them: GFII, GFI, then AN. Anyway, this was a good topic, reminding me of how many films I'd still like to see... AIFan
  8. Interestingly, I had just recently pulled these up on my Ipod and played them in chronological order, though I'm not sure listening to them out of their release order really would have made much of a difference. I ended up voting, in this poll, for The Adventures of Tintin, because ultimately it was the most refreshing for me, and it provides the most original material in quite some time from the Maestro. I would consider Lincoln and War Horse in a close tie for second, because they each have their own advantages working for them, and they each have great cues to recommend them. Lincoln is outstanding Americana, in addition to having on display a lot of its folk roots. War Horse shows an incredible mastery of Vaughn Williamsesque and other English sources, and evoked much of what was great about Jane Eyre's score as well. The Book Thief would probably end up in fourth, because, while it does have some great themes, it relies on them a little too much, and certainly evokes Presumed Innocent and Stepmom, along with some other ealier scores. While I have a great amount of appreciation for those scores, and for Williams' more personal scores in general, I find that it just lacks the creativity to sustain my interest throughout the entirety of the score. Going back to Tintin, I felt it was inspired writing from Mr. Williams based on some inspired filmmaking by Spielberg. It was the first score since the first Harry Potter movie (well, perhaps since Prisoner of Azkaban) where I felt that Williams wrote a greatly inspired score that allowed a full pallette: action, drama, jazz, and thrilling cliffhanger music. (Also, as a bassoonist, I enjoyed the liberal use of contrabassoon in the score, only really heard in its full glory when wearing earphones!) Overall, while the other scores reach lofty heights, none seems more inspired than Tintin, and I do hope that he gets the opportunity to follow up on those ideas in the (hopefully) imminent sequel... AIFan
  9. Hi all, Okay, here is the last of the five-star scores, as I have assessed them. Enjoy and feel free to discuss! There will be a brief respite while I prepare the text for the thread for the four-and-a-half-star scores, so please consider holding your breath for those! Thanks for reading... Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983):This selection as a five-star score is perhaps a bit controversial (especially as it is the last of my five-star selections, notably leaving off A New Hope), but being as objective as possible, it seemed impossible not to include it.In a way that no other film could do, it gave Williams the opportunity to tie together so many great themes together in one grand conclusion (as well as introduce more themes, which he did rather memorably). This type of opportunity would only occur again some twenty-two years later when Star Wars Episode III: The Revenge of the Sith was released, and the less said regarding that fiasco, the better (especially as the discussion would relate to the closing credits). Admittedly, there are two flaws when attempting to approach the Return of the Jedi score with an unjaded eye: the quality of the film itself, and the quality of the soundtrack release(s). The quality of the film speaks for itself: some of the actors (I’m looking at you, Harrison and Carrie) appeared to have been phoning in their performances, the probability of the Ewoks’ ability to defeat the clearly superior forces of the Empire (thus the inclusion of the battle in space to help create a bit of balance), and the silliness regarding the redemption of Anakin Skywalker. As to the quality of the soundtrack releases, the original release was of poor quality recording and the brevity of it was nearly criminal.I remember owning the cassette tape version (still have it), and nearly wore it out because it was so short, which enabled for repeated play in my car’s stereo. It did feature some very good concert versions (including the “title track” Return of the Jedi, which really referenced the Sail Barge fight), and highlights from the score, but especially given the superior releases (2-LP) of the prior two films, it was clearly an issue of a new company handling the production and distribution of the soundtrack, and was a crushing disappointment for Star Wars fans. I also had to strip out the fact that this was the first of the Star Wars films that I had been able to see in the theater, which may have caused me to favor it above the others, but the fact is that it has now been 30 years since that time, and, if anything, the whole Ewok issue had caused a rather simmering discount toward the film in the meantime. I believe that, in light of stripping out these biases, I am confident in saying this is a definitive five-star score. The thematic elements in Return of the Jedi, first of all, include new themes, which I shall review briefly here. Foremost is the theme for Luke and Leia, once that connection is ham-fistedly handled in the film, in a non-surprise to the same degree that the Luke-Vader revelation had been in the prior film. The theme is a beautiful and reverent theme, almost easier to identify as a brother-sister connection as opposed to lovers (a la Han Solo and the Princess). The theme is primarily handled by low strings, helping to contribute to that spirit, and adding a real depth to the latter half of the film (especially to the pivotal revealing scene itself). There are a couple of themes related to the Ewoks, the first of which is the eponymous “Parade of the Ewoks”, which is ultimately a lot of fun and quite evocative of the pigmy creatures occupying both the forest floor and in the treetops above.It speaks to the curiosity and animated nature of the littlest allies within the Rebel Alliance, and appropriately is played on piped winds (recorders, flutes, perhaps pan flutes, etc.) in a jaunty manner that echoes “The Little People Work”, which would also be an appropriate title, I suppose. In the concert version of the piece, featured on the original soundtrack release, the cue starts with a horn like a shofar, and then the piped winds begin the parade. The march tune is repeated several times (with a great bridge as well), as more instruments and ornamentation are gradually added in, until a crescendo is reached and the piece reaches a raucous conclusion, perhaps representing the ultimate victory of the hairy Endor inhabitants. The other theme involving the Ewoks is the multi-part “Battle of Endor”, which is somewhat of a paler echo of the Battle of Hoth music from The Empire Strikes Back. While not quite as satisfying, it still ranks up with the most exciting action music that the Maestro has ever written, and serves the action in the film wonderfully. One can picture the bewilderment of the Imperial troops on Endor, both inside and outside the bunker, as the music alternates between Imperial determination and Ewok (as well as Rebel) desperation, with the occasional victory for the Rebels signaled by fanfares. Over three cues, the music parallels the story of the defeat of the Empire, both in the forest moon and in the partially-fabricated Death Star above. Themes appearing earlier in the film add a lot of needed color to the scenes featuring the rescue of Han Solo from the clutches of the evil gangster Jabba the Hutt. Specifically, there is a theme from Jabba himself, which characteristically features the tuba (and actually formed the basis for a movement of Williams’ Concerto for Tuba composed at roughly the same time). The theme is a meandering and lumbering exercise as the range of the tuba is explored in the theme. It starts out with the tuba scaling up, and then back down, where it then plumbs the depths further in the lowest ranges. The bridge to the piece keeps the range to the middle, but sounds almost like a pleasant walk in the park by perhaps a character like Alfred Hitchcock: a sort of ambling, deliberative, and conversational theme. Whether ornot that is an exact fit to a creature that has apparently engaged in acts of violence (or, more likely, had them ordered, similar to a Don Corleone from the Godfather films), it certainly matches the hulk of flesh that the viewer is familiarized with in Return of the Jedi. Regardless of the exact fit, it is a welcome addition to the Star Wars cannon, as it ends in a sprinkling of low tuba flutter-tongue and hanging tubular bells, signifying a kind of mysterious air surrounding the plight of the protagonists in the film. The other major action theme contained in the film, outside of the forest battle, is the battle on the skiff that accompanies Jabba’s main sail barge. From beginning to end, it is the perfect companion piece, and another complement to the action pieces coming before in the trilogy. From Luke’s speech to Jabba prior to fatefully stepping off of the extended plank (punctuated by staccato strings as he shows his defiance), to the embarrassing unintentional self-sacrifice of Boba Fett, to the triumphant destruction of the gangster’s barge and the death of Jabba himself, the entire proceedings are choreographed by Williams’ magnificent score, as captured best by the expanded 1997 version of the soundtrack. Special bonus points for spotting the same triumphal trumpet fanfare and motif occurring at the end of this battle sequence also at the end of the Infrastructure Chase cue at the end of the movie!It is one of the hidden gems of the entire trilogy. It is worth mentioning that the most significant difference between the various finally-released versions of this soundtrack. As mentioned, the original release left very much to be desired, but with Sony’s acquisition of the rights to the distribution of the Star Wars soundtracks in the 1990s, the full score eventually received the treatment it deserved (along with the other two movies in the original trilogy) to coincide with the 1997 rereleases of the originals. However, because of the significant changes to the presentation of ending of the film (instead of the simple Ewok celebration, the inclusion of the galaxy-wide celebrations in Coruscant, Bespin, Naboo, and who-knows-where-else to create a larger scope), there is no updated version of the original Ewok Celebration, and the best known version of that occurs on the four-disc Star Wars anthology box set released in the early 1990s. The box set also contains the immortal musical numbers performed by Max Rebo, which were completely excised in the 1997 Special Editions released in theaters and in the related updated soundtracks. The expectations regarding the music were actually fairly high for Return of the Jedi, and by exceeding those expectations, in my opinion, this score is deserving of the highest marks in the John Williams library. While the Empire Strikes Back soundtrack may get a slight nod over it, both are five-star scores, representing some of the best film music ever offered up on the big screen. Again, feel free to discuss this if you desire! AIFan
  10. Hi all, Thanks so much for the great feedback and now the discussion on what I feel has been an underrated score (speaking generally, of course -- here at JWFan, I would say that it generally gets its due)! Here is the next one, and it's not too surprising: Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980): Perhaps the least surprising inclusion on this five-star listing, this whole section of exposition could probably be skipped and no one would bat an eyelid. The Empire Strikes Back (including the prefix Star Wars Episode V from time to time) manages to do the impossible: match the greatness of the film itself. The film is scored nearly from wall-to-wall, and whether that spotting was done by George Lucas or director Irvin Kershner, the result is a spectacular magnum opus, treating each dramatic moment, each innuendo-laden remark (especially those between the Princess and Han Solo), each clash of lightsabers, each narrow escape of the Millennium Falcon (of which there were many), each new landscape, and each newly-introduced character. Any attempt to summarize this score in a few shoddy paragraphs would be doomed to fail, but I will try anyway (there is a fine line between courage and foolhardiness)! The most famous piece from this score, arguably, is The Imperial March. It is a marked improvement on the short motif given to the Empire at the beginning of the A New Hope score (in the track “Imperial Attack”), which was not terribly memorable, but still appreciated by most fans. The Imperial March is a different matter altogether, becoming instantly famous and now used liberally for any enemy or fiend (yes, including those times when the march is blasted on the megavision screens at various sporting events to represent the away team). While ubiquitous now, the march must have made an incredible impression on the audience members at the time, and I would have given an arm and a leg to be there at its premiere if only to hear that! (As it was, I do still recall the first time I saw the film, at my next door neighbor’s house in probably 1982, on their brand new SONY BETAMAX player!!) The march is almost unappreciated now because it is so oft repeated, but even the way it transitions between a clear 4-beat rhythm in the main A theme to the triplet breakdown during the B theme (the bridge, prior to the key modulation) is just one of many ways in which it not only builds tension, but also gives a kind of swirling “cauldron” effect to the evil represented by the Empire. If there is a fault to it, one could say that it perhaps is not quite “evil” enough, given that so much of it (especially in the first half) is dominated by the higher registers of the brass, and even flutes. The latter half definitely uses the lower booming registers more effectively, and is just plain louder, which can always be synonymous with evil goings-on. What also distinguishes the Star Wars movies (referring specifically to the original trilogy here) from so many others of the time and since is the superb scoring for action sequences, such as The Asteroid Field in TESB. Clearly a standout (and stand-alone, when it comes to the concert arrangement) entry in the Maestro’s curriculum vitae, this piece perfectly mimics and enhances the perilous journey of the Millennium Falcon in the middle of the film as it avoids both the inorganic (asteroids) and organic (TIE Fighter pilots) obstacles to try to find shelter while planning their next move to escape the Empire and regroup elsewhere. The cue starts very intensely, and only amps up from there, throwing in punctuations of both rhythm and dynamics as the Falcon dodges many close calls. Each explosion denoting the removal of a TIE Fighter from the field of battle is emphasized in the piece, which can be pictured in the mind’s eye even without the visuals. Finally, the cue ends with a soaring rendition of the theme for Han Solo and the Princess (to be discussed later) as the Falcon executes dodges many close calls. Each explosion denoting the removal of a TIE Fighter from the field of battle is emphasized in the piece, which can be pictured in the mind’s eye even without the visuals. Finally, the cue ends with a soaring rendition of the theme for Han Solo and the Princess (to be discussed later) as the Falcon executes dodges many close calls. Each explosion denoting the removal of a TIE Fighter from the field of battle is emphasized in the piece, which can be pictured in the mind’s eye even without the visuals. Finally, the cue ends with a soaring rendition of the theme for Han Solo and the Princess (to be discussed later) as the Falcon executes a perfect 360-degree loop above a fantastic asteroid in order to maneuver into a craggy opening, both spaceship and score settling down to a smooth landing. Between this sequence and the music for the battle on Hoth (featuring the first appearance of The Imperial March), action music scoring really would not get much better for either Williams or any other soundtrack artist. Yoda’s Theme is featured prominently in the latter half of the score for obvious reasons, but once it does arrive, it makes an unbelievable impact. Although hinted at in the score upon his initial appearance, its most significant exposition is during the lesson Yoda teaches to Luke regarding “size matters not” and proceeds to lift Luke’s completely submerged X-Wing out of the Dagobah swamps and levitate it to dry land. Luke’s incredulity is reflected also by the audience’s blown mind at hearing Williams’ score during the proceedings. In fact, because I simply can’t imagine that scene occurring without that score, I would posit that the scene would have no magic without that music. There is rarely a greater testament to the power of music in movies than that scene. There is a near-secondary tier of themes that exist in this film that are worth at least a mention: Lando’s Palace, the Lightsaber Duel, the Snowspeeder search, and the elusive Boba Fett theme), but there is one that is prominent enough that I will consider it to be a primary theme: Han Solo and the Princess. It is not given an appropriate concert version treatment in any of the officially-released soundtracks (the version recorded by Charles Gerhart was separately recorded, and considered more definitive), but is clearly a well-worn theme in TESB, and is a glorious celebration of the budding (and inevitable) romance between the rogue and the royal. It is featured, as noted earlier, in The Asteroid Field, and also in some of the Hoth action earlier in the film, as well as the carbon freezing scene (I could not NOT mention that), but its true crowning glory is no more fully revealed than in the final musical statement of the film. In that scene, Luke, Leia, and the droids, having barely escaped the clutches of the Empire (several times!) throughout the film, wearily look out of the medbay window to see the Millennium Falcon prepare for a hyperspace exit to find the captured Han Solo, and that cues the swelling and hopeful string crescendo resounding the theme, ultimately segueing directly into the end credits. The entirety of the end credits for TESB, by the way, are the greatest in the John Williams catalog (please, no snickering comparisons to the prequel trilogy at this point – it’s simply not fair). I’m still a fan of the film version end credits of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, as I know many are not, but that’s a distant number two compared to the simple combination of Han Solo and the Princess, Force Theme, Yoda’s Theme, Imperial March, and finale at the end of this film!! Please feel free, as always, to chime in regarding your thoughts! AIFan
  11. Here's another installment of the five-star collection from JW: Jaws 2 (1978): Before easily dismissing this (by just seeing the title, presumably) as a derivative score from the extremely popular generator of the formula for summer blockbusters used and reused for the nearly forty years since, there is a case to be made that this score should in fact be included in the pantheon of five-star John Williams scores. Though it might be heretical to say so, there may even be a case made to put this score ever so slightly ahead of its predecessor.There is no great shame in saying so; this comparison clearly does not include the movies themselves, as there is a gulf of distance between Jaws and Jaws 2 in that category (not to mention the entirely forgettable – except for comedic purposes – and misbegotten Jaws 3 and Jaws: The Revenge). After all, many consider the scores to The Empire Strikes Back and arguably Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom to be better than their predecessors because of the idea of taking the concepts and themes introduced in the original and building upon them and, in doing so, improving them. The Prisoner of Azkaban, detailed earlier in this thread, exceeded even the lofty heights of its two predecessors in the Harry Potter series (in my humble opinion). Anyway, to get back to the matter at hand, Jaws 2 might just be the biggest surprise of the five-star scores simply because it also adheres to the Goldsmith Principle (see the Hook analysis). The music in the score is to sea shanties and underwater adventures as the score to Hook is to swashbuckling pirate action and sword-fighting. The themes begin early and often, once again following either the naiveté of youth (immediately before they are scared / eaten / blown up / impaled / otherwise dispatched) or the tired exasperation of Chief Brody and his long-suffering wife, or just a fun day at the beach.Themes of note (pardon the pun, of course) include: Finding the Orca, which appears in the track of the same name, but also in many other early parts of the score, is an absolutely beautiful, dare it be said angelic, piece, creating the image of an underwater discovery of a sunken vessel during a scuba excursion. The use of the harp, not just for the performance of this theme, but throughout the score, is one reason the soundtrack is so beloved.It is employed to an even greater degree than the first film, and the score is better for it. It provides the calm, tranquil opening to a track, and a film, that will not spend most of its time very tranquilly. In fact, there is a sudden stop to the harp proceedings with a blast of horns and a Psycho-style staccato as the divers discover not only the wreckage of the boat, but the severely decomposed (and disfigured) bodies contained therein. In my opinion, the best use of the many references in film scores of the Psycho stabbing theme. On the official soundtrack, the Menu theme is up next, echoing, to some degree in sound (and certainly heavily referenced in the film), the Promenade theme from the original Jaws, but this track even one-ups the Promenade in terms of the theme itself, the build-up, and the rousing finale. The sheer majesty of its presentation of a classical piece is humorous in the same way that the Promenade was so jarring: not only would it not be expected in a horror film (which this was considered at the time – the slasher genre was somewhat in its infancy), but refined classical music shown against a foreground of rather slovenly vacationers engaged in various activities not normally seen in a stuffy concert hall is just plain funny. The next major theme is the Catamaran Race, which is (again, my opinion) the greatest single track written for any of the Jaws films. Williams perfectly captures the open-sea abandonment and sheer joy felt by the teens engaged in the race, the majesty of miles and miles of uninhibited water, and uncharted boundaries explored in the race between a couple of cobbled-together catamarans. The theme is instantly memorable, and starts off in a very similar vein as Out to Sea from the original Jaws. It soon parts ways in order to fit the fast-paced competition of the racers, upping the volume to match. The strings take on the vast proportion of the theme, but flutes jump in as well. The bridge section of the theme and the variations heard later on are just the icing on the cake, as well is the absolutely can’t-miss appearance of the original Jaws’ Shark theme, the familiar dum-dum-dum-dum up-and-down of the cellos, which breaks in at 0:10 of the track on the OST, and actually appears several times thereafter by different instruments in the background of the piece. This winking acknowledgement of the underlying danger that lurks beneath, while the teens frolic on the surface above, is but one of the great features of this score. There are also smaller themes related to Chief Brody, who didn’t have a (recognizable) theme in the original film, but is now given a mournful lament of sorts in the track “Brody Misunderstood”, which actually seems to recall the “Ben’s Death” tribute in the soundtrack to A New Hope from the prior year. However, the track ends on a seemingly hopeful note, forming into a determined new direction for the chief of police on Amity Island (and sounding a bit like The Patriot?). Much of the remainder of the score really has to be experienced, from the cue “Toward Cable Junction” (reminiscent of the closing credits from the original), to “Sean’s Rescue” (great action and tension cue, but the flute brings Princess Leia to mind), and the unbearable tension of the last attack of the beast in “The Big Jolt!” To top things off, the “End Title, End Cast” cue is great fun, starting with a theme previously unheard to start it off (as father and son float off into the sunset) – in fact, I’ll have to watch the movie again just to see if it’s featured elsewhere in the film, because it would make a great case for releasing a complete score at some point! The cue then ends on a last rendition of the Catamaran Race theme. It really is a great way to end the album, and the album itself is one of those examples of excellent programming, looking back on the flow of the tracks. It presents a limited, but effective, summary of one of the great scores of the Maestro’s oeuvre! AIFan
  12. Thanks, Chuckster312! I appreciate the information. Well, it looks like I have a few more purchases to add to the list! My poor wallet! AIFan
  13. Hi all, Could someone be able to quickly jot down the movies featured in the first clip above (the medley)? I would really appreciate that. I do have a lot of Silvestri (Contact, BTTF, The Mummy Returns, etc.), but there are some featured in there that I don't have, and would love to pick up. Thanks! AIFan
  14. Here's the next installment in the Five-Star Collection of John Williams' scores: Hook (1991):The premise itself seemed at least a little half-baked, and the ultimate result (following years of speculation that it might actually be developed and released as a full-blown musical, presumably featuring at least partially-composed music from John Williams) was about as half-baked as those expectations would be. While harmless enough as a film, and featuring hammy performances all around (Dustin Hoffman, Robin Williams, and Bob Hoskins have a steady diet of scenery throughout the film, but at least appear to be having fun making the film), the film will never be drafted into the AFI hall of fame for movies. However, in a rare Goldsmithesque situation for the Maestro, in which a film of somewhat dodgy quality receives an entirely outsized score, Williams generated an absolutely amazing score that functions as a stand-alone achievement, something requiring no visuals other than what the listener can conjure in his or her own mind: swashbuckling and swordfighting, adventures on the high seas, danger and kidnapping, childhood memories, and so much more. It is speculated that many of these themes were likely floating around in the composer’s head long before the movie because of its intriguing history as a potential musical since the mid-1980s. Regardless of the source of the great themes and even passing motives that occur within both the broad strokes as well of the subtleties of the score, it stands as perhaps the most varied of the scores produced by Williams, arguably since the score for The Empire Strikes Back.In taking a cursory overview of the important themes for Hook, the listener will note the spectacular main these as outlined below. The Hook theme, as played immediately (at least in the originally-released soundtrack, in Prologue), is a swashbuckling that both increases in volume as well as range. One can imagine the young (or, eventually, the old) Peter Pan ascending the masts to this theme while conjuring Erich Korngold’s scores of old.Its fast three timing (probably written in 6/8 time) is reminiscent of a jig or quick waltz, but in any sense, it conveys action and adventure in a way not implied since Williams’ Raiders March had debuted ten years earlier. The Hooknapping theme (hardly implying that Captain Hook is napping…har, har) plays a little further into the soundtrack, as the adult Peter Banning’s children are kidnapped by the nefarious forces of Captain Hook as they sleep in Granny Wendy’s house in London. This brazen act is accompanied by swirling strings that, similar to the Hook theme, spiral up and down much like the roiling waves that are represented musically at so many points in this score. French horns and trombones belt out the main Hooknapping theme, which continues for a quite a long line. Although the track settles on a quieter note (and in a similar fashion to techniques used later in Jurassic Park), the undercurrent rumbling provides a disquiet that helps to segue into the next section of the movie. The Childhood theme (first heard in Flight to Neverland, right after what might be called the Scheme theme, used later for Smee) and featured more prominently in Remembering Childhood, is a wonderful and soaring ode to the happy memories of childhood. It plays like a fast two (probably cut time), staying briefly on a high note and then alternating and staying a few steps lower, then jumping back up before descending for a little while, only to climb back up again and end triumphantly. It begins and ends (in the passage contained within Flight to Neverland) with the horns and brass, a rather inauspicious landing for which to pick up on the confused nature of Banning in the next scene when he realizes he’s not in Kansas anymore. Immediately in the score following this flight is the Pirate theme, signaling the inhabitants of this strange new world of Neverland. This theme is more technically a jig than the Hook theme mentioned earlier, at least in the way it starts, which appears to be on a pan flute instrument. It begins as a jovial, marching tune, fit for a motley parade of piteous (because of their clearly post-inebriated state) pirates, but then shifts almost entirely (at about 1:20 of Presenting the Hook) to become a jaunty, major-chord version of what is actually a much darker theme that still ends up with a smash-bang ending.This theme ends up repeating itself several times during the overall score, and surprisingly can fit into whatever context it is placed. It remains a truly memorable theme in the Williams canon. The Lost Boys theme is another infectious ditty (okay, that word somehow seems inadequate in this score!) that pops up immediately following the “rescue” of Banning by mermaids and his deposit upon the island of Lost Boys. In some ways it’s a march, but in other ways, it’s a kind of sassy call-and-echo format, with tubas and other low brass beginning the theme and passing it along to double-stopping flutes and other high winds with the response. While the theme on the soundtrack can certainly be taken as a stand-alone experience, it also matches the film experience action-by-action as Peter tries vainly to dodge the attacking (well, more like teasing with a bit of an edge) Lost Boys. By the end of the game, Peter finds himself entirely out of breath and ready for surrender against the skateboarding hordes. Bits and pieces of this theme also play out in the Final Battle cue at the end of the movie, rather appropriately. The You Are The Pan theme arrives in the film soon after the chase by the Lost Boys.In attempting to ascertain whether this middle-aged, paunchy, asthmatic man in front of them is the Peter Pan of myth and legend in Neverland, this majestic chorale accompanies the efforts of one of the youngest of the Lost Boys to lead that effort. In composing that rivals the best chorale parts of Empire of the Sun or Return of the Jedi preceding it, the Maestro powers through and exceeds the images on screen to send shivers down the spine of the listener, especially as the piece reaches its final crescendo in the finale. One almost wishes there had been a way to insert this into a more deserving feature, but one needs only refer to the Goldsmith Principle outlined above: just as the worst criminal gets a defense, even mediocre films deserve the best effort. The Banquet theme is one almost not mentioned because it does not appear enough in the film; as such, it is really more of a motif than an outright theme, but why quibble over small definitions? Besides, it is a simply wonderful theme that acts as an enormous sigh of relief right in the middle of score, like an intermission in the movie itself. (For those of you old enough to have purchased this score originally on cassette tape, this piece literally closes out side A, so maybe that’s why I see it as an intermission.) Again, it is a royal march from the French horn (Williams really loved that instrument in this score!) and euphonium and other low brass playing in their higher registers that is a celebration of jobs well done and perhaps even a slight acknowledgement of gluttony. The concert piece of the Banquet theme also features some solo performances from the top and bottom of the orchestra, adding to the flair and flexibility of this theme.In the film, the music matches perfectly to the film, as the crescendo reaches its zenith just as a thrown coconut is sliced in half by the rejuvenated Pan himself, and immediately decrescendos to almost complete silence, with a coconut half spinning on the banquet table. Returning back to something mentioned earlier, the Scheme theme is a personal favorite of many fans of the score, largely because it is so sneaky and sounds like it would be incredibly fun to play – perhaps even more so than the experience of listening to it. It starts out quietly, runs for four lines building up the mania and deviousness as it continues and builds, and passes the theme along to different instrumentations as it goes.(See the Williams on Williams: The Best of the Spielberg Scores album for the best version of this theme, under Smee’s Plan.) The theme appears several times in the movie: Flight to Neverland (as already mentioned), Smee’s Plan, Hook’s Lesson, and many other places. The most devious part about it is the way it burrows into one’s mind after listening to it! When You’re Alone is the closest segment within the score that resembles a song that would have been written for a Hook musical, and possibly was in fact written for the musical before that idea was abandoned in its infancy. In the film, it functions as a lullaby sung (unsteadily) by Banning’s daughter while in the care of her captives in the film, but it also is featured in Remembering Childhood in an instrumental passage, and in bits and pieces throughout the latter half of the film.It is a beautiful ode to childhood friendship in its lyrics (written by Leslie Bricusse), and its instrumentation also suits the parts of the film in which it is spotted as well. If the themes listed above are not enough evidence that this is a five-star score, nothing will, but there are actually many more, as well as little-used (but much-cherished) motives that are present and combine to make this score even more than the sum of its many, many parts. AIFan
  15. Alright, here is the second installment of the Five-Star Collection from John Williams (in my opinion): Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004):For the third installment of the Harry Potter movie series (based on, it should go without saying, the popular novels based on the same young magician), it is not clear as to whether the director’s instructions to John Williams were to forget everything that came before (the maestro had, of course, composed the scores to the wildly successful and identifiable first two films in the franchise up to that point).However, that is the direction the composer took, choosing to take a road not previously traveled and instead infusing the third film with an entirely new feel to match the new look of the movie visuals (the first two films had been masterfully helmed by Chris Columbus, but the studio had selected Alfonso Cuaron to direct Prisoner of Azkaban).The new film would have not just a darker look, representing the beginning of the end of childhood for the main protagonists, but would also focus on the characters’ pasts, mainly Harry Potter’s history and that of his parents’ adventures while battling He Who Shall Not Be Named.Whether this was a direct inspiration for Williams’ concentration on more medieval predecessors to today’s orchestral instruments to craft the score, or simply his response to the look and feel of the film under Cuaron’s hand, the results were that the series was given new life with this magnificent score, proving that a series, and a composer, are never too old to receive new breath and learn new tricks. The first of the new themes, and one which is referenced frequently but by no means to any tiresome extent, is what could be called the Parents Theme (featured in its concert version as Window to the Past).This utterly beautiful and heartbreaking tune, actually consisting of several lines, is referenced in the movie generally when Harry is thinking about his parents, or when his parents are mentioned (most memorably when he has a discussion with Professor Lupin at a crucial point in the movie).It is played variously by solo recorder, flute, at first interwoven with and then played by lush strings, clarinet, and then solo French horns (as a soaring and soulful conclusion) all within Window to the Past, as it is passed along to various instrument groups, and later is brought up gloriously in the Finale.The officially-released soundtrack does not do it justice as nearly as the full film score does, but it is enough to send shivers down the spine every time. The second main theme featured a couple of times in the film is that of Buckbeak, the flying creature attended to by Hagrid through the film, and who forms somewhat of a bond with Harry especially.The concert piece (Buckbeak’s Flight) features a rousing start on banging timpanis, and then launches right into an upward trajectory, much like the beast himself.The bassoons start cranking away, but then the flutes provide a woodwind launch to an eventual handoff to beautiful violin music at the top of the register, and that’s when the theme really gets going into what seems like a cut-time description of what it must be like to fly on this mythical winged horse.Off-beats are accentuated by flute decoratives, and before the listener knows it, he or she is let down gently by a flute descent.It is the closest that Williams has come to putting flight to music since either Hook, SpaceCamp, or E.T. (take your pick). The third main theme is one that was composed well enough in advance that it was used for many of the previews for the film: a little medieval music played in chamber style that is referred to in the soundtrack as “Double Trouble”, and it is also featured prominently at certain points in the soundtrack, also on different and entertaining groups of instruments (most amusingly in “Hagrid the Professor”, which starts with a kind of riff on the theme, and then the more straightforward version of it; it is also beautifully used in a kind of bedtime nursery motif version in “Secrets of the Castle”).That Williams could essentially just pull this out of his cap for the third film in a series where he could have just mailed in more of the same of the first two scores is a tribute to his true genius and it demonstrates just how much he must be the envy of so many in the field.It is utterly astounding how pliable this theme is as well. There is very rare used material, and there are many other minor themes making appearances that cannot even begin to be analyzed here (I’m thinking specifically of Aunt Marge’s Waltz, The Whomping Willow, The Snowball Fight, The Patronus / Dementors Theme), and probably the best Quidditch music Mr. Williams wrote for the series.All in all, clearly a five-star effort belying the true inspiration he received from this film. Comments? Questions? Feel free to post! AIFan
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Guidelines.