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Is John Williams' Talent Declining?


Is John Williams' Talent Declining?  

52 members have voted

  1. 1. Was JW's work in the 60s-80s better than his work in the 90s-2000s?

    • Yes, he is not as good as he was in the 60s-80s.
      17
    • No, he is just as good/better than he was.
      35


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First of all, I apologise if this has been done before.

I say no, he is just as good as he used to be. I consider the old to be 60s (plus Daddy-o)-80s, and the new to be 90s-2000s (that gives the old an extra decade, oh well).

Here's a list of his filmography, seperated into the old and the new. Just for the heck of it, I've bolded all those I consider to be masterpieces, and italicized all those that I consider to be NEAR masterpieces (keep in mind, many of these I don't own):

The Old:

1989 - Always

1989 - Born on the Fourth of July

1989 - Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

1988 - The Accidental Tourist

1987 - Empire of the Sun

1987 - The Witches of Eastwick

1986 - SpaceCamp

1984 - The River

1984 - Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

1983 - Return of the Jedi

1982 - Monsignor

1982 - E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

1982 - Yes, Giorgio (Theme)

1981 - Heartbeeps

1981 - Raiders of the Lost Ark

1980 - The Empire Strikes Back

1979 - 1941

1979 - Dracula

1978 - Superman - The Movie

1978 - Jaws 2

1978 - The Fury

1977 - Close Encounters of the Third Kind

1977 - Star Wars

1977 - Black Sunday

1976 - Midway

1976 - The Missouri Breaks

1976 - Family Plot

1975 - The Eiger Sanction

1975 - Jaws

1974 - The Towering Inferno

1974 - Earthquake

1974 - The Sugarland Express

1974 - Conrack

1973 - Cinderella Liberty

1973 - The Long Goodbye

1973 - The Paper Chase

1973 - The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing

1973 - Tom Sawyer (Score Adaptation)

1973 - Images

1973 - Pete 'N' Tillie

1972 - The Poseidon Adventure

1972 - The Cowboys

1971 - Fiddler o n the Roof (Score Adaptation)

1971 - Story of a Woman

1969 - The Reivers

1969 - Goodbye, Mr. Chips (Score Adaptation)

1969 - Daddy's Gone A-Hunting

1967 - Valley of the Dolls (Score Adaptation)

1967 - Fitzwilly

1967 - A Guide for the Married Man

1966 - The Plainsman

1966 - Penelope

1966 - Not With My Wife, You Don't!

1966 - How to Steal a Million

1966 - The Rare Breed

1965 - The Katherine Reed Story

1965 - John Goldfarb, Please Come Home

1965 - None But the Brave

1964 - The Killers

1963 - Gidget Goes to Rome

1963 - Diamond Head

1962 - Bachelor Flat

1962 - Stark Fear

1961 - The Secret Ways

1960 - Because They're Young

1960 - I Passed for White

1959 - Daddy-O

The New:

2008 - Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

2005 - Munich

2005 - Memoirs of a Geisha

2005 - War of the Worlds

2005 - Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith

2004 - The Terminal

2004 - Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

2002 - Catch Me If You Can

2002 - Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

2002 - Minority Report

2002 - Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones

2001 - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

2001 - A.I. Artificial Intelligence

2000 - The Patriot

1999 - Angela's Ashes

1999 - Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

1998 - Stepmom

1998 - Saving Private Ryan

1997 - Amistad

1997 - Seven Years in Tibet

1997 - The Lost World: Jurassic Park

1997 - Rosewood

1996 - Sleepers

1995 - Nixon

1995 - Sabrina

1993 - Schindler's List

1993 - Jurassic Park

1992 - Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

1992 - Far and Away

1991 - JFK

1991 - Hook

1990 - Home Alone

1990 - Presumed Innocent

1990 - Stanley & Iris

Also remember this is just his filmography--television, classical, etc is not included.

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Hm, it's not so much his talent that is declining, but his interest in scoring films. After a while you lose things like enthusiasm, eagerness, freshness, wonderment ... He's a master with more knowledge than ever, but he no longer possesses 'the eye of the tiger'.

Alex

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John Williams as a writer of intelligent, complex and modern music, is only becoming more talented as the days go by.

John Williams as a writer of instantly recognisable, simple melodies manipulated in interesting and exciting ways, no longer exists.

It seems his mentality of writing music has shifted away from heavy use of leitmotif and weaving themes together, and more to the orchestration of the music, the rhythms and experimenting with new sounds.

So, no, it's not declining. He has been constantly shifting, changing and evolving as an artist. As any great artist does.

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I once again have to say that I think John Williams just can´t write big orchestral themes and bombastic soundtracks as he did earlier because there´s no demand for it.

I mean, if you look at his recent scores, many of them just don´t have the need for character themes, broad orchestral music etc. This style of scoring would even have been awkward in films like munich or WOTW.

Another issue is the way movies are made today.

Hardly any movie today is finished before it goes over to the composer. Usually they are edited until the very last moment, which causes problems for Williams´ style, especially with action sequences.

Wherever Johnny had the ability to write good themes and "impressive" scores (Potter, Geisha) he did it. So i think his talent is definitely not declining, but the demand for the scores he likes to write is...

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I think JW is WAY better today than he was 30 years ago (listen to A.I., Harry Potter, Memoirs of a Geisha, Saving Private Ryan). That doesn't mean that he's scoring better movies, though...

It seems to me like his musical techniques are so advanced and he's such a master of the craft, he cannot improve anymore, but he manages to surprise us time and time again.

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Hm, it's not so much his talent that is declining, but his interest in scoring films. After a while you lose things like enthusiasm, eagerness, freshness, wonderment ... He's a master with more knowledge than ever, but he no longer possesses 'the eye of the tiger'.

Alex

I agree. I was discussing Williams' recent output with a member here the other day and we concluded that Williams hasn't lost an ounce of his talent - what he has lost, though, is his sense of fun.

For example, see that moment in Raiders when Indy is riding the horse and chasing the truck that carries the Ark. The Raiders March plays triumphant, fun, underlining the exhilaration of the adventure. If he had to score that same moment today, we would have a fierce string ostinato with the syncopated xyolophone hitting in between quick statements of the bad guys' dissonant three-note motif.

Worse music? No. Less fun? Yes.

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Hm, it's not so much his talent that is declining, but his interest in scoring films. After a while you lose things like enthusiasm, eagerness, freshness, wonderment ... He's a master with more knowledge than ever, but he no longer possesses 'the eye of the tiger'.

Alex

I agree. I was discussing Williams' recent output with a member here the other day and we concluded that Williams hasn't lost an ounce of his talent - what he has lost, though, is his sense of fun.

For example, see that moment in Raiders when Indy is riding the horse and chasing the truck that carries the Ark. The Raiders March plays triumphant, fun, underlining the exhilaration of the adventure. If he had to score that same moment today, we would have a fierce string ostinato with the syncopated xyolophone hitting in between quick, statements of the bad guys' dissonant three-note motif.

Worse music? No. Less fun? Yes.

Hmmm, when you say "Less fun" do you mean less fun for us listeners, or less fun for JW the composer?

I think JW is having as much fun today . . . listen to A Whirl Through Academe, (the complete) Jungle Chase, and The Snake Pit! They're LOTS of fun, IMO.

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I say less fun for the listeners. And I'm not saying that he's lost the ability to write fun music, I'm saying that he doesn't see those big moments he's known for anymore. Evolution of the style.

Hmmm, I agree with what you're saying, but I think that's more due to the fact that the movies themselves are less fun these days. RotLA is certainly a more fun movie than KotCS, so the score reflects that. Even JW can't write a "more fun" score to a movie that's "less fun," if you catch my drift.

Still, I think there are MANY fun moments in Prisoner of Azkaban, The Phantom Menace, and yes, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. ;)

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Who the hell are we to decide whether or not a man of Williams stature and legacy is in decline?

Just because he doesn't produce bombast like he used to doesn't automatically mean his talent is on the wane.

Pfft..., I'm not obnoxious enough to discuss this.

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You can't really divide his filmography in half and compare the former and the latter. John Williams is the type of composer who has masterpieces throughout his entire long career. He has scored greats in the 70's and 80's, some of which are better than the music he does today. Likewise, he has scored greats in the 90's and 00's, some of which are better than the music he did back then.

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Is JW's talent declining...no. You don't lose talent with age

Are his scores different now than they were in the 70's/80's yes. They're not as "melodic", if you will, as they used to be. Consider, "The Jungle Chase" as opposed to "Belly of the Steel Beast". Its easier to "hum" belly of the steel beast than "The Jungle Chase"

Is his approach different, yes. He scores more for atmosphere now than for accompaniment of action. He's also, I think, drawing more on his contemporary concert music style now than he ever did before. Why? Who knows, but I do think age has alot to do with it - in terms of maturity and fatigue.

Personally, I think War of the Worlds was a major turning point in his style and approach. He's been much different since.

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Well I think he has lost a little bit. Now whether it has to do with age or the desire to compose for films, well everyone has different opinions. There's no doubt that he remains at the top of his game as far as composing and orchestration skills. I know there are those who say he has matured as a composer but it doesn't mean it's as interesting as it was in the past.

And I do believe as one ages their creativity drops. It doesn't mean a person suddenly gets senile and can longer function but I do think that a person hits their peak at one point and while they continue to produce a quality product it loses some of the things that made it great in years past.

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Hm, it's not so much his talent that is declining, but his interest in scoring films. After a while you lose things like enthusiasm, eagerness, freshness, wonderment ... He's a master with more knowledge than ever, but he no longer possesses 'the eye of the tiger'.

Alex

I agree. I was discussing Williams' recent output with a member here the other day and we concluded that Williams hasn't lost an ounce of his talent - what he has lost, though, is his sense of fun.

I think its more accurate to use 'populist fun'. I won't say he lost anything, but is more interested in doing it differently now.

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Hm, it's not so much his talent that is declining, but his interest in scoring films. After a while you lose things like enthusiasm, eagerness, freshness, wonderment ... He's a master with more knowledge than ever, but he no longer possesses 'the eye of the tiger'.

Alex

I agree. I was discussing Williams' recent output with a member here the other day and we concluded that Williams hasn't lost an ounce of his talent - what he has lost, though, is his sense of fun.

I think its more accurate to use 'populist fun'. I won't say he lost anything, but is more interested in doing it differently now.

I don't think populist fun is a fair term, his last two scores have been a sequel, and a snuff film, neither which inspired him to the great heights he's taken us before.

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John Williams as a writer of intelligent, complex and modern music, is only becoming more talented as the days go by.

John Williams as a writer of instantly recognisable, simple melodies manipulated in interesting and exciting ways, no longer exists.

But he still writes simple tunes. Actually, they're simpler. Compare the intricate harmonies of "Han Solo and the Princess" to the straightforward, triadic structure of "Across the Stars," for example. How about Irina Spalko's theme? Pretty basic. Monica's theme? Basically triadic. Marcus mentioned in another thread that Williams is a master at combining tonality with atonality. He can still do this, but he was more of a master at it in the 70s and 80s.

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I prefer not to compare the two eras, I see them both as just fluctuations of an artist's career, changing over time. I will say that he had a higher volume of truly masterful scores during the 70's and 80's. But again, more modern scores like Angela's Ashes and Prisoner of Azkaban are I think some his best work.

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Hm, it's not so much his talent that is declining, but his interest in scoring films. After a while you lose things like enthusiasm, eagerness, freshness, wonderment ... He's a master with more knowledge than ever, but he no longer possesses 'the eye of the tiger'.

Well put. Technically, he's miles ahead of where he was in the 70s. But nowadays he seems to score mostly two kinds of films:

1) "Serious" films which he has a personal interest in. Most of the time they're in his typical 00s serious style, which generally doesn't excite me much.

2) Blockbusters he has little personal interest in. Which is why, more often than not, he just doesn't seem to care enough to bother much anymore.

When he does write an inspired score, it's still excellent (look at the Potters, for example). And his serious stuff can be great, too (Rosewood and Amistad are among his best in that department, I think).

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Hm, it's not so much his talent that is declining, but his interest in scoring films. After a while you lose things like enthusiasm, eagerness, freshness, wonderment ... He's a master with more knowledge than ever, but he no longer possesses 'the eye of the tiger'.

Well put. Technically, he's miles ahead of where he was in the 70s. But nowadays he seems to score mostly two kinds of films:

1) "Serious" films which he has a personal interest in. Most of the time they're in his typical 00s serious style, which generally doesn't excite me much.

2) Blockbusters he has little personal interest in. Which is why, more often than not, he just doesn't seem to care enough to bother much anymore.

I think it would be presumptuous to gauge JW's interest level on certain projects....I also think that he's been experimenting a lot during recent years, and that experimenting has caused a rift between old JW and new JW. I personally get the sense of a lot of excitment going into a lot of his recent scores. But I wouldn't assume that the scores I'm less fond of are scores JW has less interest in (Like a certain MB's assertion that JW was clearly uninspired with The Last Crusade....).

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Hm, it's not so much his talent that is declining, but his interest in scoring films. After a while you lose things like enthusiasm, eagerness, freshness, wonderment ... He's a master with more knowledge than ever, but he no longer possesses 'the eye of the tiger'.

Well put. Technically, he's miles ahead of where he was in the 70s. But nowadays he seems to score mostly two kinds of films:

1) "Serious" films which he has a personal interest in. Most of the time they're in his typical 00s serious style, which generally doesn't excite me much.

2) Blockbusters he has little personal interest in. Which is why, more often than not, he just doesn't seem to care enough to bother much anymore.

When he does write an inspired score, it's still excellent (look at the Potters, for example). And his serious stuff can be great, too (Rosewood and Amistad are among his best in that department, I think).

NO

In the 00's he's has openly expressed interest in scoring Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Memoirs, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.,

The serious films he's scored otherwise have all been Spielberg films

The blockbusters have all been Spielberg, Lucas or Potter.

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I think that Hook (among others) rebuts any arguments claiming he has "lost his sense of fun" since the 70s-80s.

Well that was almost 20 years ago. Things changed after Schindler's List.

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The Old:

1989 - Always

1989 - Born on the Fourth of July

1989 - Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

1988 - The Accidental Tourist

1987 - Empire of the Sun

1987 - The Witches of Eastwick

1986 - SpaceCamp

1984 - The River

1984 - Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

1983 - Return of the Jedi

1982 - Monsignor

1982 - E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

1982 - Yes, Giorgio (Theme)

1981 - Heartbeeps

1981 - Raiders of the Lost Ark

1980 - The Empire Strikes Back

1979 - 1941

1979 - Dracula

1978 - Superman - The Movie

1978 - Jaws 21978 - The Fury

1977 - Close Encounters of the Third Kind

1977 - Star Wars

1977 - Black Sunday

1976 - Midway

1976 - The Missouri Breaks

1976 - Family Plot

1975 - The Eiger Sanction

1975 - Jaws

1974 - The Towering Inferno

1974 - Earthquake

1974 - The Sugarland Express

1974 - Conrack

1973 - Cinderella Liberty

1973 - The Long Goodbye

1973 - The Paper Chase

1973 - The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing

1973 - Tom Sawyer (Score Adaptation)

1973 - Images

1973 - Pete 'N' Tillie

1972 - The Poseidon Adventure

1972 - The Cowboys

1971 - Fiddler o n the Roof (Score Adaptation)

1971 - Story of a Woman

1969 - The Reivers

1969 - Goodbye, Mr. Chips (Score Adaptation)

1969 - Daddy's Gone A-Hunting

1967 - Valley of the Dolls (Score Adaptation)

1967 - Fitzwilly

1967 - A Guide for the Married Man

1966 - The Plainsman

1966 - Penelope

1966 - Not With My Wife, You Don't!

1966 - How to Steal a Million

1966 - The Rare Breed

1965 - The Katherine Reed Story

1965 - John Goldfarb, Please Come Home

1965 - None But the Brave

1964 - The Killers

1963 - Gidget Goes to Rome

1963 - Diamond Head

1962 - Bachelor Flat

1962 - Stark Fear

1961 - The Secret Ways

1960 - Because They're Young

1960 - I Passed for White

1959 - Daddy-O

The New:

2008 - Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

2005 - Munich

2005 - Memoirs of a Geisha

2005 - War of the Worlds

2005 - Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith

2004 - The Terminal

2004 - Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

2002 - Catch Me If You Can

2002 - Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

2002 - Minority Report

2002 - Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones

2001 - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

2001 - A.I. Artificial Intelligence

2000 - The Patriot

1999 - Angela's Ashes

1999 - Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

1998 - Stepmom

1998 - Saving Private Ryan

1997 - Amistad

1997 - Seven Years in Tibet

1997 - The Lost World: Jurassic Park

1997 - Rosewood

1996 - Sleepers

1995 - Nixon

1995 - Sabrina

1993 - Schindler's List

1993 - Jurassic Park

1992 - Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

1992 - Far and Away

1991 - JFK

1991 - Hook

1990 - Home Alone

1990 - Presumed Innocent

1990 - Stanley & Iris

To me, only two scores stand up in the "new" Williams and six for the "old" Williams .

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Talent and creativity have little to no bearing on technical skill.

Technically he is growing. Creatively he's proven to be a dry well since 2005.

But that's what happens when you've been in an industry for 50 years.

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The Old:

1989 - Always

1989 - Born on the Fourth of July

1989 - Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

1988 - The Accidental Tourist

1987 - Empire of the Sun

1987 - The Witches of Eastwick

1986 - SpaceCamp

1984 - The River

1984 - Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

1983 - Return of the Jedi

1982 - Monsignor

1982 - E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

1982 - Yes, Giorgio (Theme)

1981 - Heartbeeps

1981 - Raiders of the Lost Ark

1980 - The Empire Strikes Back

1979 - 1941

1979 - Dracula

1978 - Superman - The Movie

1978 - Jaws 21978 - The Fury

1977 - Close Encounters of the Third Kind

1977 - Star Wars

1977 - Black Sunday

1976 - Midway

1976 - The Missouri Breaks

1976 - Family Plot

1975 - The Eiger Sanction

1975 - Jaws

1974 - The Towering Inferno

1974 - Earthquake

1974 - The Sugarland Express

1974 - Conrack

1973 - Cinderella Liberty

1973 - The Long Goodbye

1973 - The Paper Chase

1973 - The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing

1973 - Tom Sawyer (Score Adaptation)

1973 - Images

1973 - Pete 'N' Tillie

1972 - The Poseidon Adventure

1972 - The Cowboys

1971 - Fiddler o n the Roof (Score Adaptation)

1971 - Story of a Woman

1969 - The Reivers

1969 - Goodbye, Mr. Chips (Score Adaptation)

1969 - Daddy's Gone A-Hunting

1967 - Valley of the Dolls (Score Adaptation)

1967 - Fitzwilly

1967 - A Guide for the Married Man

1966 - The Plainsman

1966 - Penelope

1966 - Not With My Wife, You Don't!

1966 - How to Steal a Million

1966 - The Rare Breed

1965 - The Katherine Reed Story

1965 - John Goldfarb, Please Come Home

1965 - None But the Brave

1964 - The Killers

1963 - Gidget Goes to Rome

1963 - Diamond Head

1962 - Bachelor Flat

1962 - Stark Fear

1961 - The Secret Ways

1960 - Because They're Young

1960 - I Passed for White

1959 - Daddy-O

The New:

2008 - Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

2005 - Munich

2005 - Memoirs of a Geisha

2005 - War of the Worlds

2005 - Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith

2004 - The Terminal

2004 - Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

2002 - Catch Me If You Can

2002 - Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

2002 - Minority Report

2002 - Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones

2001 - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

2001 - A.I. Artificial Intelligence

2000 - The Patriot

1999 - Angela's Ashes

1999 - Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

1998 - Stepmom

1998 - Saving Private Ryan

1997 - Amistad

1997 - Seven Years in Tibet

1997 - The Lost World: Jurassic Park

1997 - Rosewood

1996 - Sleepers

1995 - Nixon

1995 - Sabrina

1993 - Schindler's List

1993 - Jurassic Park

1992 - Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

1992 - Far and Away

1991 - JFK

1991 - Hook

1990 - Home Alone

1990 - Presumed Innocent

1990 - Stanley & Iris

To me, only two scores stand up in the "new" Williams and six for the "old" Williams .

what do you mean, I really don't understand your post.

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Talent and creativity have little to no bearing on technical skill.

Technically he is growing. Creatively he's proven to be a dry well since 2005.

But that's what happens when you've been in an industry for 50 years.

Someone actually agrees with my point?

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Williams worked incredibly hard and has made some wonderful music in his life, but now I think he's just having fun doing what he wants just dabbing in score work and enjoying his life. I don't think you can quantify that as better or worse talent wise. He still has all the tools he did before, he just doesn't choose to use them. He's still just as talented. I don't think talent can leave you.

That said, I do think there is a progression of his work. Certainly his earlier works are the standard to which all else is held, but his newer works, like Schindler's List and Memoirs of a Geisha are just not even comparable to those. They show a continuation of his music ingenuity but with a more conservative and subdued nature than the operatic scores he's known for do. still fantastic music though.

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In my experience, the same laws of the universe that make an old massive corporation an immovable lump of great technical breadth but little creative energy exist in each individual person.

You can't change that, anymore than you can lift 300 tons with your pinky.

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I think there are several factors that potentially distort our perception.

A. Movies have changed; the way they are edited and directed has a big effect on the musical approach he takes. Its also safe to assume that the expectations that directors have on the music has changed

B. The types of movies he has done have changed; obviously he has done a lot more smaller-scale and serious movies in the latter half of his career, movies that his core group of fans are less interested in I think its safe to say as a generalization and, at any rate, often require a more introverted approach.

C. We’ve changed. We rarely factor in how our own tastes have evolved, how nostalgia could play a role, how are interest may have waned over the years, etc. And yet these are bound to be factors to varying degrees.

D. He’s written so much music and we’ve heard so much music that very little is gong to sound completely original. Its easy to hold him to an unfair standard, like he has to completely invent a new sound or we’re reminded of past scores and that is going to give the impression of less creativity. Related to that, he’s had to do lots of sequel scores which lend themselves to having to work within the same sound, retread similar ideas and so forth.

But to the extent his sound has changed independent of all of this I don’t really find it less creative or less talented and I think its precisely because of that consistency of approach that JW calls it a "happy accident" if people also like the music on its own. And I’m much more struck by this consistency in approach than I am by the evolution in his sound - something which gets slightly exaggerated IMO.

- Adam

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The Old:

1989 - Always

1989 - Born on the Fourth of July

1989 - Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

1988 - The Accidental Tourist

1987 - Empire of the Sun

1987 - The Witches of Eastwick

1986 - SpaceCamp

1984 - The River

1984 - Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

1983 - Return of the Jedi

1982 - Monsignor

1982 - E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

1982 - Yes, Giorgio (Theme)

1981 - Heartbeeps

1981 - Raiders of the Lost Ark

1980 - The Empire Strikes Back

1979 - 1941

1979 - Dracula

1978 - Superman - The Movie

1978 - Jaws 21978 - The Fury

1977 - Close Encounters of the Third Kind

1977 - Star Wars

1977 - Black Sunday

1976 - Midway

1976 - The Missouri Breaks

1976 - Family Plot

1975 - The Eiger Sanction

1975 - Jaws

1974 - The Towering Inferno

1974 - Earthquake

1974 - The Sugarland Express

1974 - Conrack

1973 - Cinderella Liberty

1973 - The Long Goodbye

1973 - The Paper Chase

1973 - The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing

1973 - Tom Sawyer (Score Adaptation)

1973 - Images

1973 - Pete 'N' Tillie

1972 - The Poseidon Adventure

1972 - The Cowboys

1971 - Fiddler o n the Roof (Score Adaptation)

1971 - Story of a Woman

1969 - The Reivers

1969 - Goodbye, Mr. Chips (Score Adaptation)

1969 - Daddy's Gone A-Hunting

1967 - Valley of the Dolls (Score Adaptation)

1967 - Fitzwilly

1967 - A Guide for the Married Man

1966 - The Plainsman

1966 - Penelope

1966 - Not With My Wife, You Don't!

1966 - How to Steal a Million

1966 - The Rare Breed

1965 - The Katherine Reed Story

1965 - John Goldfarb, Please Come Home

1965 - None But the Brave

1964 - The Killers

1963 - Gidget Goes to Rome

1963 - Diamond Head

1962 - Bachelor Flat

1962 - Stark Fear

1961 - The Secret Ways

1960 - Because They're Young

1960 - I Passed for White

1959 - Daddy-O

The New:

2008 - Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

2005 - Munich

2005 - Memoirs of a Geisha

2005 - War of the Worlds

2005 - Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith

2004 - The Terminal

2004 - Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

2002 - Catch Me If You Can

2002 - Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

2002 - Minority Report

2002 - Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones

2001 - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

2001 - A.I. Artificial Intelligence

2000 - The Patriot

1999 - Angela's Ashes

1999 - Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

1998 - Stepmom

1998 - Saving Private Ryan

1997 - Amistad

1997 - Seven Years in Tibet

1997 - The Lost World: Jurassic Park

1997 - Rosewood

1996 - Sleepers

1995 - Nixon

1995 - Sabrina

1993 - Schindler's List

1993 - Jurassic Park

1992 - Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

1992 - Far and Away

1991 - JFK

1991 - Hook

1990 - Home Alone

1990 - Presumed Innocent

1990 - Stanley & Iris

To me, only two scores stand up in the "new" Williams and six for the "old" Williams .

what do you mean, I really don't understand your post.

I point what is , in my opinion ,the scores I like the most, I listen and buy some scores of JW since 79, but since 90 there is not so much interresting scores i like to own...

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I think there are several factors that potentially distort our perception.

A. Movies have changed; the way they are edited and directed has a big effect on the musical approach he takes. Its also safe to assume that the expectations that directors have on the music has changed

B. The types of movies he has done have changed; obviously he has done a lot more smaller-scale and serious movies in the latter half of his career, movies that his core group of fans are less interested in I think its safe to say as a generalization and, at any rate, often require a more introverted approach.

C. We’ve changed. We rarely factor in how our own tastes have evolved, how nostalgia could play a role, how are interest may have waned over the years, etc. And yet these are bound to be factors to varying degrees.

D. He’s written so much music and we’ve heard so much music that very little is gong to sound completely original. Its easy to hold him to an unfair standard, like he has to completely invent a new sound or we’re reminded of past scores and that is going to give the impression of less creativity. Related to that, he’s had to do lots of sequel scores which lend themselves to having to work within the same sound, retread similar ideas and so forth.

But to the extent his sound has changed independent of all of this I don’t really find it less creative or less talented and I think its precisely because of that consistency of approach that JW calls it a "happy accident" if people also like the music on its own. And I’m much more struck by this consistency in approach than I am by the evolution in his sound - something which gets slightly exaggerated IMO.

- Adam

Well put Adam! :D

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In evaluating the quality of a film score, each of us -- depending upon personal penchance, perspective, and proficiency -- tends to place different emphases on various overlapping and interdependent criteria, among which are "craft" (the way in which the score complements its film), "art" (melody, harmony, rhythm, timbre, and so on), and "entertainment" (the overall satisfaction one derives from the stand-alone listening experience). In doing so, we often talk past one another as well as underestimate the degree to which multiple factors interact to influence our response to a score.

Once again, Adam asks us to think hard about the context in which a particular score is produced -- a valid consideration that may seem irrelevant to one who focuses more on the "art" or "entertainment" criteria but is nonetheless incumbent upon anyone making claims about the waxing or waning of a composer's talent. For instance, the inevitable loss of valuable brain cells (and resulting decline in cognitive performance) as a composer ages is not exclusive of the possible existence of working conditions increasingly hostile to creativity and dramatic coherence. Adam also urges us to take into account the context in which a particular score is heard and apprehended. Whatever the listener brings to the table is as important as whatever the composer has brought to the table.

I do have to take issue with a few of the things Adam mentions. The nostalgia card should be played sparingly. Any objection to perceived changes in style can be easily derided as a blind kowtow to nostalgia's whims, but such a presumption, warranted or not, merely short-circuits the conversation. In addition, point B doesn't really speak to those of us who find Williams's work for the "smaller-scale and serious movies" more interesting and less problematic than his recent forays into the kind of large-canvas popcorn fare that made him a household name in the first place.

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In evaluating the quality of a film score, each of us -- depending upon personal penchance, perspective, and proficiency -- tends to place different emphases on various overlapping and interdependent criteria, among which are "craft" (the way in which the score complements its film), "art" (melody, harmony, rhythm, timbre, and so on), and "entertainment" (the overall satisfaction one derives from the stand-alone listening experience). In doing so, we often talk past one another as well as underestimate the degree to which multiple factors interact to influence our response to a score.

Once again, Adam asks us to think hard about the context in which a particular score is produced -- a valid consideration that may seem irrelevant to one who focuses more on the "art" or "entertainment" criteria but is nonetheless incumbent upon anyone making claims about the waxing or waning of a composer's talent. For instance, the inevitable loss of valuable brain cells (and resulting decline in cognitive performance) as a composer ages is not exclusive of the possible existence of working conditions increasingly hostile to creativity and dramatic coherence. Adam also urges us to take into account the context in which a particular score is heard and apprehended. Whatever the listener brings to the table is as important as whatever the composer has brought to the table.

I do have to take issue with a few of the things Adam mentions. The nostalgia card should be played sparingly. Any objection to perceived changes in style can be easily derided as a blind kowtow to nostalgia's whims, but such a presumption, warranted or not, merely short-circuits the conversation. In addition, point B doesn't really speak to those of us who find Williams's work for the "smaller-scale and serious movies" more interesting and less problematic than his recent forays into the kind of large-canvas popcorn fare that made him a household name in the first place.

I appreciate your thoughts - very articulate as usual. Actually, I don't disagree with your final comments. I've never been one to impugn somebody's motives for liking or disliking something by saying its nostalgia. I'm willing to give people the benefit of the doubt just as I would hope that people would do for me. Nonetheless, as a general point I'm willing to stipulate it could be a factor for some. That sounds a little contradictory as I read that but I guess the distinction is being able to isolate certain factors in a general way but resisting the temptation to apply it in specific cases except for ourselves if appropriate for the reasons that you mentioned.

I probably should have emphasized what I said at the beginning which is that these are all "potential" mitigating factors, not meant to cover everyone by any means. Like you, I find his smaller, serious scores more interesting but my point is that to the extent that we seem to be an exception this could also be a factor in people's perceptions. Its also partly these kinds of scores that make me skeptical of some sort of decline. When I hear Becoming a Geisha with the movie, for example, there's something spectacular about the way he gets the music to marry with the scene, in addition to being so well written on its own and its hard for me to imagine how he could have done any better 20 or 30 years ago. It could be a failure of imagination on my part but I have that reaction all the time with his later scores and that's partly what informs my opinion on this subject.

- Adam

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