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John Williams: Unpopular Opinions

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7 hours ago, Denise Bryson said:

It's nothing to do with their length, it's the intentional dead spots in modern blockbuster movies that provide a window for social media users to pull their phone out and tweet about the movie.

 

Intentional dead spots = logical dead end of modern blockbusters' insistence on premeditated 'action' highlights every 10 minutes for a numbed teenage audience. You just use no such services or you would realize that a Twitter user doesn't need any 'dead spot' to facilitate their habit.

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I mostly take issue with the rubbish opening (somewhere earlier in this thread), but the theme itself isn't particularly good either.

 

This is the point where Marcus and several others will start preaching about how much thought, craft and sheer genius went into every second of this piece. I'll pre-emptively state that I don't give a shit.

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Yeah, I'm not too big a fan of Battle of the Heroes, either. It smacks of Williams trying to write "another Duel of the Fates", only not nearly as good. The lament is a much better theme, and one that defines the film more than Battle of the Heroes.

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8 hours ago, Steve McQueen said:

Great deal of craft, I'll admit.

But that's exactly the problem. It's the least good crafted theme of John Williams ever! It comes across like he had this tragic motif for the duel scenes at the end and because Duel of the Fates was so successful, they told Williams to make a theme out of it. It's just a little motif with two different chords.

6 hours ago, Richard Penna said:

Anakin vs Obi-Wan does more interesting things with the theme, and already feels like a concert piece to some extent. BotH feels unneeded

Exactly. The logical consequence of what was apparently going on.

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And still, it does serve the function of the memorable theme that you can recall or even whistle going out of the film.

 

In terms of a theme that has a dramatic impact and gives the score a sense of identity, that's the role of the lament theme.

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34 minutes ago, Brundlefly said:

But that's exactly the problem. It's the least good crafted theme of John Williams ever!

 

To me, BOTH is a tie with the COS theme, but as always JW's eminent orchestrations save the day.

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But speaking of those orchestrational choices, it does smack of Williams following (or, rather, being made to follow by George Lucas) the film scores du jour: the ample use of SATB and boy choirs and taiko drums feel straight out of Lord of the Rings, the moaning woman right out of Gladiator; all we're missing are the uileann pipes from Braveheart and Titanic.

 

But I will say, the Lord of the Rings-esque operatic vibe suits that score, which in and of itself makes it one of my very favorite scores.

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I don't sense much LOTR in BOTH (nor the rest of the score), and what moaning woman are you talking about?

 

FYI: Howard Shore didn't invent the SATB choir nor the boy choir, nor the taiko drum. ;) All these elements are often found in classical music.

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16 minutes ago, Jurassic Shark said:

I don't sense much LOTR in BOTH, and what moaning woman are you talking about?

 

FYI: Howard Shore didn't invent the SATB choir nor the boy choir. ;)

 

Not necessarily in Battle of the Heroes, but in the score as a whole. Williams used choirs before, but he never before (or afterwards) crafted a score that feels like an opera in the way that the Middle Earth scores do. The inspiration, especially in tracks such as "Anakin's Dark Deeds" is quite obvious. And again, there's also a touch of Gladiator in "Padme's Ruminations" and probably some other popular scores of the era.

 

And while it is a touch deriviative, I will say it fits the atmosphere of the film.

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It's was not unreasonable to give the score to Ep. III an operatic character, given the film's subject and it being the final installment (at the time). JW's surely familiar with the classic operas and the compositional techniques that go into them. Besides, his "operatic" influence was clear already in TPM with Duel of the Fates, before Fellowship of the Rings, and he's written music on a grand dramatic scale also earlier. So you could actually say Shore was inspired by JW.

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8 minutes ago, Jurassic Shark said:

Besides, his "operatic" influence was clear already in TPM with Duel of the Fates, before Fellowship of the Rings, and he's written music on a grand dramatic scale also earlier. So you could actually say Shore was inspired by JW.

 

Not really, no.

 

The Phantom Menace has operatic passages, but on the whole its much closer to the sound of the first three Star Wars films. Revenge of the Sith, especially after the midpoint, is really quite operatic. Its unlike any other Williams score that I can recall, and you have some dead giveaways like "Anakin's Dark Deeds." Listen to it back-to-back with "The Treason of Isengard" someday and you might be in for a surprise.

 

I don't think it was a concious decision by Williams as much as it was driven by George Lucas. He really liked the Lord of the Rings films, and I can only assume he enjoyed Gladiator, as well. We're just lucky he didn't want pipes for Padme's funeral!

 

But as you say, it fits the atmosphere of the film so no harm done. Its actually one of my very favorite scores.

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The story of RotS begs for an operatic score, because of the tragic love story that it is. It's much like a tragic opera, and I doubt that JW wouldn't let that similarity go unnoticed, regardless of the influences at the time.

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I love ROTJ—probably my second-favorite SW score—but I thought it was commonly accepted that it was temped with lots of popular stuff from that era. The Anakin's Dark Deeds/Treason of Isengard is a dead giveaway.

 

I'm with those who prefer Anakin vs Obi-wan over BOTH, which seems stitched together with elements of Duel of the Fates, the brass stabs from Finlandia, and the climax of Neodämmerung from Matrix Revolutions.

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The funny thing is, when Williams borrows from temp stuff, a lot of the time, I wind up much preferring Williams' paraphrase of the temp than the original temp itself. The chase and finale of E.T. and the last movement of Hanson's second symphony come to mind. The E.T. cue is a blatant stealing of all the major musical elements of the Hanson movement, beat for beat, structured in precisely the same order, but each one has a little rhythmic or melodic twist that makes it fresher, bolder, and brasher. If you asked me which one I wanted to listen to, I'd pick the E.T. cue every day of the week.

 

To me, that's an almost impossible level of craft—that Williams can take a template, filter it through his own sensibility, and instead of winding up using it as a crutch, actually improve upon it.

 

I would say though that the borrowing in ROTJ doesn't quite rise to that level, but it still feels distinctly Star Wars-ian.

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1 hour ago, Chen G. said:

 

Not necessarily in Battle of the Heroes, but in the score as a whole. Williams used choirs before, but he never before (or afterwards) crafted a score that feels like an opera in the way that the Middle Earth scores do. The inspiration, especially in tracks such as "Anakin's Dark Deeds" is quite obvious. And again, there's also a touch of Gladiator in "Padme's Ruminations" and probably some other popular scores of the era.

 

And while it is a touch deriviative, I will say it fits the atmosphere of the film.

I wouldn't necessarily say that he took inspiration from Howard Shore, but more the general idea.

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In some cases, it goes a bit beyond that. The opening to the Dark Deeds sounds too much like the Seduction of the Ring: humming, melancholic boy choir over bass drum strokes. Which is to say nothing of Padme's Ruminations.

 

Again, probably the result of George Lucas pushing for that sound more than anything else.

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On 4/3/2018 at 5:17 PM, Not Mr. Big said:

Rey's Theme is the best Star Wars theme

 

On 4/3/2018 at 6:17 PM, Steve McQueen said:

 

Princess Leia's Theme, no contest. 

I'm leaning towards the Force theme being the best Star Wars theme.

(although I don't think this is an unpopular opinion)

 

* * *

 

Stanley and Iris is better than Force Awakens and The Last Jedi combined!

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34 minutes ago, filmmusic said:

 

I'm leaning towards the Force theme being the best Star Wars theme.

(although I don't think this is an unpopular opinion)

 

It's unpopular with some, by virtue of the fact that it's popular with most. So, what you said was true...from a certain point of view :)

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