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John Williams: Unpopular Opinions


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I love how Williams reacted to the more cartoony, puppet infused nature of the movie and out of self-defense went balls-out Prokofiev mode, writing a fantasia for eclectic weirdo creatures.

Unpopular Opinion:   I've never been able to get into Hook.  I dig the 'Prologue' concert suite, but that's about it.

20 hours ago, bruce marshall said:

Try saying you don't like CE 3K, like I did,  and see what happens!

We do you over. Really, dude, we find out where you live, and we send the boys 'round, with baseball bats.

It is absolutely unacceptable behaviour at JWfan to suggest that the score for CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND is anything less than a bona fide masterpiece.

You have been warned.

 

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15 minutes ago, Jay said:

I listened to Saving Private Ryan's score recently and have what I think is an unpopular opinion:

 

"Hymm to The Fallen' is the worst cue in the Saving Private Ryan score

I agree. My guess would be that this opinion is more popular than you think. I have heard several complaints about its over-the-top-ness lately.

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As a standalone piece of music to hear say, at a concert, or on a compilation album, it could be OK.

 

But when I listen to SPR score now, I don't listen to the OST program any more - I think he made very bad programming decisions making that one.

 

I love the score in chronological order.  I would never want to sit down to hear it and start with anything other than Revisiting Normandy.  And I want High School Teacher to just be that cue, not have half of Omaha Beach reprised in the middle of it.  The whole score takes you on quite an emotional ride.  By the time The Last Battle concludes, I've had a very fulfilling experience!  Then Hymm to the Fall comes on and it starts OK but... eventually it gets SO GRAND, it delivers a completely different energy than the entire rest of the score does.

 

I've completely flipflopped on this score.  When I was a teenager and this album came out, I liked the Hymm track and could never get into the actual underscore.  Now, I like the entire score except for the Hymm!  Go figure.

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2 hours ago, Jay said:

"Hymm to The Fallen' is the worst cue in the Saving Private Ryan score

When I first heard HYMN TO THE FALLEN, I was of the firm opinion that it was a very strong candidate for the accolade "Single Best Track Ever Written By JW".

That it isn't heard in the film is it's greatest strength.

Unfortunately, it's been played at just about every Rememberence Day event since. I'm not suggesting that this isn't right, but, in a way, it kind of cheapens the music. I still like it, but its potency, and its emotional impact, has diminished.

 

 

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4 hours ago, Jay said:

I listened to Saving Private Ryan's score recently and have what I think is an unpopular opinion:

 

"Hymm to The Fallen' is the worst cue in the Saving Private Ryan score

 

All I listen to of that track is that amazing brass chorale part. Wonderful score btw

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I think, the very opposite is the case. There is hardly a movie that leaves so much space for the music as Hook. Probably because it was originally planned as a musical.

What might be a point is that when you expect a score to have one main theme and maybe a secondary theme and one action theme and maybe one scary theme and that's it, then Hook might be hard to get hold of. Too many concise themes coming and going and returning all the time throughout the movie. But it is more or less like in the Star Wars original trilogy.

So, I am tempted to say, if you don't like Hook, how can you like for example Return of the Jedi? I mean just the score, not the movie.

Of course Hook is a score to a children's movie. That is surely not for everyone.

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For me, it seems that the way he writes his music-cues for the action sequences of films in the ’70’s ‘80’s and ‘90’s has deteriorated in his film scores from the past decade like “Indy 4”, “Tin-Tin”, and the last three “Star Wars” films.

 

Williams had a unique way of making his action-music from the 1970’s through the 1990’s so enjoyable to listen.  He has this main melody or a motif-melody that recurs throughout an action sequence.  Only this melody/motif-melody is not associated with a main character, supporting character, or even a thing (like the Ark, The Poseidon, the Force, or The Orca). It’s like this main melody is the central theme for this one sequence.  Like all great composers, Williams varies this action scene’s main melody just like how he handles the marches from ‘Superman’ or ‘Raiders’--he introduces the main melody at the start and he does these things with it:

  • Plays parts of the melody sparingly.
  • In-between recurrences of the main melody, we hear these new passages that bridge them , giving the listener some time to be away from the main theme.
  • Re-unites with the main melody towards the end.

All this is done in a way that the listener doesn’t get tired of hearing the main melody before the sequence ends. 

 

In approaching an action sequence, it’s as if Williams writes like a ‘music composer’ first and then a ‘film composer’ second--the ‘composer’ part is when he goes nuts and comes-up with this great listening piece and the ‘film composer’ part is when he has to modify what he has written to conform to the demands of each frame in the sequence—timing, energy, speed, etc.

 

Go and listen to these action music-cues.  You’ll hear the main theme being repeated throughout the duration of the cue.

I cued all these YouTube examples to the first appearance of the piece’s main melody.

Tie Fighter Attack:

https://youtu.be/WzU9UkVL1QA?t=123

Asteroid Field: 

https://youtu.be/5TbWJJMdLsY?t=137

Marketplace Fight: 

https://youtu.be/uhnwk5LDG5c?t=21

Motorcycle Scherzo

https://youtu.be/1IFmRniWa0U?t=3

Now listen to Escape from Jakku and see if you can find that main melody.

https://youtu.be/e8_2K7QNtpI?list=PLuR0quEHq9iuir7VbT4yq6eSAbU8Bp2p5

This is the sequence that really convinced me that the quality of Williams’ film-music writing is diminishing.  Here, Williams is just being a ‘film composer’. 

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21 minutes ago, SyncMan said:

Now listen to Escape from Jakku and see if you can find that main melody.

https://youtu.be/e8_2K7QNtpI?list=PLuR0quEHq9iuir7VbT4yq6eSAbU8Bp2p5

 

This is the sequence that really convinced me that the quality of Williams’ film-music writing is diminishing.  Here, Williams is just being a ‘film composer’. 

I understand your point and can agree that Escape from Jakku is not Williams best action cue, but I think there are action cues from the last decade that do follow the thing you are loking for. 

TLJ

https://youtu.be/r9RBOpB0rVA

TROS 

https://youtu.be/jyQrRMkZR8k

 

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The Fathiers sounded to me in the first place like Scherzo for X-Wing without the Star Wars Theme. Still I like it.

But the Escape from Jakku is for me top of the whole sequel trilogy. Second is probably "I can fly anything".

 

And the speeder chase from TROS is to my regret the most uninteresting action queue Williams ever wrote. But to my regret as well it is quite appropriate to the scene in the film.

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I'm not even sure this belongs here but where else would I put it?

 

It's always a nice surprise easter egg when JW sneaks in some cimbalom to add to the texture but it quickly turns to disappointment that he very rarely does anything more with the instrument.

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1 hour ago, Holko said:

I'm not even sure this belongs here but where else would I put it?

 

It's always a nice surprise easter egg when JW sneaks in some cimbalom to add to the texture but it quickly turns to disappointment that he very rarely does anything more with the instrument.

Isn't usually a synth?

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10 hours ago, BrotherSound said:

It definitely is in The Force Awakens

Interesting! I don't suppose we have similar fitting leak excerpts for Black Sunday, Dracula, KoCS? It must be a real one in Schindler, it's prominent enough.

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I was told a couple of years ago that at present almost every use of cimbalom, celeste and others are always synth since is cheaper and the sound is almost indistinguishable. So maybe in Black Sunday, Dracula and Schindler's List is real, but almost certain it would be synth in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

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