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Alan Rickman Thought Williams’ Potter Score Was “Hideous”


Disco Stu
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7 minutes ago, Jay said:

People on this website love JW's Harry Potter scores, especially the majority of the people in this thread

 

Ohhhh, Jay, that's a bit of an assumption, isn't it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

;)

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You quoted me quickly before I fixed the typo in my post!

Now I know how Bespin feels :)

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34 minutes ago, Jay said:

You quoted me quickly before I fixed the typoe in my post!

 

I know you're very exact about using the term, but this does look pretty ironic.

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3 hours ago, Disco Stu said:

Speaking as someone who still loves the books, the first two movies (and the last five) are pretty terrible, but of course I adore the scores and I listen to Stone/Chamber as novel-inspired tone poems really.

 

For Rickman, I think it's clear that he got a lot of satisfaction from playing that character over many years, even if the films weren't his thing as a viewer.

 

It seems not just as a viewer but as an actor he had mixed feelings about the process of making them as well. Seems like he was actively trying to get out after 2 and debated it after 4. 

 

Reading between the lines I think his contracts must have gotten sweeter and other than that he liked the books, seemed grateful to JK Rowling, felt privileged to hold Snape's big secret and took that seriously. In the diary he mentions not even admitting it in a 2011 interview. And he enjoyed his scene partners and seemed happy the audience was happy. After a certain point he must have felt protective of the character even if he felt like he didn't have much creative freedom.

 

Considering all that it's even more impressive that his performances were among the highlights every time. 

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2 hours ago, Marian Schedenig said:

 

No: "The Diaries of Alan Rickman, written by the actor until his death with the intention of one day publishing them, will be released in autumn 2022" (The Guardian)

Alright.  I guess it amounts to an autobiography, then.  Writing private thoughts without the intention of others reading them and writing them with the intention of others reading them tends to lead to a whole lot of self-editing.  Though, in this case, he really wanted the world to know the music is hideous.  

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On 25/9/2022 at 3:13 AM, A. A. Ron said:

I seem to recall a fairly prominent film reviewer at the time said something about Williams score “never shutting up.”


I don’t disagree with that, the score is exceptionally intrusive and loudly mixed, especially in the first half. But it works for me - it elevates an otherwise average film pretty spectacularly IMO. It’s probably the last traditionally “theatrical” mix we ever got of a JW score, everything that followed was much more pared back in favour of sound design.

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4 hours ago, Docteur Qui said:

I don’t disagree with that, the score is exceptionally intrusive and loudly mixed, especially in the first half. But it works for me - it elevates an otherwise average film pretty spectacularly IMO.

 

It actually highlights the movie's dumb 'i spell everything out twice with pointed lips in case guys from Mars are watching' approach. Since we have gotten used to even worse filmmaking it doesn't stand out so much anymore, but apart from a few british thespians saving the proceedings by just standing around and raising an eyebrow to good effect it's like a bad Disney movie, with even more double takes.

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What's the problem with the first two movies? They are pretty accurate to the story in the books. But I guess one can nitpick everything 🤷‍♂️ 21st century things🙄

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My issue with them is that Columbus' direction and pacing is generally quite pedestrian, and that the production designers and cinematography came nowhere near the images evoked in my head when I read the books. It's the typical, cliched reason, but it's true.

 

I'd go as far as saying that I think CoS is actually a very average movie with very little momentum or strong direction. It feels like they just filmed a load of scenes from the book and edited them together without much thought.

 

Aside from the thespian performances from Rickman, Smith, Coltrane, et al, Williams' score is easily the highlight of the entire production but the combination of spotting and a loud mix (mostly in the first half I'd say) aren't going to win over any people who don't go for orchestral music so much.

 

Even listening to some cues on LLL's set gets a bit overwhelming in parts, with the loud Hedwig statements close together and some other bits where the orchestra is really turned up to 11. It doesn't mean JW's music is bad in terms of ideas, just that either he or Columbus/editors beefed up the sound perhaps further than it needed to be.

 

I spoke to a friend at the weekend about the last scene in RoP ep 5 and he, as a non-soundtrack person, very much noticed the score - not in a thematic sense, but explicitly noticed that there was music. Some might describe that scene as 'hideous' if they didn't care for orchestral music - I see it as more a reflection of musical tastes and not that the music is actually bad.

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The movie series overall, not just 1 and 2, serves no purpose for me.  They can't and didn't capture what I love about the books and I have no reason to ever watch them again.

 

The one exception being Azkaban, the only one that comes close.

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Cato here, but I still like The Order of the Phoenix the most: my memory of the book - if I hadn't already given-up on them by that point - is sketchy at best and I'm just judging them as one should: as movies. That movie had some editing choices I might have gone about differently, but on the whole it clipped along and had what I consider to be a very moving ending. I'm also partial to Azkaban (very inventive) and The Half-Blood Prince.

 

I've mellowed down on my dislike for The Philosopher's Stone: Columbus direction is a little pedestrian, but the novelty of the film counts for a lot and ultimately saves it from its own pacing. Chamber of Secrets, while more intense, does not have that luxury, sadly.

 

As for Rickman's thoughts on the Williams' score, I think its something along the lines of how@Fabulin reads it. Maybe he found the marriage of music and visuals a little cloying.

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What I didn't like especially about the first movie was Columbus', I would call it sugar plum staging. To be honest, the music pays into that, which is to my mind not the fault of the music. It fits the movie. It is a little like Home Alone, which shows the funny story of a five year old kid left alone. In HP1 it is that orphan boy living in a closet treated in his aunt's house very badly. But in the movie all of that is just funny. It took nothing of that really serious.

 

By the way, when I read the books again a few years ago I realized again, what a funny character Ron actually is in the books. He has regularly hilarious one-liners and is really funny in a smart way. All of that does not exist in the movies. Unfortunately.

 

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3 minutes ago, GerateWohl said:

I would call it sugar plum staging. To be honest, the music pays into that,

 

Yeah, that's my point: Sir Noel Coward once said that you don't want "two layers of romance" to vye for the audience's attention. It could be that Columbus' sugary visuals with Williams' dulcet score were too much for Rickman.

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11 minutes ago, GerateWohl said:

What I didn't like especially about the first movie was Columbus', I would call it sugar plum staging. To be honest, the music pays into that, which is to my mind not the fault of the music. It fits the movie. It is a little like Home Alone, which shows the funny story of a five year old kid left alone.

 

Yeah, it's like Home Alone on steroids, a throne already occupied by Home Alone 2 (another movie of deliberate awfulness). 

 

But i hand it to Columbus that he gave way to Cuaron and even invited him to execute a vision far beyond his own reach. And lo and behold, that score is something you can talk about without feeling a diabetic coma approaching.

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The first 2 are my favorite of the movies because they adapted the books I liked very well and have great casts and scores.


Starting with the third movie they started removing crucial parts of each book for reasons I still can't comprehend, and it got more and more annoying as they kept doing it

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I loved them as a kid too but then I grew up and the pedestrian filmmaking and worldbuilding and acting got too obviously mundane to keep that up. Azkaban is the only movie I still like.

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It's a classic example of being accurate to the books is not the same as capturing the spirit of them.

 

And really, for me at least, one of the most vital aspects of all the books is this feeling of having gone through a school year with these characters.  Something no film can do, really.  Maybe if they'd adapted the books in the current age of billion dollar television series, I dunno.

 

One thing I liked about Azkaban is how Cuaron emphasized the changing of the seasons, at least hinting at that rhythm of going through the year.

 

This is hardly my only problem with the movies not capturing the novels, mind.

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Yes! Another thread derailed to such an extent that I can justify another mini-review about the series as a whole! Thank you, JWFan.

 

HP1 and 2 didn’t make much of an impression on me when they came out. I do remember being scared of the Voldemort reveal cue in HP1 and of the basilisk’s screeches as it died. They were just nice movies.

 

3 was my very first film in a cinema. I thought the music sounded so different that they must have switched composers. But 4 was a turning point. The glorious score made the movie even more perfect and changed my life.

 

I never understood why people got so upset that they removed stuff from the books either. It never bothered me as long as the movies themselves made sense on their own, which 1-4 did 99% of the time.

 

Then, enter Yates. Now he made hideous movies. Suddenly Voldemort was no longer scary, but dull. I really disliked 5, 6 was okay, 7 was pretty great and 8 was not what I was hoping for.

 

As an adult, especially 1 has grown on me a lot. 2 might be a little long, but then, I have no idea what they could have removed. It’s a good movie, not special. I hold 3 and 4 in the highest regard to this day. 4 is at the top of the list. I’ll happily rewatch it every year. Well, that goes for 1-4.

 

Yates is the problem. 1-4 have a sense of magic that he just lost completely and it’s got nothing to do with growing up at all, he’s just a stubbornly boring moviemaker. You cannot justify the fact that the aftermath of Voldemort’s death is less satisfying/emotional than his return in 4.

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13 minutes ago, Disco Stu said:

It's a classic example of being accurate to the books is not the same as capturing the spirit of them.

 

And really, for me at least, one of the most vital aspects of all the books is this feeling of having gone through a school year with these characters.  Something no film can do, really.  Maybe if they'd adapted the books in the current age of billion dollar television series, I dunno.

 

One thing I liked about Azkaban is how Cuaron emphasized the changing of the seasons, at least hinting at that rhythm of going through the year.

 

This is hardly my only problem with the movies not capturing the novels, mind.

 

SS emphasizes the changes of season too—the jack-o'-lanterns signal late fall, Hagrid's Christmas tree signals winter, and then there's Hedwig's time transition to spring. Cuaron just gives it more of a through line by focusing on the Whomping Willow, even before its plot significance is revealed. It's arguably a more artistic and creative choice, but personally, I did get the "going through a school year" feeling from both 1 and 3. Not so much the others. (I agree that this is one of the core parts of experiencing the books.)

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In defense of Columbus, he was tasked with making a convincing movie with a bunch of really young kid actors--that is not easy to pull off.  As the kids grew up and became really good, later directors had a much easier road.  I would even argue the big theatrical score is, in part, to cover the weakness of a movie being carried by kids.  

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I'm cerainly somewhat of the opinion that a film that relies on a loud, thundering score has probably got issues somewhere else.

 

Not to say that there shouldn't be moments where the score shines but it shouldn't be very 5 minutes, and I can't help thinking that Columbus wanted so much emphasis on the magic, wonder and general sugar high, that he directed Williams to do what he did, or at least Williams got the sense that it's what he wanted and it wasn't rewritten. This is of course going on the assumption that if the director or producer doesn't like a cue, it's changing or going.

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29 minutes ago, Disco Stu said:

What would you say are the key differences for those characters between book and film that make the movie versions better?

Movie Snape can be cold and mean, but he still could protect three kids he actively disliked from a werewolf just because it's the right thing to do, which gave him complexity. Book Snape was just a prick.

 

Movie Sirius was a wise and composed father figure to Harry and Gary Oldman was the best part of Order of the Phoenix (and I say that as someone who dislikes that movie). Book Sirius was an immature hothead that got himself killed for a completely stupid reason.

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1 hour ago, TownerFan said:

A lot of actors don't like when the music does the heavy lifting in a movie, as to their eyes it takes a lot of attention from them. It's nothing new :)

It's like John Williams saying "You can hear the music now without the distraction of the film."

 

Sound effects and dialogue are obviously the "enemies" of music.

 

snape GIF

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3 hours ago, Richard Penna said:

I'm cerainly somewhat of the opinion that a film that relies on a loud, thundering score has probably got issues somewhere else.

 

Not to say that there shouldn't be moments where the score shines but it shouldn't be very 5 minutes, and I can't help thinking that Columbus wanted so much emphasis on the magic, wonder and general sugar high, that he directed Williams to do what he did, or at least Williams got the sense that it's what he wanted and it wasn't rewritten. This is of course going on the assumption that if the director or producer doesn't like a cue, it's changing or going.

Looking at Spielberg, I think, Williams likes to work with directors who like to give room for music. Columbus is probably a fan and same like I would be if I directed a movie scored by Williams. If the Maestro asked me where to put music, I would say "Everywhere, please!".

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1 hour ago, GerateWohl said:

Looking at Spielberg, I think, Williams likes to work with directors who like to give room for music. Columbus is probably a fan and same like I would be if I directed a movie scored by Williams. If the Maestro asked me where to put music, I would say "Everywhere, please!".

 

If I were directing a composer, my gut tells me I'd go in the opposite direction becuase I think basically everything is overscored. I'd start with a movie having no music at all, then deciding on places where the lack of music was harming it.

 

I definitely believe in the power of music transforming a scene but that doesn't apply to every scene.

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I gave the first movie a rewatch last year on its 20th anniversary, had been probably ten years that I watched it and it still mostly charmed me. As is typical, I found myself zoning out on some of the things I loved as a kid (Quidditch), and more fixed on the things I zoned out on as a kid.

 

Which is to say the best thing in it for me is the Mirror of Erised section which plays to everyone's strengths. Columbus's more straightforward style suits this segment best (there's exactly one evocative image which is the canted angle of Harry's fingers on the glass when he reaches for his parents...it's about all you need). Meanwhile Radcliffe only being asked to look sad while we project everything onto him. The Harry and Ron scene is kind of unusual for a movie like this in how quickly and simply it illustrates its point. Harris's whispery way with fantasy exposition that leaves you with something to think about for once. And Williams' score which continues commenting on the action, but on the point of this thread, pulls back deliberately to build up to the Hedwig flight, which is less an "isn't magic fabulous" statement and more an emotional punctuation to Harris's speech. "Live a little life" the music is expressing. Those 5-10 min from Harry discovering the mirror to A Change of Season are the most effortlessly sentimental and magical part of the movie. 

 

I'd like to watch the rest of them eventually now that a lot of HP trivia has evaporated from my head and I'm less concerned about how they compare to the books.

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I read the piece. Rickman doesn't sound a particularly curmudgeony kind of person in these notes: I've read memoires or diaries of other actors/filmmakers that were much more acerbic.

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This is going great!

 

I think the first two Potter movies are pretty dreadful, but you have to respect them for their casting and production design which stood the test of time with some tweaks along the way.  They felt like the entire contents of the book barfed out on the screen with no consideration towards making them filmic.  The rest of the movies are good enough.

 

Similarly not a huge fan of Williams’s first two Potter scores.  Think his third one is one of his best scores of the 21st century, although I think it, too, overstays its welcome in a program longer than the OST.  And of course any of Williams’ scores is better than what followed, which seemed to be a straight downward slope ending in Desplat’s bores.

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8 hours ago, Richard Penna said:

 

If I were directing a composer, my gut tells me I'd go in the opposite direction becuase I think basically everything is overscored. I'd start with a movie having no music at all, then deciding on places where the lack of music was harming it.

 

I definitely believe in the power of music transforming a scene but that doesn't apply to every scene.

So, you would be a good director. I wouldn't. I just love music.

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15 hours ago, Edmilson said:

Am I the only one here who actually loves the first two movies? They're not perfect, but they were a huge part of my childhood. I saw both in theaters (with CoS actually being one of the best theatrical experiences of my life) and then countless times on DVD, no matter how long they were. 

 

I know it's hip and cool to take a shit on them these days, but I still mantain fond memories of my childhood.

 

The second was better. The first one is exactly the kind of overstuffed doll's house you get when grown men direct down to children as if they were braindead. It's really killing the imagination and the actors seem lost (the actors are, of course, the best thing it has going for it).

 

I also don't get how people here can, say, celebrating E. T., another movie about young kid's that is really free-flowing and wonderfully complex in the emotions it draws on *AND* can stomach a big, operatic score by Williams and then celebrate something like SS all the same. It's night and  day. It's like one of those awful big musical productions of the 60's that run 160 minutes and you have to pinch yourself every ten minutes to not fall asleep.

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11 hours ago, GerateWohl said:

Looking at Spielberg, I think, Williams likes to work with directors who like to give room for music. Columbus is probably a fan and same like I would be if I directed a movie scored by Williams. If the Maestro asked me where to put music, I would say "Everywhere, please!".

I think it was Hitchcock who taught Williams that silence can be just as effective as music.

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2 minutes ago, GerateWohl said:

So, it is good, that I am not a movie director.

You could become a movie director who simply insists on having music throughout.

This would save the composer from sitting through the tedious spotting sessions.

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