Me...? For starters... That he got me into this whole shebang in the first place, via JAWS, almost imperceptibly*, and then Full On, with STAR WARS, CE3K and SUPERMAN THE MOVIE. I also love the way he does that little trademark 'up the scale' thing, at the end of many of his cues. Also, that he's written the music to many of my All Time Favourite Films (THE COWBOYS, THE REIVERS, JAWS, SW, SUPERMAN, CE3K, SW-TESB, E.T, RAIDERS/TEMPLE OF DOOM, EMPIRE OF THE SUN). And that he's managed to stay on top, for over 5 DECADES!!! While trends come, and trends go, and styles change, he just carried on writing Top Notch Film Music. Let's hear yours!
*I was only 10, and thought Marc Bolan/T-REX was IT!!
That he got me into this whole shebang in the first place, via JAWS, almost imperceptibly*, and then Full On, with STAR WARS, CE3K and SUPERMAN THE MOVIE.
This is probably the same for me: it was his score for STAR WARS that had me seriously thinking about film music and wanting to hear more of it.
I had tickled the periphery of soundtracks with compilation TV and film themes (e.g., Geoff Love's LPs) so I knew that there were great themes out there. And there were the occasional times when there was a piece of music in the middle of a film that was great to listen to (and record off the TV).
But, it wasn't until I heard Williams' STAR WARS that I appreciated I could buy these albums to keep and listen to over and over again. And then I started looking out for (and listening out for) music that I would want to acquire as part of a collection.
Cool! My latest 'Fave Rave', is getting to know music by him, that I had previously absorbed into my very core, in a whole new way. Hearing these new edition 'the actual film score' versions, such as JAWS, EARTHQUAKE, THE EIGER SANCTION and THE RIVER is just a tremendous rush. To be able to re-experience these compositions, that I know EVERY NOTE and SOUND of, in a new/alternate way, is just THE BEST!!
1) He's still among the living 2) He is a very humble, soft spoken and appreciative man who seems to love his fans 3) His almost ESP-like ability to land high quality projects on a consistent basis. Not to say he hasn't scored a few turkeys in his career because he has but those are in the minority. 4) Love his kinder, gentler scores of the late 80s and early 90s such as Accidental Tourist, Always, Presumed Innocent and Stanley & Iris.
This is a very interesting thread....So here we go.
I will go against the main wave, not for a change I am afraid.
What I like the most with John Williams....? Everything pre-STAR WARS symphonic neo-Richard Strauss standard!
Namely: LAND OF THE GIANTS JANE EYRE THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE CINDERELLA LIBERTY THE TOWERING INFERNO JAWS THE EIGER SANCTION MIDWAY BLACK SUNDAY FAMILY PLOT
Middle-size orchestral stuff....no-over orchestration nor over-swachbuckling effects. Serious and ambitious music faithfull to Silver Age heritage of the late sixties....This is the way of scoring I prefer as I just couldn't live without Williams pre-STAR WARS output.
Considering some dystopian trip, we could figure out two possible next steps in John Williams carreer at this very 1977 moment:
1) A fictional one, WITHOUT STAR WARS movie, where he'd go on in that pre-STAR WARS musical trend, parrallel to Jerry Goldsmith, John Barry, Elmer Bernstein, Dominic Frontiere (and others) style of scoring. The typical pré-STAR WARS sci-fi scoring style example that comes to mind is Jerry Goldsmith's LOGAN'S RUN. This score would never been done that way after STAR WARS success I guess...althought it is perfect in the movie.
2) The actual one we had WITH STAR WARS and its incredible success to the point to settle down once for good new standards with immense influence on the whole Hollywood film scoring community within the next 20 years (1977>1997)...before Hans Zimmer (once again him) changed it all one again (THE ROCK, LION KING)!
As we said, it changed it all in the late seventies. Maybe for the best, maybe not, this is the issue....
As a friend of mine told me, without STAR WARS, I wouldn't get from my other heroes MOONRAKER, THE BLACK HOLE, STAR TREK TMP, POLTERGEIST, STAR TREK II and III, KRULL, LIFEFORCE and other symphonic sci-fi glories just to name that genre...and that's true.
The question is: was there another film score in place of STAR WARS that could have done the job of changing it all? This we will never ever know.
It's trivia allright but don't forget that 20thCentury Fox moguls at the time in late 1977 put in the forefront for promotion their other scifi vehicule with which they had greater expectations, DAMNATION ALLEY, and did not believe that much in the success of STAR WARS...
The rest is history.
Imagine just a minute a world where DAMNATION ALLEY would have been a better movie with clever plot and strong characters plus avant-garde special-effects instead of its "clumsy everything except the Landmaster", and STAR WARS a boring B-series scifi with no plot or characters,we maybe would have Jerry Goldsmith DAMNATIN ALLEY score settled down as a new standard??
John Williams' STAR WARS will remain, whether we like it or not, the most influential score of the last 45 years. But who's the genius in this affair; only John Wiliams or also George Lucas who gave him the assignement? What score would we have gotten if he had given that assignement to Jerry Goldsmith or somebody else?
STAR WARS was a much faster action medley onscreen experience for sure than anything else previously available...and John Williams completely understood the pace and adapted his style to this swachbuckling drama, with alos great and memorable themes throughout.
Not my favorite score, not my favorite John Williams' score and style, but he is a genius for sure.
The question is: was there another film score in place of STAR WARS that could have done the job of changing it all?[...] John Williams' STAR WARS will remain, whether we like it or not, the most influential score of the last 45 years. But who's the genius in this affair; only John Wiliams or also George Lucas who gave him the assignement?
I think the score for STAR WARS is really good and very expertly created by someone who was deeply steeped in all of the classical and film music that he drew inspiration from. While the film's success was largely catalyzed by the score itself, I think the score also matched the film's tremendous amount of vision and creativity. DAMNATION ALLEY was nowhere near STAR WARS and so without George Lucas and all the people around him, I don't think the opportunity for a groundbreaking score to occur would have existed.
I think Williams' temperament was better suited for STAR WARS than Goldsmith's - and I think you can look at the influence of scores prior to STAR WARS to get a pretty good idea of the alternate universes you ponder. I don't think any other score would have been as wildly popular since it didn't really happen before.
2) He is a very humble, soft spoken and appreciative man who seems to love his fans
This level of generosity is very meaningful to me as well, and can be found all throughout his career as heard in anecdotes shared in Mauricio Caschetto's interviews. He has a tremendous respect for music, the history of music, musicians, and their skills. He puts a tremendous amount of work into composing and constantly searching for ways to give musicians opportunities to shine.
Which ties into one of the great things I admire about Williams is that he is very dedicated to learning, and it's a mutual, collaborative process. A lot of interviews with musicians he has worked with circle around similar stories of Williams working to give them opportunities to let their instruments shine, for which Williams puts a tremendous amount of effort into learning about the instrument so that he can actually write for them. In some cases, this process may take years, which also ties into Williams' humbleness, which I really respect.
His dedication to classical music, practicing constantly at home, writing concert pieces, attending Tanglewood - all of these are very admirable because it is a level of deep commitment that is so rare in a time when so many aspects of culture are disposable. That he is so dedicated to keeping an art form that has constantly been under threat of extinction is quite admirable.