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Monday, November 14, 2011

Mr. Williams

Check out this list of Top Ten John Williams filmscores, which actually picks some very interesting scores, including a couple from Williams's very early career. I haven't even heard all of them! There are two here that are completely new to me.

The list's writer, Matt Zoller Seitz, does make a couple of minor errors along the way, but in his defense, only a true film music geek would catch them. (Ahem.) In discussing Superman, he says this:

Williams revamped this score in “Superman II” and “Superman III.” Alexander Courage (“Star Trek: The Original Series) stepped in for “Superman IV” but based his work around Williams’ familiar themes.

This is actually incorrect; Williams had nothing to do with Superman II or III; instead, in a cost-cutting move, the producers had a composer named Ken Thorne come in and provide scores based substantially on Williams's themes from the first film. (With a much smaller orchestra, also, which is why the score to Superman II sounds, well, really bad in my ears.) Thorne would get to do some more original work for III.

And then, in praising Williams's score to Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Seitz says:

Greater still is the moment where Anakin becomes a hero (and the Sith lord Palpatine’s latest catch) by piloting the emperor’s crumbling starship back to Coruscant. Williams superimposes “Duel of the Fates” — the prequel cue that expresses the tension between the dark and light sides of the Force — over the optimistic “The Force Theme,” which we associate with Luke in chapters IV-VI; this cue foreshadows both Anakin’s moral failure in the second half of “Sith” and his belated redemption in the “Return of the Jedi.”

What's wrong here is that the music in question was actually written for The Phantom Menace, and was re-used for this scene in Sith. There are several places in Attack of the Clones and in Sith where music is tracked in from TPM (and come to that, there are a couple places in Return of the Jedi which use tracked-in music from The Empire Strikes Back).

But those are mere quibbles. Check Seitz's list out -- it's a good selection of Williams, and it doesn't always stick to the obvious stuff.

1 comment:

Roger Owen Green said...

Ken Thorne composed the ancillary music for the Beatles movie HELP! If you owned the American version of the soundtrack, you'd have heard them.