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Feature
80 Reasons Why John Williams Is The Man
We mark the movie maestro's 80th birthday with a celebration of his classic pieces

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Out To Sea
First heard in: Jaws (1975)

As an entire score, Jaws is so much more than its trademark two-note theme, full of different textures and moods. To score the Orca pulling out of the Amity harbour to begin its sea quest (no DSV), Williams signals the start of adventure with a horn motif, then segues into part sea shanty/part Irish jig that is as playful as anything that Williams has ever created. When you compare this to some of the film's darker tones, it is this kind of range that won Williams his second Oscar.

Listen to an excerpt:


The Hunt
First heard in: Jurassic Park The Lost World (1997)

Eschewing the awe and wonder theme of the first movie, Williams signature tune for the JP sequel takes on the feel of an epic trek into a particularly dark jungle. It has a deliberate majesty in its Main Theme arrangement but Williams delivers an amped up version to cover Roland Tembo (Pete Postlethwaite) and his hi-tech hunting team on a dino safari, the driving drums, slapping percussion and manic strings adding real spirit and energy to the chase. A brutal, brilliant battering of the eardrums.

Listen to an excerpt:


The Tale Of Viktor Navorski
First heard in: The Terminal (2004)

Composing music for comedy is a tricky business. It can either be so brazenly dramatic that it plays as parody or it can be so light and jaunty it can quickly get irritating. Williams score for The Terminal, Spielberg's comedy about immigrant Viktor Navorski trapped in an airport after a coup in his homeland Krakhozia, is neither. Instead, Williams creates a score infused with cultured classicism, using a clarinet, accordion and guitar used to invoke Eastern European musical traditions and the immigrant experience. Viktor's theme is impish, innocent and spirited but never hokey. Williams also created a faux national anthem for Krakhozia, one of those dour Eastern European dirges that you only hear at the Olympic games, that is pitch perfect.

Listen to an excerpt:


Abandoned In The Woods
First heard in: A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)

Over the years, Williams has written numerous themes to depict child parent separation — some bittersweet (The Phantom Menace) some nightmarish (Close Encounters, Empire Of The Sun), some sweeping (Superman The Movie). But none of these themes capture the emotional anguish of parting than A.I. Artificial Intelligence. Under a string backdrop that rises and falls like tempestuous waves (glimpsed in the opening of the film), a pressing menacing melody amplifies the wrench as Monica (Frances O'Connor) dumps her 'robot son' David (Haley Joel Osment) in a forest rather than face certain destruction, discordant piano strikes heightening the unease. This is at the complete opposite end of the musical spectrum to something like Home Alone and his A.I. score is indicative of the sophistication Williams was developing as he moved into the noughties.

Listen to an excerpt:


Dry Your Tears, Afrika
First heard in: Amistad (1997)

The dialogue heavy Amistad, Steven Spielberg's slave mutiny drama, meant there was little place for Williams' music to count. Despite such restrictions, he still came up with a memorable score. To represent the African strands of the story, he tastefully employed regional African voices and instrumentation — the movie opens and closes with a haunting vocal that comes to represent Djimon Hounsou's Cinque. To illustrate John Quincy Adams and the American legal system, Williams uses noble brass and stately strings. The film's big anthem is Dry Your Tears, Afrika, a life affirming setting of a 1967 poem by Bernard Dadie that mixes 50 authentic voices with strident brass.

Listen to an excerpt:

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Have Your Say
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Your Comments

1
freaking Lapti Nek is here but no Battle of the Heroes? Can we please stop pretending that the Prequel soundtrack is no good just because RLM doesn't like the films? More

Posted by NeoBrowser on Saturday May 4, 2013, 10:57

2 RE: RE:
Thank you sir. Your kind words will keep me sane when I get locked up for libel! More

Posted by Rob on Tuesday February 14, 2012, 11:22

3 RE: RE:
L: Rob Or more likely Darth Tax-eVader * .gif]ee what I did there?! *for humorous purposes only and in no way shape or form was it meant as a slander on his character. Just mediocre wordplay is all.ote]   py07.gif]py07.gif]   ert of Mirth, I salute you More

Posted by JIm R on Tuesday February 14, 2012, 11:10

4 RE: RE:
Or more likely Darth Tax-eVader * .gif]ee what I did there?! *for humorous purposes only and in no way shape or form was it meant as a slander on his character. Just mediocre wordplay is all. More

Posted by Rob on Tuesday February 14, 2012, 10:51

5 RE:
L: howie71taylor A master composer and what a back catalogue. Did you know Tottenham Hotspur FC walk out to "Duel Of The Fates" for every home game? sp; rry dress up as Darth Maul ? More

Posted by JIm R on Tuesday February 14, 2012, 09:41

6 A true genius
Just about every film he's been involved in has been improved greatly by the soundtrack, sometimes subtle but always worthwhile. A great old fashioned genius, long may he reign as King of the soundtracks. Excellent article :) More

Posted by jamiecfc on Monday February 13, 2012, 15:13

7 Indy's Very First Adventure - The Last Crusade
Cracking cue ploughs along with the train chasing Indy all the way! More

Posted by wayne302919 on Monday February 13, 2012, 11:10

8 Departure of Boba Fett
Fantastic cue ending in four huge blasts from the whole orchestra - gob-smacking! More

Posted by wayne302919 on Monday February 13, 2012, 10:59

9 Short Round...
There's a moment in Temple of Doom's end credit music that literally has the Raiders March & Short Round's theme playing AT THE SAME TIME and perfectly complementing each other - how ingenious is that?! More

Posted by wayne302919 on Monday February 13, 2012, 10:46

10 Gasps of astonishment...
I once played Temple of Doom's Mine Car Chase to a friend of mine - a grade six flautist - she ran out of the room gasping!! More

Posted by wayne302919 on Monday February 13, 2012, 10:39

11 RE: We're gonna need a bigger list...
With any subjective list, the temptation is to point out anything that's missing, as opposed to what's there. So, let's get mine out of the way now: - Throne Room / Medal Ceremony from A New Hope? Lapti Nek from ROTJ is there but not this glorious piece of pomp and circumstance?! However, this article is one of the best that Empire has ever produced. Very deep research and clear evidence of passion and understanding of Williams' entire career. The temptation would be to go for the obvious, and I reckon I could come up with 80 highlights from Star Wars, Superman, Indiana Jones alone. Full credit for going beyond the obvious though, and here's another one - the original Lost In Space TV show had a theme tune from John Williams, although then he was still Johnny! My version of the ET soundtrack has Escape / Chase / Saying Goodbye in a beautiful 15min single track that I happened to be listening to when I started reading the Empire homepage today. I'd recommend that everyonMore

Posted by BelfastBoy on Sunday February 12, 2012, 11:19

12 We're gonna need a bigger list...
...but this is a magisterial survey. Superb work by Ian Freer and (presumably) team. I've been here hours, reliving old favourites and making a few rewarding new discoveries too. Thank you to John Williams for so many of the great tunes of my lifetime - and crucially, many happy returns! More

Posted by Dextraneous on Sunday February 12, 2012, 01:01

13 Thank You Empire
What an amazing feature, fitting tribute to someone as massively talented as John Williams More

Posted by james dean on Sunday February 12, 2012, 00:54

14 Wow
the man is amazing.....I will be testing my friends More

Posted by Paddy Kieran on Saturday February 11, 2012, 21:41

15 Thank you so much
Delighted to see The Towering Inferno titles and the Empire asteroid chase on here. Brilliant, thanks. More

Posted by Schnorbitz on Saturday February 11, 2012, 20:10

16 Amazing Feature for an Amazing Man
Ian Freer hats off to you, this is the best feature Empire's ever done, online or off, and I salute your encyclopaedic knowledge of the great man. And what a man. His music has lifted me so high, so often. Magic from start to finish. More

Posted by BondVsPredator on Saturday February 11, 2012, 14:44

17 RE: 80 Reasons Why John Williams Is The Man
Awesome feature Empire! It is a tribute to the Maestro that you can list so many great tracks and there are still bucket loads more that immediately come to mind: the main theme from "Jane Eyre" and the "Lowood" theme; "Cadillac of the Skies" from "Empire of the Sun"; "Dorinda's First Flight" from "Always"; the Main Title from "Dracula"; the "Call of the Crystal" from the last Indiana Jones monstrosity (that we shall mention no further). I bought the double cassette of Star Wars in 1977... then the double fold out LP... then I was hooked. Thanks John Williams for a lifetime of hummable tunes that work for just about every occasion in life! More

Posted by mellowwellowmann on Saturday February 11, 2012, 11:26

18 Thank You
I really enjoyed this. so many memories, so many wonderful pieces of music! More

Posted by orazzak on Saturday February 11, 2012, 10:06

19 A Humble Genius
Having had the pleasure of meeting him many years ago, he was most humble when I thanked him for the joy he he brought to my life. He said it was his pleasure. From Star Wars to War Horse, no one has brought more to the world of film music than John Williams, and may he continue to produce masterpieces for many years to come. Thank you Empire for THE BEST FEATURE EVER!! More

Posted by ddumbell on Saturday February 11, 2012, 04:26

20
A master composer and what a back catalogue. Did you know Tottenham Hotspur FC walk out to "Duel Of The Fates" for every home game? More

Posted by howie71taylor on Saturday February 11, 2012, 03:32

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