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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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The Temple Of Doom
First heard in: Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom (1984)

Steven Spielberg described the chant that accompanies the Temple Of Doom as the "only music effective enough to knock the hat off of Indiana Jones' head." By the time we get to this point in the movie, we are too far into the subterranean depths to hear the Indiana Jones theme, all the familiar comforting themes are out of earshot. Instead, as Mola Ram (Amrish Puri), high priest of the Thuggee cult, prepares to sacrifice a helpless victim to the god Kali, we are subjected to a Sanskrit choral chant, booming timpani and metal percussion that eventually find heart racing form, building pace and intensity to an ear shattering climax. Recorded before the shoot it became producer Frank Marshall's job to make sure the on-set drummer kept time with the playback as the actor had a serious lack of rhythm —the Making Of footage is hilarious. Unique within the Indiana Jones musical canon, Williams returned to the idea of a Sanskrit chant for The Duel Of The Fates in Episode I.

Listen to an excerpt:


Plowing
First heard in: War Horse (2011)

Introduced in the first War Horse trailer, Williams theme to represent the growing bond between farm boy Albert (Jeremy Irvine) and farm horse Joey (Finder) is amongst the loveliest stuff he's produced in ages. Powerful and majestic, it does that Williams (and Spielberg) thing of feeling grand and intimate all at the same time. When the melody rises through the horn section, it's a hair-stands-up on-end moment.

Listen to an excerpt:


Leaving Home
First heard in: Superman The Movie (1978)

Few composers can mark a rite of passage like Williams. As Clark Kent discovers the call of a generative green crystal and realises he must leave Smallville to fulfil his destiny, Williams takes a small Family/Smallville theme the score has been noodling with and turns it to something grand and gorgeous as a mother and son part ways.

Listen to an excerpt:


The Cowboys Overture
First heard in: The Cowboys (1972)

Directed by Mark Rydell, The Cowboys was one of the last cattle drives for John Wayne as a grizzled rancher who, after his cowhands go off in search of gold, enlists eleven schoolboys to trail his herd to market. Williams music, kicking off with blazing horns, effortlessly evokes the wide-open spaces of the old west and the thrill of a cattle drive but also pulls in an almost nursery rhyme feel to the tune to identify his juvenile cowpokes. It's a fun, good natured piece that proved important in Williams' career: along with The Reivers, it was the music that put Williams front and centre in the mind of Steven Spielberg when he was considering composers for his debut, The Sugarland Express.

Listen to an excerpt:


End Credits
First heard in: Born On The Fourth Of July (1982)

Williams' first collaboration with Oliver Stone is symphonic work on the biggest canvas. As with their next collaboration, JFK, the music is suffused by a real sense of America yet also full of Stone's sadness and regret, this time reflecting his feelings about Vietnam and the fallout for the veterans after they returned home. From the very first note, this contains some of Williams' most impassioned music, the emotion coming through in everything from the massed string section to the solo cornet. Williams has used music describe some of the key wars of the 20th Century but few of his scores attain the level of tragedy and loss-of-innocence as this.

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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