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 Post subject: The Magic of the Music - John Williams and Star Wars
PostPosted: Fri Dec 15, 2006 11:37 pm 
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Who can't remember when they put on the soundtrack for the first time and listened to the first notes of the main theme that took you by surprise and jolted you into the world of Star Wars - a magical place of many worlds and strange beings and endless possibilities... and an adventure beyond imagination, with heroes and villains and everything in between in a marvelous mix of movie magic.

I remember my first time... well... actually... I got scared the first time... so I'm basically talking about the second time... to be truthful... the movie frightened me oh so terribly and gave me nightmares for years - or so does hindsight tell me - but even before I revisited the world again as an eager 8-year-old begging my parents to rent it on video and them being reluctant at first, but eventually swayed... I can tell you... IT WAS MAGIC.

Interestingly enough... it was impossible to rent A New Hope, so I was introduced to the world of Star Wars with The Empire Strikes Back and then followed by Return of the Jedi... up until that point in my life I had not really been very interested in normal movies... and was mostly interested in cartoons and Superman. As with many others my life was changed in that one fateful day... and it has dominated my life ever since. For the longest of times... I forget how many years, but it felt like an eternity... I searched and searched for a copy of A New Hope... only seeing bits and pieces of it here and there... so that movie took on a kind of almost spiritual quality to me, even before I saw it, as it was something so hard to come by that it had to be really special... when I finally saw it - I guess about two to five years later... it blew my world again... I couldn't believe it... here was the world I had been introduced to at the age of 4, which scared the living shit out of me... and re-introduced to again four years later... and it was amazing... utterly amazing. That one movie means more to me that most other stuff... A New Hope... the beginning of the magic.

I fell in love with the characters, the tension, the smart dialogue and the way they interacted with each other... and then there was Vader... lovely, evil Vader, when he was still a meanie... someone everybody loved to hate... and who doesn't love that outfit, that helmet, that spooky monotone sound of breathing and the sound of his voice.

But... the movie, the imagery, the dialogue... that wasn't all... no... the soundtrack as well was so superb and delicate and strong and full of heart and longing and foreboding. I have loved the music for as long as I can remember... can hardly imagine a time without it. In those days, John Williams did theme-based scores... I am not very good at describing music with the proper terminology... but with music like that... whenever I feel down or sad I just put it on and let it transport me to that Galaxy, far, far away... (or even some of his other scores from that time). It is pure magic. In some of his later scores he has unfortunately gone away from the thematic score and concentrated more on mood & background music instead - abandoning what set him apart from other composers, imo... and his music suffers from it, sadly. I have some of his scores from the late seventies, the eighties and early nineties... but lately I just haven't felt his music caught me the way it used to, with his older scores. Maybe that's just me, I dunno...

Nevertheless... just listening to the OT soundtracks... and it just puts a smile on my face. Now THERE are some masterful compositions and they will stay with me forever! :cheers


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 16, 2006 2:18 am 
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I had the fabulous opportunity last summer to see John Williams conducting the Boston Pops in a concert of his own music. The entire second act was a Stat Wars suite. And if that's not cool enough, the conert was narrated by...wait, wait...the Voice himself, James Earl Jones! It was a fantastic experience to say the least! Magical for sure!


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 22, 2006 7:58 pm 
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Williams had a golden age from about 1975-1985. You are right, his music is often less thematic, especially for the Star Wars prequels. And yet, he often can pull a few surprises out of his modern hat with thematic material that is unparralleled. His scores for Hook and Home Alone 2 are by far better than the movies they were composed for. I suppose some of the prequel scores were a bit of a letdown for me for the reasons you described, yet there are still some really exciting moments in there. Some of those moments are less obvious than the Original Trilogy scores, and the listener has to therefore work harder to appreciate them. But when you look at Williams career as a whole... from Jaws to Star Wars, from Superman to Indiana Jones, from E. T. to, well, Home Alone 2... there is no finer modern composer of music. Period. I have about 25 or so Williams scores. It's my favorite music for obvious reasons.


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