A Thought on Film Scores

A Thought on Film Scores

Last week, it was announced that John Williams would be returning to score both Star Wars 8 and Indiana Jones 5 and this made many people very excited. However is this the best thing for both of those movies? Let’s take a minute to think about this.

There is no doubt that John Williams is one of the greatest composers of film scores in the history of film. His compositions include everything from Star Wars to Indiana Jones to Harry Potter and he has won 5 Academy Awards and more than 20 Grammy Awards. His music is the soundtrack to many people’s childhoods, including mine.

However, as a musician, having Williams score yet another Star Wars introduces the possibility of having the music become repetitive and predictable, the absolute last thing the Star Wars brand needs right now.

Some of you may ask “what’s the big deal? So what if the music is repetitive? Most people aren’t going to recognize it anyways.” But the fact of the matter is that people will notice the difference through the scenes. Having truly original music can make a neutral scene something magical and a great scene an unforgettable experience. My example is the Darth Maul fight from Star Wars 1. The movie as a whole is pretty blah and the fight against Darth Maul (the real fight that is) is not the best lightsaber duel from the series but when the soundtrack of “Duel of the Fates” is put behind it, it becomes one of the best scenes of the series (and certainly the best from the prequels).

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My other point is that John Williams is not the be all end all for film score composers and bringing in a new composer to the series could help bring a new breath of fresh air to the series. Lucasfilm is bringing in Alexandre Desplat to score Star Wars Rogue One, a first for the Star Wars films. Desplat won an Academy Award for the soundtrack to the Grand Budapest Hotel and also worked on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 and 2 and the Imitation Game among others.

There are also plenty of other composers that do not have the name “John Williams.” Ennio Morricone, who became famous for his scores for many westerns including The Good the Bad and the Ugly, won his first Academy Award last year for The Hateful Eight soundtrack. Hans Zimmer is another film score composer who has written the scores to the Dark Knight triology, Inception (you know with that BWONG noise that is now in almost every trailer put out today) and the Lion King.

And of course Lucasfilm could always look to video games for a new soundtrack composer. One of my favorite video game series is Elder Scrolls and the last three games in that series have featured soundtracks composed by Jeremy Soule and the music he has made is simply beautiful.

Now let’s bring this back around. I am not saying that having Williams will be a bad thing for Star Wars 8. I, along with many others, believe that the soundtrack to the Force Awakens was magnificent. I’m not saying that Desplat, Morricone, Zimmer, or Soule would be the make-or-break factor for Star Wars 8 either. What I am trying to say is that having a new and different person for a film may not necessarily be a bad thing and could bring some good change to a series. Just because you bring in the same person to do the same job does not mean that we will get the same end result. Sometimes change is good.

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