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Comments about the soundtrack for The Empire Strikes Back (John Williams)

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Re: Better than Episode IV
• Posted by: Dave
• Date: Wednesday, March 9, 2005, at 1:23 p.m.
• IP Address:
• In Response to: Re: Better than Episode IV (Kokas, the Frog)

It's obvious to everyone that Star Wars borrows heavily from Holst and Wagner. Nobody will argue against that (if they're being serious).

But what the hell is this: "John Williams just writes good themes, nothing more."

Are you out of your f***ing mind?

Williams is (in most people's opinions, including mine) the best composer alive at composing themes, but he's also one of the top 2 or 3 at underscoring the mundane moments in a movie. Star Wars is not a good example of this, since just about every moment in the movie features a character or concept he has written a brand spanking new theme for. His incorporation of leitmotivs is what defines Star Wars, practically.

Many of Williams' other scores feature excellent underscoring without the use of leitmotivs: if you can buy the Hook bootleg, this is probably the best example available. There are a total of 35 cues on it (with a good array of thematic ingenuity and great underscoring), and maybe 3 of them aren't great.

Compare that with an average movie score which has one hastily penned main theme, a dozen cues of discordant atonal whining on brass and overly-simplistic string writing, and then a finale cue which sums up all the cues into one horrific ending.

As much as I think Horner is a derivative hack (whose scores hurt movies more than they enhance them), he is very accomplished at writing simple, string-dominated underscoring. Occasionally he'll throw in a four-note "evil motif." He should just stick to what he does best (producing best-selling songs with crappy singers who stretch an octave too high to simulate emotion) and leave brass-writing and thematic excellence to someone who can handle it. John Debney, John Williams, Danny Elfman, John Ottman, Michael Giacchino, Alan Silvestri, James Newton Howard... to name a few.

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