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Comments about the soundtrack for A.I. (John Williams)

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Re: Williams had been overrated again.
• Posted by: Alex Lee   <Send E-Mail>
• Date: Friday, August 10, 2001, at 7:47 p.m.
• IP Address:
• In Response to: Re: Williams had been overrated again. (MeloManiac)

I think MeloManiac is right in the sense that Williams is one of very few who consistenly writes interesting music. Personally, with the exception of THE LOST WORLD, I have been generally very satisfied with his scores lately. The problem I am having with Horner is that a lot of his music sounds the same, and he uses same chord. I think the same thing can be said about Williams music to the extent that when you hear it, you go 'Of course, that's so John Williams.' But the way he does is by distinctly creating his own style, where as with Horner, I actually find a lot of his more interesting music sound the same. At the same time, I think Horner's also done some incredibly boring work (don't get me wrong, I enjoy about half of his soundtracks quite a bit), but I just don't fine that extra spart in his music that I do in Williams. For instance, SLEEPERS is a haunting score by Williams, and it'll give you chills; SHINDLER'S LIST make you very sentimental and emotional; and HOOK will make you incredibly nostalgic. With Horner, I find I only tend to identify with the kind of emotions I had felt watching the movies, and not too much beyond.

Jerry Goldsmith is a whole another story. The distinction I find between Williams and Goldsmith is that Goldsmith cares equally about cues and music working in the film as Williams does. (For instance, listen to BASIC INSTINCT by Goldsmith -- I've never heard orgasm so well orchestrated). But the reason I would rank Williams above Goldsmith is because Williams tends to, somehow, also come up with catchier melodies while letting the music work in the film. Goldsmith doesn't really go for cute-and-catchy tunes, but he goes for epic themes (e.g. MULAN). And epic themes might work better in the films, but when you listen to the CDs, you're more accustomed to catchy tunes. In this sense, I consider Williams' score more commercial (for better or for worse).

ENNIO MORICONE -- he used to be my favorite composer, and I agree that three films in particular (ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA, CINEMA PARADISO, and THE MISSION) are timeless. But I feel like he hasn't made any other scores lately that match up to the standards set by these three. If you can suggest me some, I'd be happy to try it.

All in all, I am not saying every score Williams writes is better than any of his peers' work; but I think to an extent it is safe to say that nobody writes with the consistency of producing great work as Williams does. Academy Award is not a good measure of judging soundtrack's worth, and for this reason, I do agree with Levente's comments.

Hope this added some insight.

Alex Lee

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