I have stressed in several of my reviews how much a great score can contribute to a film. A great composer can take what they see on screen and translate that into music, amplifying the emotion or set the atmosphere. Having been a musician myself, I have a deep appreciation for the time and effort that goes into music making. As a result, I tend to really listen to a film’s score and get into the emotion of it (or try to anyway). Whenever I go into a film and I see that John Williams is the composer, I know I’m in for a musical treat. He is without a doubt my favorite film composer. Williams knows his way around the heart of a film and can strengthen it like few other composers can. He can capture strong and powerful or soft sweet and everything in between. He can create tension, making you scrunch in your seat, or alleviate it, and bring you closer to the characters. Alright, enough about my musical man-crush, here are my five favorite John Williams movie scores.
5) Harry Potter 1 – 3
I was a part of the Harry Potter Generation. It may not have been as big for me as it was for others, but I still really enjoyed the series, both the books and the films. For the longest time, I never realized that Williams was the composer for the first three Harry Potter movies. It wasn’t until it showed up on my film scores playlist on Pandora that I was like, “Holy smokes, no wonder I like it so much.” Although the Harry Potter films may be one of Williams more recent scores, it has quickly become just as iconic as some of his previous scores. I would say the Harry Potter theme has become almost as recognizable as any others on this list.
Remember in the introduction when I mentioned a music can help set the atmosphere? I was mostly referencing this movie when I said that. Jaws is a good movie, but it is the score that makes it great. It helps create a tension the film would otherwise lack. The signature Duuuunnn duuunnn is enough to send a chill down anyone’s spine, even if they are nowhere near the water.
3) Indiana Jones series
I couldn’t tell you what exactly draws me towards the music of the Indiana Jones series. Every time I hear it, I want to jump on a horse and ride into some booby-trap infested temple. Then I remember if that if I were to enter that kind of place I wouldn’t make it through like Indy, instead I would be like Satipo (Alfred Molina). With each film in the original trilogy, the music gets better and better. But none of it beats the Raiders March, the theme song that carries through all movies.
The score of Jurassic Park will always put me in a good mood, no matter how I’m feeling. Few movie scores can really fill me with emotion the way this one does. Every time I hear the Jurassic Park theme, I can’t help but think of the opening shot of the park itself with several dinosaur species roaming around the open field and getting a drink from the lake and the late Richard Attenborough saying “Welcome to Jurassic Park.” It is so grandiose I am just filled with a strong sense of positive emotion almost instantaneously.
Star Wars has had a huge impact in cinema. I would say the original trilogy one of the reasons I am the cinefile I am today. At the heart of all the films (including the next trilogy) is Williams’ score. I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but every time I hear any piece of music from any of the Star Wars movies I get swept away. The highlights for me are Duel of the Fates from The Phantom Menace and Battle of the Heroes from Revenge of the Sith. Both songs completely capture the emotion of the lightsaber duels on screen and is the pinnacle of what the amazing John Williams is capable of.
Come back tomorrow for the Movie Quote of the Week and the answer to yesterday’s Movie Whose Line (which you can guess here). What is your favorite John Williams film score?