People always talk about wanting their life to be like a movie, or how certain movies are time capsules for particular moments in our lives. If we're talking in fantastical movie-related hypotheticals, I've always wanted my life to be like a John Williams score. Epic, attention-grabbing, memorable, full of personality, moving, etc. Virtually any conversation you have about movie music should contain a Williams mention, especially when discussing any movies that were released after 1970.
"Lincoln" is Williams' latest addition to the oeuvre, and with it comes a terrible rumor that this particular score will be his last before retirement. And yes, at the tender age of 80 years, the man has more than earned a very extended vacation, but I'm just not ready to accept his retirement. The only way to deal with that anxiety is to revisit his unforgettable body of work to appreciate the Williams scores that are so ingrained in our psyche that their very recognizable themes are as memorable as the films themselves.
1970s: OG Blockbuster Benchmarks
I didn't start to appreciate Williams' work until I saw "E.T" and "Raiders of the Lost Ark," but that doesn't mean that his legendary musical composition for "Jaws," "Star Wars" (the original theme rocks of course, but the "Imperial March" is my personal favorite) and "Superman" is lost on me. You only need to hear the first few notes of any of those scores to be transported to a place of terror, a galaxy far, far away or Metropolis. The theme music from each of those films is so recognizable that they've taken on their own pop culture meanings and parodies when used or referenced in other works.
1980s: The Alien/Indy Years
Nothing made me happier this year than when in celebration of the release of the "E.T." Blu-ray, Paramount released the most wonderful behind-the-scenes feature I've ever seen: Williams sitting at his piano writing the music for the 1982 movie with director Steven Spielberg in the room listening and providing feedback. And although my mom messed up my Spielberg/Williams chronology by having me watch "E.T." before "Raiders of the Lost Ark," the Indiana Jones theme is the first one I remember being obsessed with and humming around the house. And much like his work with "Star Wars," all three Indy scores shared the same epic and playful DNA and complemented one another.
1990s: Innocence Lost
This decade is my sweet spot for movie sentimentality, especially when it comes to Williams-scored films like "Home Alone," hel-looo unforgettable theme blended with holiday music, and one of my favorite movies of all time, "Hook." This musical suite from the film should light the nostalgic switch for my fellow fans, as well as my two personal goosebump/tear-inducing favorites: "Oh there you are Peter!" and "You Are The Pan".
2000s: Onward and upward
Nothing can top my love for Williams' work in the 90s, although his "Harry Potter" scores come pretty darn close. If you were an early adopter of the books before the movies were made, think about the first time you got a glimpse of that teaser trailer and all you heard were those truly magical opening bars of "Hedwig's Theme," how wonderfully perfect and exciting was that?!? My other favorite in this decade is the jazzy composition for "Catch Me If You Can" because it's just so fun. His most recent works aren't my all-time favorites but they were worth mentions in Best Of lists for 2011 here and for 2012 here.
Please don't retire yet, Mr. Williams! There are new "Star Wars" movies on the horizon!
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