December Sun – A Web Comic

February 13, 2009

The People vs. George Lucas

Filed under: 3,film music,george lucas,john williams,star wars — admin @ 12:08 am

I think that this is just awesome. It’s a film about people’s gripes with George Lucas.

What I’d love to see in this, which probably won’t be addressed, is how Lucas totally ruined the music of John Williams in two of the prequel, ‘Attack of the Clones’ and ‘Revenge of the Sith’, by the constant reuse of his music, cut and pasted from other unrelated films. ‘Attack of the Clones’ featured music lifted from ‘Phantom Menace’, whereas ‘Revenge of the Sith’ featured music taken not only from ‘Phantom Menace’, but also from ‘Empire Strikes Back’(!)

To fans of Williams, this was a huge disappointment of the prequel films, hearing the same music cut-n-pasted into the film again, but I can’t imagine that this is going to be a big enough concern to be addressed in the film. More than likely, it’s Jar-Jar that will be one of the biggest rants. Sometimes it seems like I’m the only one who notices the issue with the music, but I can’t help but speak out about this. To me, the music is one of the most principle things of the Star Wars films. When I found out about the new prequels, one of the things I was most excited about was the new John Williams score, not necessarily that there would be a younger Obi-Wan and Anakin character in the film.

And to it’s credit, the score for ‘Phantom Menace’ is remarkable, and doesn’t have a lot of cut-n-pasting (although it does feature some reused music, such as the ‘leaving Naboo’ musical clip, which seems to resurface a few more times in the film, as well as in ‘Attack of the Clones’). But it’s only when you get into ‘Clones’ and ‘Sith’ that the reuse of music is constant. If you’re a fan of the music, and you’re sitting in the theater watching these films for the first time, you can’t help but pick up the fact that the SAME music has been recycled back into the film again. And instead of being treated to an all-new musical score, Lucas is just feeding back more of the same music again.

I can’t imagine that this was John Williams’ idea to keep reusing musical material like this, and I can’t understand how Lucas, supposedly having a genuine appreciation of Williams and his music, wouldn’t notice the blatant reuse of all the music and say, “Whoa, let’s give John some more time, to write some more music for this sequence.” I have a suspicion that Lucas devoted more time to the computer animation department than to the crafting of the music, but this is just speculation.

Even more remarkable to me is that Spielberg allowed the same practice to take place with the ‘Indiana Jones/Crystal Skull’ film. Spielberg has worked with Williams on dozens of films, and yet he didn’t notice, or care, that music was being cut and pasted from other, older Indiana Jones films and used for Crystal Skull?

I’m trying to see this through the eyes of the producer: there is going to be a demographic of film-goers (albeit a small demographic) who want to see a film largely for it’s music, not necessarily it’s acting, story, or anything else. And instead of just taking the stance of, “I will, for whatever creative reason, copy and paste music from a different film”, I’d be more along the lines of thinking: “let’s give the composer more time to write his music”, or, worse, case, “Let’s find another composer with a similar sound who can score these scenes in the film where the music is lacking (due to our delayed computer animation department or whatever)”. The final product would be far more rewarding, and there wouldn’t be a sense of reheating and reserving the same music again.

Well, whatever. I think this is probably the last time Williams will score a Star Wars or Indiana Jones film, so this won’t happen. But what a rotten way to cap off the legacy, with having your music recycled.

January 27, 2009

“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”, John Williams, and Reused Music

Filed under: 3,indiana jones,john williams,movies,music — admin @ 8:52 am

Once again, following in the tradition of “Attack of the Clones” and “Revenge of the Sith”, George Lucas has again produced a film, “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”, in which a good chunk of the musical soundtrack is comprised of reused music from other Indiana Jones films. I sortof knew that this would happen going into the film, as this seems to be Lucas’ operational style these days: take music from other films and cut-n-paste them in, and no one will be the wiser, or will notice the reused music in the film. Well, that is, except for fans of John Williams who know most of his music by heart.

But what’s troubling this time is, part of the music sounds like it was taken and reworked by Williams himself (namely, the “flight from Peru” music) that’s heard briefly in the film. Now I’m left wondering if this cut and pasting was all Lucas to blame, or if Williams willingly had a part in this as well?

Regardless, the new music (not the cut-n-pasted music) was an absolute disappointment in “Crystal Skull” and sadly was completely unmemorable. The brief reappearance of Marion’s theme was a nice touch, but was just too brief throughout the film (and why wouldn’t we hear Marion’s theme when she first reappears in the film? During that sequence, all we hear is awkward musical silence?) More of this, and more variation thereof, would have been great.

Also, throwing in the “Ark of the Covenant” theme at the warehouse sequence made no sense to me. I remember hearing the music in the theater and thinking, “The Russians are going after the ark! That’s…. sortof strange, since this film is supposedly about a crystal skull.” But no, now, apparently, the “Ark of the covenant” theme is now just “the Warehouse” theme. The logic there escapes me.

As for the rest of the film score, I’ve tried to listen to it isolated from the film repeatedly, and try as I might, I just can’t get into it. It doesn’t have the emotional appeal that the other Indy scores had (even awful films like “Temple of Doom” have absolutely remarkable segments of music to them.)

What’s puzzling to me is that Steven Spielberg, who I thought was a fan of Williams’ music, would watch the final cut of this film and not notice, “hey, that’s the same music from ‘Last Crusade’! [the sequence when Indy picks his hat up off the CGI anthill was taken from the boat sequence at the beginning of Last Crusade]“. I mean, didn’t I read once that Spielberg collected Williams’ music and was a fan of it? Wouldn’t he be just a little puzzled to have directed a NEW film, but with rehashed music in it?

Whatever. The glory days of John Williams, the greatest composer ever, are gone, and I’ll always be a huge fan of his music, but this last outing of Indiana Jones was, musically, a huge disappointment.

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