Would Star Wars have worked without John Williams' music?

Discussion in 'Star Wars And Film Music' started by Darth-Lutgerous, Jun 22, 2005.

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  1. Darth-Lutgerous Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 24, 2005
    star 4
    At the AFI Lifetime Achievement Award tribute to George Lucas, Lucas said that Star Wars wouldn't have worked without John Williams. Do you agree with him? What has really made Star Wars music so memorable? What are your thoughts?

    I believe Star Wars would not have worked. John Williams provided us with some of the best musical themes of all time in all six Star Wars movies. Without his music, I think that people would not be able to feel the emotion in Star Wars. He did something that I believe no other living composer could do.
  2. Son-Of-Suns Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 18, 2000
    star 4
    Well I'd say that a lot of sci-fi scores before Star Wars weren't as orchestral as Star Wars, but were more synthesized. Without an orchestral score there's a good chance Star Wars would have just become another sci-fi B-movie, but John Williams gave it a real epic scope and in a sense, made it more legitimate (just as Alec Guinness added more legitimacy to the picture.)

    And like that...he's gone.
  3. nisomer Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Mar 1, 2004
    star 1
    i agree, it would not have worked at all. in empire of dreams, lucas said that the only thing that went right in the making of star wars was the music, and in fact it was better than "right", it was waay beyond his expectations.
  4. redsabreanakin Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 16, 2005
    star 5
    Who knows..It's a good question in hindsight. Now I believe myself that watching a movie has 3 categories. The film, the sound, and the score. The film speaks for itself. The sound, as it relates to my films of choice, something in the action/adventure genre or sci-fi or the like. Obviously films with lots of dialogue, exposition, and character based don't really count but you get the gist of what i'm saying. The score is very important in my opinion (i guess i picked this up from my Dad who listens to classical music). The score is 50% of the movie for me, so that plus the rest usually make a great film.

    I think the music in SW is some of the best music ever written for film, and i realize that is hugely debateable; but I'm biased in my sheer admiration for everything Williams. I (as with a lot of you) grew up with the series and saw them when they were first released, and his opening bars just sucked you in right from the start. He created so many memorable themes and sounds that went along with the action, as well as the dialogue, that it would be difficult to separate the two from each other. I listen to the soundtracks on a very regular basis (I'm listening to ROTS as i type this). Listening to as many soundtracks as i do..you wonder what it would have been like with someone different.

    Now who was big back when it all started?..goldsmith, barry, bernstein,...and help us..even horner. I think each of them would have created something great (well...maybe not horner..we would have heard the same thing over six movies). I especially think goldsmith and barry would have made some very memorable music. (kinda makes you wonder who was Lucas' backup). It's easy to say Williams made the movies work cause we've heard it so many times and it just plain works.

    I do think the films would have worked without the music. As it is...Star Wars has always been a visual feast for the eyes; as much as we have come to love the characters, but the opening shot of the destroyer, flying down the death star trench, the ignition of a lightsabre, luke and leia swinging across the chasm..i think that's what really captured our imaginations. There were (and are) many very good composers out there; and each one would have put their own interpretation on it obviously. I think the movies would have continued to be great even with a different score; we hear it all the time now. The reviewer (who actually bothers to mention the score) may say the music was this or that...but the movie is still good. It would be interesting to hear some other ideas.

    For me personally..as i Kid i probably wouldn't have cared; the films would have endured...Looking back on it now...would i have ENJOYED them as much...probably not. Williams did bring something special..That soundtrack was huge in 77; i mean people bought if for a reason (of course everyone was buying everything SW at the time) cause it did add something to what we saw. My personal enjoyment and whether the films would have worked are two different things. I'm certaintly glad no one other than williams did the score (we must praise Spielberg as well), but i think another composer of that time might have made some fine music.

    an interesting question.
  5. RurouniKJS Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2005
    star 2
    No. It would not have worked. Consider the stories of the initial, "friends-only" screening that lacked the score (or even a temp track) if I recall correctly. Lucas' peers thought it was an absolute disaster in the making. But once Williams' score was included, along with finished effects, opinions about the film rose (if not all that sharply).

    Imagine the "Use the Force, Luke!" moment without that music. The effect is completely different and perhaps another composer wouldn't have been able to do it justice.

    Finally, were any other living composers at the time writing in any sort of leitmotivic manner? 'Cause the themes are what makes SW scores really sing.
  6. Rogue...Jedi Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jan 12, 2000
    star 7
    I think one must define 'work' in this case.

    I think SW would have been a successful movie even without Williams' music, but with someone elses. That said, I don't think it would be the same SW we all know and love, because his music has become an integral part of it now.

    On that note, the prequels would never have worked without him.
  7. Jedi-Washington Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 3, 2003
    star 4
    On that note, the prequels would never have worked without him.

    [face_laugh] Yeah, probably not. I must admit it's the thing I've enjoyed the most about the prequels so far. Especially with this last one. Talk about an emotional score.

    I think star wars without his work is unimaginable. Almost anyone can humm the opening fanfare. It's just such an integral part of star wars. It's like saying would it have been star wars without light sabers? or star wars without the neat effects? It's just not really imaginable. Another composer might have been able to do a score, but it's not something you really think about. The way it is is about as emotional and as close to perfect anyone is going to get this music. And with the quality of music williams has dished out for this series in comparison to some of his scores definately shows that he has a connection to this series also. I'm not saying any of his other scores are bad, if he had 6 movies to mess with themes from any of his scores, he could get them polished up enough to be as beautiful as star wars scores are.

    It still gets down to lucas and Williams collaborate incredibly well. For as much work as Williams does on the scores, by and large most of it stays in while some directors might butcher a score to death in final edits. Most of Williams work has remained the same or very close to the same. Lucas has a lot of respect for the scores that he has heard from the first day of recording. Music is part of star wars, just as effects and plot are. Lucas is right, it might not have worked out so well without him. He's very lucky to have run into williams, because other wise, star wars might not be the same as we see it today.

    ~JW
  8. Darth-Lutgerous Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 24, 2005
    star 4
    I think I agree with you. The prequels would have probably done a lot worse without the music. It is so enjoyable and fun to listen to that I can't imagine the prequels without it. I can't believe some people in the Classic Trilogy Forum actually wanted Williams to rescore them.
  9. --Darth_Ganondorf-- Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 25, 2003
    star 3
    I think Star Wars would've worked, but not nearly as well without him. I might not have become a Star Wars fan without him, actually. The music was what really got me into it all. I remember watching ANH on VHS as a kid, and just rewinding the scene where the Falcon arrives at the Death Star over and over again. Of course I cared nothing for the actual scene :p, but it was just that thing about that one statement of the Rebel Fanfare and I never grew tired of listening to it. I also don't think some of my friends would have even considered Star Wars if they hadn't heard the music.
  10. JedimasterMoon Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2005
    star 4
    It would have been good,but not as good.
  11. Darth-Lutgerous Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 24, 2005
    star 4
    Without the music, I don't think the movies could've captivated us all. For example, the beginning sequence of A New Hope, the titles and the rebel blockade runner and star destroyer, wouldn't be as effective without the music there. I can't see any other composer writing a convincing opening montage for that movie.
  12. PadmeAm Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 2005
  13. Wester547 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 5, 2004
    star 4
    Well there is Howard Shore but I'm not sure he's quite the right Composer for something like the Star Wars Saga...
  14. Darth-Lutgerous Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 24, 2005
    star 4
    Howard Shore is a great choice. I agree with you. But Star Wars??? [face_thinking]
  15. Noelie Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 11, 2005
    star 4
    This is a great thread. I think I go to movie for the Score :)

    I believe the premis is right. The movie in part made it because of the "take me seriously" score.
    George Lucas himself said that for ANH, the only that that always met or exceeded his hopes all the time was the score.
    I am, thanks to all of you even going back and listening more carefully. I believe that John Williams was given great information of the direction of the films and gave us clues all along as he learned them.
    He is a great composer/conductor.
  16. Jedi_Cyrus Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jul 14, 2005
    John Williams did the job quite nicely. Anyone else may have screwed it up.
  17. JEDY Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 26, 2005
    star 5
    Music is one of Star Wars' high points. Fantastic, why i'm listening to it everytime i'm on the council . Great job done ! =D= .
  18. MR_YODA_ Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jul 12, 2005
    star 1
    Well, Ep. III is the first movie soundtrack I have ever purchased. John William's score is memborable.
  19. plokoonkenobi77 Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jul 12, 2005
    star 2
    no way
    john williams is just as much a part of the sw saga as lucas
  20. dntbotherangel Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jul 19, 2005
    I also think that without John Williams' music StarWars would of ended being just another SciFi Movie...but maybe just to a center extent. Every time I here the certain songs in the movies like Obi vs Anakin towards the end of ROTS, it just gets me pumped up.
  21. darthramzafft1 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 24, 2005
    star 1
    No, it would not have worked.
    Can you imagine the Binary Sunset without, well, Binary Sunset?
    NO!
  22. CountCuckoo Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 30, 2005
    star 4
    It definitely wouldn't have worked
  23. celestasia Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Jul 26, 2005
    I think George Lucas, could have found a way to make the movies emotionally powerful despite not having the helping hand of John Williams. It might not have done,as well, and I doubt it would have been asemotionally impacting. It also probably wouldn't have made as much money, but people were starting to get interested in scfi, at least on tv, again so it's plausible that it could've worked. If Star Trek, which managed to flop come back, get canceled, and then become a sensation after resyndication, certainly Star Wars could have worked. Also, it depends on what the other composer and his music was like. But one thing's for sure: it wouldn't have been as good without John Williams.
  24. darkknight_152002 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2003
    star 5
    I honestly believe it could, but GL would have had to be selective with the music. For instance, Wagner's Prelude to Act I of "Lohengrin" would have made an excellent Force Theme.
  25. darkknight_152002 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2003
    star 5
    Lucas, being a revolutionary, obviously preferred Williams' work, but I think Star Wars could have worked without Williams, but he would have had to be selective with his options. However, had Kubrick directed it, he could have easily used "needle drops"* for the scores. If you look at his three most notable films--2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, and The Shining--he did a superb job making film adaptions with fantastic scores. His films featured items composed/arranged by Purcell, Beethoven, Rossini, Johann Strauss II, Richard Strauss, Khachaturian, Bartok Penderecki, and Wendy Carlos. Star Wars could have been like this had Lucas given Kubrick his notes and the text to A New Hope--and it's merely my speculation, of course.

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