A to Z Challenge: S (John Williams’ film scores)

*Read John Williams’ biography here

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
This iconic 1977 movie, today regarded as one of the most important films in the history of motion pictures, was written and directed by George Lucas. Starring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and James Earl Jones the movie evolves around a galactic war where the Rebels are fighting against the Imperial forces from the Galactic Empire, a tyrannical army intent on destroying civilisations across the universe.

Steven Spielberg recommended Lucas use John Williams to compose the soundtrack. Lucas wanted the music to give the audience an emotional familiarity in contrast to the foreign worlds they would see visually. He wanted the score to have a grand sound so he collected his favourite orchestral pieces for the soundtrack. Williams convinced him an original score would be more unique and unified, which is what ultimately happened.

However, some of the pieces scored by Williams were influenced by the orchestral pieces originally gathered by Lucas, for example, the “Main Title Theme” (below) is inspired by the theme of the 1942 movie Kings Row.

Not surprisingly, the movie won the Academy Award, Golden Globe, British Academy Film Award for Best Original Score, a Grammy Award for Best Album of Original Score for a Motion Picture or Television Program and a Saturn Award for Best Music.

I have always believed the soundtrack is hugely important to a movie’s success. Hearing the music from a score can send me back to that movie and evoke emotions from the scene. To highlight how important the score is, especially a score by someone as skilled as John Williams, I have included additional clips below the main theme.

SPOILER ALERT (just in case there is anyone who hasn’t seen it)…the second clip below shows the final scene of the movie stripped of its soundtrack (it has been dubbed with minimalist effects). Without Williams’ fanfare (the scene with the music is in the third clip for comparison) the scene becomes really odd, awkward and quite funny – and not in a good way. John Williams’ music tells the story and makes this a powerful scene.

I’ve always thought the soundtrack played a huge part in the enjoyment of a movie. Do you agree?

Star Wars Theme
The final scene – without Williams’ music
The final scene – with the scored music

15 comments on “A to Z Challenge: S (John Williams’ film scores)

  1. While I am not a Star Wars fan, the music is certainly catchy and iconic, and I do like Harrison Ford – will actually feature one of his movies in an upcoming post 🙂


    • The music is definitely iconic. Even people who have never seen a Star Wars movie recognise the music.

  2. Giggling Fattie

    April 22, 2019 at 11:00 pm

    I had NO idea he did this music!! Ooooo that’s awesome!!! I’m not sure why I’m so excited over this but here I am haha

    • There are two more iconic movies to go in the selection I have for the rest of the alphabet. I’ll be interested to see if you knew he scored those. One in particular has very well known music.

  3. Giggling Fattie

    April 23, 2019 at 8:49 am

    I’ll have to look out for them!

  4. Because S had to be Star Wars. There was no way it couldn’t be.

  5. Whenever I hear this music, I am transported back in time to the movie theater where I first saw Star Wars. The theater isn’t there anymore, but the music is immortal 🙂 Love it.

    The throne room scene without music cracked me up…especially Chewbacca’s groans.

    • Oh my gosh, wasn’t that funny! When you watch the movie you don’t think about how there really is no dialogue – at least I didn’t until it was pointed out by that clip.

  6. Oh, me also, Jenny! The cinema is long gone, but I remember that first time and how the music swept me away.

    AJ, absolutely the music is a vital part of any film. Even the original version, before the score is written, has a soundtrack of existing music to give the composer some idea of what was wanted. Poor Alex North, writing a score for 2001, only to have them decide the existing soundtrack worked so well they were going to keep it!

    I bet there are plenty of people out there who hear “Thus Spake Zarathustra” and just think, “Oh, that’s the tune from 2001,” without ever k pnowing how it started.

    • We didn’t have a cinema in town when I was growing up so I didn’t really get to see many movies as a kid. Not until I was a teenager and we got a video player. I did see some at the drive-in at the next town (like Crocodile Dundee).

      I did not know that about 2001. I agree, poor Alex North, all that work!

  7. I’m feeling uncultured. This is the first film you’ve written about that I’ve actually seen. Way back in high school.

    I need to get out more.

  8. Wow! Very specific theme. I love it.

    My wife is the biggest Star Wars fan I know. So much so that we got married on May 4. STAR WARS DAY.

    Thanks for dropping by my blog.

    • That is dedicated! The biggest fan I know is The Hub’s friend who is a Storm Trooper in the 501st Legion.

Comments are closed.