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

*Read John Williams’ biography here

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
This film, released in 2004, is the third in the Harry Potter series (following Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets). The movie is based on the book of the same name by author JK Rowling and is directed by Alfonso Cuaron. The series stars Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson in the leads with supporting roles by many well-known actors including Gary Oldman, Michael Gambon, Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman.

This installment follows Harry Potter’s third year at Hogwarts where he is told that an escaped prisoner from Azkaban, Sirius Black, who they believe to be one of evil Lord Voldemort’s followers, is wanting to kill him.

The score was nominated for an Academy Award and a Grammy but failed to win (losing to Finding Neverland and Lord of the Rings: Return of the King respectively).

The music in this movie isn’t quite as light as the previous two, but this is also a darker movie than the earlier ones. Williams included medieval influences in the music and the lyrics of one theme, “Double Trouble” (performed by the children’s choir in the Great Hall early in the movie) , are from a ritual performed by the Weird Sisters in Act 4, Scene 1 of Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

This was the third and last Harry Potter score to be composed by Williams, although many of his themes live on in the rest of the Harry Potter movies. In particular, the famous “Hedwig’s Theme” (below) which is the dominant theme of the movies and is easily identified as the main theme for Harry Potter. Even though it is called “Hedwig’s Theme” it doesn’t specifically represent Hedwig, rather the wider concept of magic and the wizarding world.

I love the Potter books and movies so this is one I have seen many times. And Hedwig’s theme is one of my top favourite of John Williams’ themes and I think he’s successfully written a theme that sounds quite magical. I also like the way the theme is tweaked slightly for each iteration (it is used in all the Harry Potter movies and the spinoff Fantastic Beasts movies).

Is Hedwig’s Theme as magical to you?

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

  1. Giggling Fattie

    April 30, 2019 at 9:43 pm

    WHAT?!?!? This was literally my alarm on my old phone!!! I. Had. No. Idea! This guy did so many different things! Wow wow

    Great challenge AJ! Congratulations on finishing!

    • I love that we get to the end of the alphabet and you discover you are a John Williams fan too! I hadn’t thought of using this as my phone alarm, but it would be fantastic to wake up to that music. Brilliant idea, GF.

  2. Giggling Fattie

    April 30, 2019 at 10:22 pm

    I don’t have it on my iPhone but I should redownload it. It’s such a great wake up song!

  3. This is really sad. Of all 26 movies, I’ve only seen the original Star Wars.

  4. This is the most beautiful and magical of his Harry Potter scores – and actually, my favourite of all eight of them, although he will always be remembered for Hedwig’s theme, no matter what else is in those scores, just as we all remember the main theme to Star Wars, no matter what other tunes he composed for that.

    Yet AGAIN he missed out the awards! (Eyeroll!) Look, I might agree that Return Of The King was competition – Howard Shore is a very similar composer anyway – but Finding Neverland? A nice movie, but who watches it any more let alone listens to the music? Can you remember any of the score from that film? I can’t!

    Thanks, AJ, this has been an enjoyable series of posts!

    • Yep, Hedwig’s Theme has become “Harry Potter”. I am stunned he didn’t get an award for this over Finding Neverland, but at least he was nominated I guess.

      I’m glad you’ve enjoyed it, Sue =)

  5. Well done! Williams is a pretty amazing composer…

    • Thanks, John. I am in awe at what he’s achieved. Quite a legacy for the movie industry.

  6. Congrats on making it to Z! Take a deep breath, path yourself on the back, and then right the next post!

  7. It’s definitely a magical tune 🙂

    I saw this movie twice in the theater. I don’t often do that. It was a good one.

    • I’ve never seen a movie more than once in the cinema. If I’d seen Fantastic Beasts (the first one) I would have been tempted, but I didn’t see it until it was on DVD.

  8. The end of April got kind of crazy, and it took me a while to catch up! I love this theme from Harry Potter. And you did such a great job with A to Z! Thank you for adding some wonderful music to my month 🙂

    • Thanks, Jenny. I know what you mean by crazy. I am waaaay behind on my blog reading from the end of the month. Sadly I think the year will only get crazier…

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