This summer, I’m looking forward to Superman Returns more than any other film. This iteration of the Superman legend will purportedly be a continuation of the Richard Donner/Christopher Reeve films of the late 70s and early 80s. I really loved those films – and still do to this day.
As was the case with Star Wars, a part of the defining experience of the first Superman film was the music of John Williams. To this day, I think about the familiar fanfare and march from Williams’ score whenever I see the triangular-shaped “S” that symbolizes the man of steel.
I was something of an orchestral film score aficionado during my youth. Here are my favorites from those days:
1. The Empire Strikes Back. By far, Williams’ greatest work. More beautiful, original music in this score than what you would expect to find in TWO or even THREE films. Its that good. All of the music that you associate with Yoda, Darth Vader, and the romance between Han Solo and Leia originate in this film. In addition, lots of great music never made it to other films – like the music from the asteroid chase and the music from the battle in the snow. The mournful strings that transition from the cliffhanger ending into the end credits is one of my favorite moments in all six films.
2. Raiders of the Lost Ark. Bet the march from this film is rising into your conscious mind even as you read this, isn’t it? For me, the Desert Chase track and the theme for Marion are just as good. Likewise, the music from the scene where the ark is opened is very powerful.
4. Star Trek: the Motion Picture. Jerry Goldsmith’s main theme, which was never a part of the original series, would define not only the film series but the second TV series. It has now replaced the surreal strings-and-vocals theme from the original program as the theme that people think about when the words “Star Trek” are spoken.
5. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. James Horner’s score for this film, a stark contrast to Goldsmith’s from the first, featured wonderfully over-the-top percussion and screaming french horns. The perfect punctuation for this much darker film.
6. ET. The final scene involving the ascension of ET is made by the powerful Williams score that crescendos as the film reaches its end. Unfortunately, the rest of this score, for the most part, doesn’t offer much that interests me.
7. Batman. Michael Keaton’s character was eerily reflected in Danny Elfman’s dark, brooding melodies. The only end-of-film fanfare that beats this one is the aforementioned score for ET.
8. For Your Eyes Only. In addition to being the best Roger Moore film, this one featured an intense, fusion jazz score that kept the action sequences light and fun. I prefer this type of scoring for Bond action sequences, as opposed to the blaring trumpets that seem to characterize most recent bond films.
Anyone want to add to the list?