What’s that you say? Something isn’t right? One of those doesn’t belong? Which one? You say John Williams does not belong in that illustrious group? Why not? They are all incredible musical minds who composed fantastic pieces of art which tell stories, and illicit strong emotional connections from the listener. So why does he not belong? Oh I see. He is just a FILM composer. For Shame.
You know what, i’m sick of it. The great composers of our time not given their due, as if creating for hollywood is somehow a lesser medium than an Austrian theatre full of the “cream of society” rattling their jewelry in applause. The only difference between a classical composition, and an orchestral score for a film, is that the accompanying movie removes the ambiguity of meaning embedded in the music after it leaves the mind, pen, and paper of the artist.
The score of Jurassic Park stands alongside The Magic Flute with its chin held high. A beautifully poignant juxtaposition of nature and mans interference with it, that makes Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter And The Wolf cringe in terror. The combined efforts of Burkhart Dallwitz and Phillip Glass play right alongside Chopin in The Truman Show, and they give Beethoven something to mull over on the subject of creating emotional discomfort in the listener. Or at least they would twer he still among the living and interested in the modern goings on and career movements of Peter Weir.
All film fans have their favourite scores and favourite composers. Williams is an ex- jazz musician. Danny Elfman, a founding member of Oingo Boingo. Randy Newman used his acerbic wit to write pop songs before beginning compositions for film. Is this why they are not takien seriously? And their work only listened to and appreciated within the confines and context of the films for which it was written? No, because there are any number of classically trained musicians writing for film and television who do not share such traits.
Music itself, is loved and engaged in the world over, and even the worst pop songs achieve cult status when they are unsophisticated drivel compared to film compositions. The problem comes in when the music is coupled with a movie. Hollywood is seen as an every man indulgence. While the “movie stars” live it up in their “limosines” and “swimming pools” nothing stands in the way of John Q. Averagesen enjoying the latest Harrison Ford thriller on a friday night. The “It’s just a movie” attitude permeates heavily, and so the artistry and hard work of craftsmen and talented people that goes into making them what they are, whether that be the music, or pyrotechnics, or props department, are dismissed as “a means to an end”. And not a true art form in and of themselves.
And so it is left up to the film fans to buy the soundtrack albums, and relive their favourite movie moments over – through the music, while others miss out, and ignore fine pieces of art because of cultural snubbery, and elitist dismissal. Mark Snow wrote a simple theme for The X-Files, and with nought but the chord progression and a cheesy echo sound effect, brought to life the fears and insecurities of people around the world. An aural experience that distills terror and unknowing into a few notes. And anyone who can not appreciate that is not a fan of music at all.
Will the music ever be appreciated and respected on the level it deserves? Maybe, one day. But in the meantime, next time you go to see a film, take pause [and do it during the credits instead of rushing out to be the first to get to your car] and listen to the score, written, created and orchestrated to assist you in feeling an emotional connection with a film, and realise that just like an inspired choice by a costume designer who influences fashion trends, or a script writer who takes what was a scientific concept pondered only by the few, and brings it into the mainstream consciousness, that music in film can have a life outside its context. And can be recognised for the artistry, and expression of human emotion it is. Because most of the so called great pieces of music from classical composers, were commisioned, and paid for, by churches, monarchies or governments, in order to help people visualise and comprehend a story.
Oh, and Alan Silvestri always did the best scene endings, Cue Violins…