Author Topic: John Wiliams' "Missing Scores" for TPM and AOTC?  (Read 902 times)

Offline DoctorPadawan

  • Jedi Apprentice
  • *
  • Posts: 1957
  • Get that poison out of your system
    • View Profile
John Wiliams' "Missing Scores" for TPM and AOTC?
« on: June 5, 2004, 02:08 PM »
First of all, and I'm sure I'm not alone in this, I love John Williams' musical scores in the SW films, and in the majority of his non-SW work.  Even his low-key scores, such as the one for "A.I.", are absolutely incredible and carry as much emotion as the on-screen action, and any fan of SW (or movie music in general) should have his scores in their CD collection.

I absolutely adore the RCA Victor releases of the Special Edition soundtracks: two discs for each film, in sequential order, with all kinds of bonus tracks, unreleased cues, and unsurpassed liner notes.  Those three double-disc sets are among my most loved SW items in my collection and I listen to them on a regular basis.  Sure, they weren't as complete as they could have been ("Lapti Nek", the Yub Yub song, and the Rebo Band source music from just after the Boussh thermal detonator scene aren't included), but they are an absolute treasure to fans of the films.

That said, I have been less than thrilled with the presentations of TPM and AOTC on CD thus far.  Not only have tracks been slapped together that have little or no relation, not even thematically, some of the most memorable cues from the films have been ignored completely (such as Anakin's breakdown in AOTC with the soaring Sith theme blending into the Imperial March).  I do enjoy the soundtracks a good bit, as there are some incredible pieces of music on there, but compared to the RCA Victor releases of the OT:SE, they come up way short.

(I will say that one thing I love about the AOTC CD is that it does include a lot of music that wasn't in the film, mainly during the Speeder Chase and the Arena Monster Battle.)

Sony tried very poorly to follow up on the OT:SE work with a TPM "Ultimate Edition" that was marketed to make people believe it was along the lines of the SE soundtracks.  When it was released, people quickly realized that it was nothing more than an isolated score, and still featured the choppy editing and abrupt transitions that plagued Williams' score in the film.  People, myself included, were outraged, as Sony had led people to believe it would be one thing, were intentionally vague when asked questions about specifics, and once it was released, tried to cover up by saying "we never said it was all that was recorded, just that it was "every note from the film."  Thank goodness they didn't give AOTC a similar treatment, as the music editing in that film was 10 times as worse as TPM's.

Now, I know the reasons for the score in TPM, particularly during the four-prong final battle, being as choppy as it is due to Lucas reediting the final reel after JW had done the score.  And I know that in AOTC, Williams didn't even score a lot of the Clone War because he knew it was not finished and his work would probably wind up like TPM's.  But what I don't get, with all the money Lucas has at his disposal, is why Williams isn't given the chance to rescore both TPM and AOTC's endings so the music won't sound like a temp track.  Give him and the LSO some extra money to stay around for a week after the recording session for Episode III (or come in for another session ala Howard Shore for the LOTR:EE DVDs) and let things be set right.

After that, let RCA Victor have the rights to all the soundtracks and let them release two-CD complete scores of all three prequels the right way.  For all Lucas goes on about sound being so important and how much he loves John Williams' work, he has really torn it apart with the prequels and it'd be great to hear things as JW intended them to sound.

SilverZ

  • Guest
Re: John Wiliams' "Missing Scores" for TPM and AOTC?
« Reply #1 on: June 6, 2004, 12:47 AM »
For all Lucas goes on about sound being so important and how much he loves John Williams' work, he has really torn it apart with the prequels and it'd be great to hear things as JW intended them to sound.

You nailed it there, I totally agree.

The poor treatment and discourtesy that film score seems to be receiving by Lucas and Ben Burtt has always shocked me. Burtt, regardless of his talent as a sound designer, has been a terrible influence on the PT sound mix. The score that is in the film rarely, if ever, has a chance to stand out, since itís constantly pushed behind the effects tracks. Add on top of that George Lucasís control-freak attitude, which has allowed himself to believe he is as much a musician and composer as well as writer and director, has resulted in the over-edited and mismatched score in both movies.

Itís an insult and waste of the talent of probably the most diverse musical composer working today. I commented to my friend, after having watched Harry Potter last night, that his music is as fresh and inspired as ever.  Not only have perfectly good cues been cut (in AOTC) but the reuse of TPM score in certain areas is completely inappropriate Ė witness the Trade Federation March slapped over the Clones reveal. Itís thematically incompetent and purely the work of Lucas/Burtt. I often wonder how much the two prequels could have benefited if only Williamsí score were allowed to flourish.

Thereís no reason why they canít go back and do further scoring sessions. Also, there are probably alternate and unused cues already recorded that, with Williams further (and respected) opinion and participation, could be reinserted with much better results.

The good thing is that Williams is a notoriously detailed archivist of his work. When Warner went back to remix Superman, the only elements of the soundtrack in any useful condition and up to modern standards was his score, in which his multi-track sessions had been carefully stored along with his original notes. Maybe someday weíll be treated to something similar for the PT.

Offline DoctorPadawan

  • Jedi Apprentice
  • *
  • Posts: 1957
  • Get that poison out of your system
    • View Profile
Re: John Wiliams' "Missing Scores" for TPM and AOTC?
« Reply #2 on: June 6, 2004, 11:41 AM »
Quote
Not only have perfectly good cues been cut (in AOTC) but the reuse of TPM score in certain areas is completely inappropriate Ė witness the Trade Federation March slapped over the Clones reveal.

Yeah, that was one of the cues that really bothered me when I saw it in the film.  With the way it goes from the Obi-Wan/Jango asteroid chase into that piece of music, I assumed that the TF March was going to be in a scene with Obi-Wan looking through his binoculars at a ridiculously large amount of Battle Droids being loaded onto waiting ships.  The theme had already been established as representing the TF/Separatists and to stick it in a scene with the reveal of the Clone Army on Kamino made no sense to me whatsoever.

You know, as much as I admire Ben Burtt's work on the sound design of the six films, he doesn't respect John Williams' work at all, given, as you pointed out Tydirium, the burying of what remains of JW's score in the prequels thus far.  It's like he's saying "I rule and you suck" to JW by making his own work more audible.  The only person there that seemed to have any sense when it came to sound design/mixing was Gary Rydstrom (who actually did mix TPM and AOTC with Burtt and Lucas standing over him) and he's just left Skywalker Sound to work full-time with Pixar.

I remember reading on a message board a year or so back that there was going to be a featurette on the AOTC DVD called "F**king with the Film Score" which would consist of ten minutes of John Williams cursing like a sailor about the hack job perpetrated on his work in the prequels thus far.  It was a joke, but it was really funny to even think about.

The man is a musical genius (who can't remember all the wonderful music he's done over the years; Indy, SW, Jaws, E.T., Superman, etc) and the way his work is being treated in the prequels is an unadulterated shame.

Oh, and love your avatar Tydirium.  "I see you rolled your way into the semis...dios mio, mahn."  (I would quote some things a lot funnier but you know how that goes). :)

Offline Scott

  • Staff Member
  • Jedi Guardian
  • *
  • Posts: 18352
  • Get Some
    • View Profile
    • JediDefender
Re: John Wiliams' "Missing Scores" for TPM and AOTC?
« Reply #3 on: June 7, 2004, 11:25 AM »
You guys have both pretty much nailed it all, Burtt is an ass for thinking that the music is second tier to his sound FX and the guy seems to have an ego the size of Rhode Island.  Lucas should be ashamed for treating Williams the way he has on the Prequels.  

On the flip side though, besides Duel of the Fates...what new piece of Music has really stood out as being jaw droppingly awesome like many of the OT themes were.  I really like Anakin's Theme and the Love Theme from Episode II but most of the stuff is just blah.  

I'd love to hear him go back and rescore the ends of TPM and AOTC...hopefully EpIII doesn't suffer a similar horrible fate

SilverZ

  • Guest
Re: John Wiliams' "Missing Scores" for TPM and AOTC?
« Reply #4 on: June 7, 2004, 10:13 PM »
I didn't know Rydstrom was actually that involved with the mix. What a surprise. I guess I never noticed because Burtt is always hogging the limelight.

I remember reading on a message board a year or so back that there was going to be a featurette on the AOTC DVD called "F**king with the Film Score" which would consist of ten minutes of John Williams cursing like a sailor about the hack job perpetrated on his work in the prequels thus far.  It was a joke, but it was really funny to even think about.

Now that's a supplement I'd pay to see. He would certainly have the right to curse like a sailor after hearing what they've done to his music.

And F'in' Quintana will return soon, but for now, it's all about oatmeal. :)

Quote
I really like Anakin's Theme and the Love Theme from Episode II but most of the stuff is just blah.

I'd still like to see him rescore and be left to his own judgement, but I had a new thought:

I'd just been thinking a bit more about Williams and his great scores versus his "just there" scores. Is it me, or does his music really soar when the visuals soar to the same levels? And when they fail, itís because the movie on-screen is failing, too.

For example, the truck chase at the end of Raiders is almost 13 minutes long, each moment of it thrilling, inspired, and unique -  and its buttered over with an amazing, astounding score that emphasizes, summarizes, and brings new layers to all of the emotion, character, and events that are taking place. When a movie is good, he seems to really go to town and express every underlying emotion and character element that relates to whatís on screen.

That said, look at Phantom Menace. His score is justÖ there. It sits there with just as much indifference as the audience watching the movie. He never really finds great themes to develop, emotional arcs to illustrate through themes, nothingÖ and I think itís because the material on-screen doesnít have any depth for him to work with.

It almost seems that if heís not emotionally invested in the characters and events of a movie, his score shows it.

Offline DoctorPadawan

  • Jedi Apprentice
  • *
  • Posts: 1957
  • Get that poison out of your system
    • View Profile
Re: John Wiliams' "Missing Scores" for TPM and AOTC?
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2004, 11:42 AM »
Quote
I didn't know Rydstrom was actually that involved with the mix. What a surprise. I guess I never noticed because Burtt is always hogging the limelight.

Yeah, he did the final sound mix on both TPM and AOTC.  On the second disc of the DVD of TPM, during "The Beginning", you can see him during the final mix manning the boards.  But, as I said earlier, Burtt and Lucas are literally standing right over top of him to make sure that pesky music can't be heard over the laser blasts. ::)

I'm actually really glad that Rydstrom got a full-time job with Pixar, as the work he's done on their films has been nothing short of incredible.  If you have the Toy Story "Ultimate Toy Box" 3 DVD set, listen to the isolated sound effects track on TS2 and tell me that he couldn't give Burtt a run for his money when it comes to sound design.  Actually, I'm wondering if Burtt does a lot of new sounds for the prequels or not these days, considering the documentary on the AOTC DVD about sound shows Matthew Wood as the guy going out and getting new sound effects.

I don't mean to sound as if I don't appreciate what Burtt has done, sound-wise, for the SW saga.  He's done some absolutely brilliant work and has been responsible for some of the most memorable sound work in film history.  My problem is that he seems to think that his sound effects are the most important thing in the film, and the work of others, particularly John Williams, should take a backseat to his ego.

Quote
It almost seems that if heís not emotionally invested in the characters and events of a movie, his score shows it.

Yeah, I've noticed that too.  At times, the score is great, particularly when it either involves characters that JW is familiar with from the old films (Sidious, Yoda, or Vader), or when it's a thunderous piece of music/fanfare (the TF march or DOTF).  When it is a new character theme (Jar Jar comes to mind), the music just falls flat.  

And speaking of recurring themes, where is Boba Fett's theme from TESB?  I realize it was just a low bassoon playing a few bars, but with all the importance based on leitmotiv in the SW scores, I figured it, and the Droid theme for that matter (R2 and Threepio) would make some kind of appearance.

The thing I find highly interesting about JW's work on the prequel scores thus far is that he has yet to really speak about them.  Even the videotapes of the SEs had some comments from him on the inclusion of the new end celebration themes in ROTJ, but so far, neither of the prequel DVDs have said much of anything.  They show a few snippets of the recording sessions, and that's it.

I wonder if they would wind up with a "F**king with the Film Score" documentary had they talked to him?