Steven Spielberg and John Williams look back on 50 years of collaboration – The Hollywood Reporter

The adults were grinning like frightened children watching the legendary filmmaker Steven Spielberg and composer John William discussed their amazing 50-year collaboration during the duo’s American Cinematheque celebration at the Writers Guild of America Theater in Beverly Hills on Thursday night – and that’s it. prior to Williams, 90, excited the crowd and surprised Spielberg by rescinding his earlier announcement that he would quit grading films following his latest project with Spielberg, Fabelman’s houseand then another one Indiana Jones movie.

“Steven has a lot going on,” Williams said in response to a question from the veteran music journalist Jon Burlingame about packing it in. “He’s a director, he’s a producer, he’s a studio head, he’s a writer, he’s a philanthropist, he’s an educator. One thing he Not as a man you can say ‘no; came.” After a round of applause from the audience, Williams noted that he knew Spielberg’s late father, Arnold, who worked at Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation until he was 100. I’ll linger for a while!” He added, “Besides, you can’t ‘retire’ from music. It’s like breathing. It’s your life. This is my life. A day without music is a mistake. .”

Spielberg, who was clearly surprised at Williams’ change of plans, cracked, “I’d better work on figuring out what the hell I’m going to do next!”

Amid hand-picked clips from some of the 29 films they’ve collaborated on, Spielberg and Williams discussed how they met (one Universal executive suggested that Spielberg, a director of the film). young actors in need of a composer, and Williams, a promising composer, meet for lunch), how they work together (Williams rarely accepts offers to read his pre-production scripts. Spielberg, instead chose to wait until it was finished, at which point Spielberg said, “John watched the movie, then we sat down the next day, and we just started discussing where it should or shouldn’t be. music”) and they talked about the role of music in films in general and in their films in particular.

“Music is probably older than language,” Williams asserts. “It’s a very important thing to all of us—when we are sad, when we are happy. We don’t know why. It is impossible to know.” As for how he determines whether or not a scene needs accompaniment? “Eventually movie tell we, if we pay enough attention. It is mostly visual.” Spielberg honored Williams’ contributions by saying, “I tell a story, and then John tells the story with music.”

Spielberg had known of Williams’ work before they met, he had worn out vinyl copies of the soundtrack for the reivers, a 1969 film for which Williams scored. When they first sat down together, Spielberg – a film history and film music student whose late mother, Leah, was a classical pianist – “seemed to know a lot about music. cinema than me,” Williams realized, so Williams agreed to work with him. he’s on freeway. They started making that movie in 1972, it was released in 1974, and then a year later jaw, their first truly immortal collaboration. Regarding Williams’ simple but haunting score for that thriller, Spielberg admitted to Williams, “I was scared the first time you played it for me on the piano. I don’t know you well. I think you’re pulling my leg. But Williams hit one thing: “You can play it very small or very fast, or small or loud, so you can manipulate the audience,” he explains.

Music is a central part of the plot of 1977 Close encounters of the third type, with its characteristic five-note melody — appearing after 100 permutations considered — represents a means of communication between humans and aliens. Discussing the year 1981 Raiders of the Lost Ark and in 1982 ETWith their iconic themes, Williams told Spielberg, “You and I always talk about pacing on film,” noting that the addition of music can make four minutes on screen feel like two minutes.

The year 1993 presented two major challenges for both men: Jurassic Park and Schindler’s List. Spielberg was surprised that Williams had scored earlier without the dinosaurs being added through visual effects, but still musically captured the characters’ childlike sense of wonder, at least at the time, played by actors “looking up”. nothing. Williams scores! Jurassic Park while Spielberg started working on by Schindler, marking one of the few times the filmmaker was not present at Williams’ scoring session. About the role of music in by Schindler? “I really don’t have a plan,” Spielberg admitted. When he finally showed Williams a clip, Williams was so emotional that he couldn’t speak for several minutes. “After that,” Williams recounted, “I said, ‘Steven, you need a better composer than me to score this movie.’ And he said, ‘I know, but they’re all dead. Williams’ violin-centered piece ended up being one of his masterpieces, as the film is one of Spielberg’s.

Sometimes, the duo explained, less really is more when it comes to music in movies. They say they never even considered incorporating music into 1998’s famous opening scene Saving Private Ryan, but decided to use trumpets and bass strings to stir emotions in later scenes, most famously at the end of the silent and reverent choir. “Musically, it honors all veterans, both today and yesterday,” Spielberg said of Williams’ composition for that film, “and that’s why the military always asks. Can they play this song?”

The hilarious main series of 2002 Catch me if you can brought Williams back to his roots as a jazz pianist in the 1950s, and Spielberg was a jazz enthusiast who frequented jazz clubs as a student at Long Beach State in the 1960s. Williams Scores for 2012 Lincolnwas inspired by 19order America’s music of the century, with trumpets at the forefront, brought Spielberg and Williams – both history students – to tears. But for Spielberg, who has lost both parents in recent years, and for Williams, who has known both of them, Fabelman’s house It is a job unlike any other.

“For me,” Spielberg confessed, “it was the most personal and personal experience of my entire career.” Statement on what would be Spielberg’s mother’s 103rank birthday, Williams said of his scores — which have been nominated for Golden Globes and Critics’ Choice awards — “I hope it’s well-deserved,” Spielberg quickly responded, ” OH that’s right.”

When asked to recap the half century they worked together to make magic in cinema, Williams said of Spielberg, “I enjoyed his companionship, his joy and his gift of inspiration. . Can a muse be a man? He is definitely a muse for me. For his part, Spielberg says working with Williams — “Johnny,” as he calls it — is like an ideal marriage. “I don’t think we’ve ever had a disagreement,” he volunteered, before chuckling adding, “I mean, what am I going to do? Sit down and write your own music? And, he added, causing Williams to choke, “In the art form that we both have chosen, he is the most consistent brother and collaborator I have ever had in my life. And that’s how I summarize how much I love you.”

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