Sunday, December 3, 2017

Composing Greatness: #27. John Williams - "Hook" (1991)

Scene from Hook
Welcome to Composing Greatness: a column dedicated to exploring the work of film composers. This will specifically focus on the films that earned them Oscar nominations while exploring what makes it so special. This will be broken down into a look at the overall style, interesting moments within the composition, and what made the score worth nominating in the first place. This will also include various subcategories where I will rank the themes of each film along with any time that the composer actually wins. This is a column meant to explore a side of film that doesn't get enough credit while hopefully introducing audiences to an enriched view of more prolific composers' work. This will only cover scores/songs that are compiled in an easily accessible format (so no extended scores will be considered). Join me every Sunday as I cover these talents that if you don't know by name, you recognize by sound.

Series Composer: John Williams
Entry: Hook (1991)
Collaborators (If Available): Leslie Bricusse (Lyrics)
Nomination: Best Music, Original Song ("When You're Alone")
Did He Win: No

Other Nominees:
-"Beauty and the Beast" - Beauty and the Beast *winner
-"Belle" - Beauty and the Beast
-"Be Our Guest" - Beauty and the Beast
-"(Everything I Do) I Do It For You" - Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

Additional Information

This is to help provide perspective of where each composer is in their Oscar-nominated life as it related to the current entry.

Oscar Nomination: 29
Oscar Wins: 4

Track List

Exploring the Music
The area of the column where I will explore the music in as much detail as I see fit for each entry.

Theme Exploration:
"When You're Alone"

The early 90's were an interesting moment in John Williams' career. In the pre-Schindler's List days, he clearly had a knack for family movies. Speaking as he had great success with E.T., it's hard to see why not. Here he returns with Leslie Bricusse for a song that captures a familiar nuance not unlike his previous Best Original Song nominee for Home Alone. Here, he tackles minimalism to create an uplifting song of a child singing in wonder and awe. The production is beautiful in all of the ways that Williams music needs to be. It manages to feel small while longing for something bigger. It's evident that Williams doesn't need bombast to win over audiences, and it's why he remains one of the best composers out there.

Did This Deserve an Oscar Nomination?:

I will admit that it's not my favorite of John Williams' song nominations. I prefer his work on "Somewhere in My Memory" to this, but that doesn't mean that the song is lacking. In terms of movie songs, it captures something ominous and different from the other nominees. Songs this quiet deserve more recognition, if just because of how tender the emotional cues can be. I don't think it has the rhythmic essence of better Williams songs, but it has the heart and execution that is necessary to feel the power of what the song is going for. This is an example of what he can bring to music that goes beyond the bigger and grander numbers, and it helps it to stand out as something special. 

Up Next: JFK (1991) for Best Original Score

Best Theme

A ranking of all themes composed by John Williams.

1. "Flying"- E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) 
2. "The Raiders March" - Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
3. "Main Theme (Theme From 'Jaws')" - Jaws (1975)
4. "Theme From 'Superman'" - Jaws (1978) 
5. "Prologue/Tradition" - Fiddler on the Roof (1971)
6. "Main Title and Mountain Visions" - Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
7. "Theme From Born on the Fourth of July" - Born on the Fourth of July (1989)
8. "The Dances of Witches" - The Witches of Eastwick (1987)
9. "Track 01" - The River (1984)
10. "Main Title/The Ice Planet/Hoth" - Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
11. "Main Title" - The Towering Inferno (1974)
12. "Main Title/Rebel Blockade/Runner Medley" - Star Wars (1977)
13. "Wednesday Special (Main Theme)" - Cinderella Liberty (1973)
14. "Suo Gan" - Empire of the Sun (1987)
15. "Main Title/First Introduction/The Winton Flyer" - The Reivers (1969)
16. "Finale and End Credits"- Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
17. "River Song"- Tom Sawyer (1973)
18. "Where Did My Childhood Go?" - Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969)
19. "Theme from 'Valley of the Dolls'"/"Theme from 'Valley of the Dolls' - Reprise" - Valley of the Dolls (1967)
20. "End Credits (Raiders March)" - Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
21. "Home Alone Theme" - Home Alone (1990)
22. "Main Title (The Story Continues)" - Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi  (1983)
23. "Opening Titles" - The Poseidon Adventure (1972)
24. "Main Theme" - The Accidental Tourist (1988)
25. "In Search of Unicorns" - Images (1972)

Best Song

A ranking of all Oscar-nominated songs composed by John Williams.

1. "Somewhere in My Memory" - Home Alone (1990)
2. "Nice to Be Around" - Cinderella Liberty (1973)
3. "When You're Alone" - Hook (1991)
4. "If We Were in Love" - Yes, Giorgio (1983)

Best Winner

A ranking of all winners composed by John Williams.

1. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) for Best Music, Original Score
2. Jaws (1975) for Best Music, Original Dramatic Score
3. Fiddler on the Roof (1971) for Best Music, Scoring Adaptation and Original Song Score
4. Star Wars (1977) for Best Music, Original Dramatic Score

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