Archive for John Williams
At the recent STAR WARS Celebration event, the news was unscrolled about the upcoming Blu-ray box set (with deleted scenes):
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (August 14, 2010) – Today at Star Wars Celebration V, Lucasfilm Ltd. and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment announced that the complete Star Wars Saga will come to Blu-ray Disc with a worldwide release in Fall 2011. The Star Wars Blu-ray Box Set will feature all six live-action Star Wars feature films utilizing the highest possible picture and audio presentation, along with extensive special features – including documentaries, vintage behind-the-scenes moments, interviews, retrospectives and never-before-seen footage from the Lucasfilm archives.
“Blu-ray is the absolute best way to experience Star Wars at home – in pristine high definition,” said George Lucas, creator of the Star Wars Saga. “The films have never looked or sounded better.”
To seal the geek deal, they presented a cut scene that would have been Luke Skywalker’s reveal in RETURN OF THE JEDI (1983) — in a word, it’s awesome, connects THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK fully to the story, and Luke even looks like the Emperor in his robe. I LOVE the tilt down to him rebuilding his light saber, prepping to save Han Solo, and a future challenge to Darth Vader. This single beat gives ROTJ an entirely new tone from the outset (though I do like Luke’s first appearance in the film).
I’ve always said Mark Hamill has never received enough credit for the series, and it’s strange to read sub-ironic putdowns of his performance today from some quarters. Funny that we all loved him in all three at the time and actually, he’s the only character to have a full arc across the trilogy; Hamill perfectly segues from Luke’s “gee whiz” teen qualities to his more confident, impatient warrior in TESB to his fully developed Jedi Knight in ROTJ. It’s just a scientific fact that the emotional high point of RETURN OF THE JEDI is the moment when Luke and Darth Vader clash light sabers in silhouette as John Wiliam’s operatic chorus rises, signifying the duo’s destiny at its peak. If we didn’t believe in Hamill’s intense, sincere performance, that scene would never have worked. Nor would the films. As for this clip, I love the cheering and “woo woo”s from the crowd — it reminds me of how people used to react to the STAR WARS films, the best communal audiences I’ve ever experienced in a theater. Now, about releasing those original pre-digitized versions of the trilogy…
In light of author J.G. Ballard’s passing, I thought FST would turn its cinephelic eye on Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of his novel EMPIRE OF THE SUN, easily one of the best, most underrated films of the 1980’s. I was particularly taken by the young Christian Bale, who gives a phenomenal and Oscar-worthy performance. EOTS is a real 1960’s Road Show style epic, missing only an intermission, and while it tends to structurally fall apart towards the end, there are many great moments, including my favorite, this haunting, moving scene with Bale, an airplane fanatic, winding through a Japanese prison camp and his confrontation with three airfield pilots. Spielberg is the master of cinematic emotional goosebumps, and this is the last time that one of his scenes elicited those full body tingles from me, but what a way to go…
One of my favorite movie theme songs like ever is this fantastic groovin’ ditty by The Turtles, with music by Johnny Williams when he was writing loungecore soundtracks for 1960’s Hollywood trifles. A GUIDE FOR THE MARRIED MAN (1967) is one such Playboy-era relic, directed by Gene Kelly with an all star cast including Walter Matthau (who passed on SKIDOO to do this!) and featuring lots of zoom-ins to the female anatomy. I liked the film for one major reason, this title song with a killer bass line and The Turtles’ ultimate “ba ba ba ba” chorus. Here’s a rare video clip of them acting the song out on the late great “Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.”