Spotlight On: The Score Card – Superman’s secret ally
The greatest super-hero of all time has come under siege lately. The Superman love is waning, and it is very difficult to figure out why. When Christopher Reeve burst onto the scene as Richard Donner’s vision of the Man of Steel in 1978 audiences were in raptures. Reversing-time silliness aside, this incarnation of Superman was embraced by pretty much everybody, and suffered none of the divisiveness experienced years later by both Brandon Routh (Superman Returns in 2006) and Henry Cavill (2013’s Man of Steel and most recently Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice).
There is no way Christopher Reeve is THAT much better an actor than Brandon Routh. I mean, Ray Palmer / The Atom in Warner Television’s ‘Flarrowverse’ is utterly charming. And as for Cavill, well, did anyone see The Man From U.N.C.L.E? He was terrific.
No, Christopher Reeve, and his Superman Director Richard Donner (could already be a clue there?) had a secret weapon that none of the modern Superman re-tellings have had. The work of John Williams.
Many film fans will know of John Williams, even if you don’t know his name. You’d have to be living in a remote cave to not know his work.
Go ahead and start humming the Indiana Jones theme. How’d you get on? What about Star Wars? Jaws anyone?
John Williams, composer of some of the most iconic movie scores of all time, has well over 150 film and television credits to his name, from his early work in the 1950s and 60s on shows such as Lost In Space and Land of the Giants, through the big disaster epics of the early 1970s (The Poseidon Adventure, The Towering Inferno and Earthquake) before landing what turned out to be the gig of a lifetime composing the score for a young Director finding his way in Hollywood. That Director was Steven Spielberg. The film, The Sugarland Express, starring Goldie Hawn, was modestly received, but it led to the two working together on Spielberg’s next project, a hokey shark thriller called Jaws (1975).
The video above contains just a brief glimpse into the work of John Williams, and unsurprisingly the films of Spielberg figure prominently.
The Jaws theme is one of the most instantly recognisable movie scores in cinema history, and was just the first such score composed by Williams. As movie fans we should be grateful for his work. If the rumoured Indiana Jones 5 is ever made I know that the first trailers, carrying that Indy soundtrack, will make the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. And don’t even get me started on Star Wars and its most iconic of all iconic musical scores. The Force Awakens teaser trailer released last year almost brought tears to my eyes as the Millenium Falcon soared across a desert landscape to the original Star Wars theme.
John Williams is still busy in the industry today, working on not only a new Star Wars trilogy but recently films such as the Hary Potter series.
So back to Superman, and I think you know where I’m going with this. That score! That beautifully deep, low brass, reaching a crescendo that just can’t help but thrill. Williams’ score captures the very essence of Superman and you can bet that if Brandon Routh and Henry Cavill got to fly around Metropolis to these sounds we’d all look at them very differently.