Monday, November 4, 2013

How to Rescue a Reporter

Alex Ross creates rhe same effect in a painting that John Williams creates in music.

For an illustration of just how powerfully music can contribute to a film, click here.
The key helicopter rescue scene of Richard Donner’s 1978 Superman film has been stripped of sound, with the soundtrack music brought up full.
“Do not get me started on the brilliance of John Williams,” remarked theatrical designer Ken Barnett. “This is one of my favorite scenes of all time. THIS IS THE PERFECT SUPER HERO MOMENT!!! When Clark comes out and picks up her hat... CHILLS! Perfection. They have not been able to top this moment in any of the Superman films. They were close with Supes rescuing Lois on the plane with the space shuttle in ‘Returns...’”
“When Clark is running, and she’s sliding down that seatbelt... Hitchcock couldn't have done better.”
“John Williams is such an amazing artist!” Ken said. “Sadly, people will not realize this until he is gone. I love this soundtrack...”
I agree that the music and the scene are perfect, and perfect for each other. I get my frisson when the strings go mournful as the fire trucks and ambulances arrive. John Williams is telling you “Poor Lois is going to die now,” and you believe it emotionally, even though you know she won’t intellectually, simply because of the power of his music.
And then there's the wonderful way that the rhythm of the Superman theme begins as Clark Kent grasps the situation, low and slowly under the disaster music, building in power. Watch a real actor at work as Christopher Reeve lets the disguise of ordinariness drop from his face, replaced by the laser-focus moral determination of Superman as the Williams theme builds and builds...


  1. Spot on...a GOOD composer can write nice music. A modern day MOZART like J. Williams, has the ability to read the emotional content of a scene and capture it with music. That's why Spielberg will ONLY work with Williams. Think about how simple yet BRILLIANT the Jaws theme was. Everything that Williams writes becomes ICONIC. That's no accident. That's GENIUS.

  2. I don't think there will ever be another Superman theme like this one, nor a fantastic rescue scene that still gives me chills, slight tears, and makes my heart pound no matter how many times I see it. John Williams' music and Christopher Reeve make up the essence of Superman.

  3. very true indeed... although he's been well-known to 'borrow' musical ideas (motives) and/or style from various other well-known composers... Wagner, Stravinsky, Copland, to name a few... really seem to prefer his earlier film music (the cowboys, family plot) as well....