Superman – 1978
It may seem trivial now, after over a decade of non stop super hero films to think of a comic book character depicted on screen, but in 1978, this was all very new. The Superman film likely set of the slow and steady events that made films like The Avengers possible, but although Superman didn’t have the technological capabilities to show photo realistic computerised effects it did have something the Marvel films lack, a memorable theme. Much like Star Wars, Superman opens with a celestial title sequence and the awe inspiring theme bursts from the speakers to the audience. Here John Williams isn’t inviting you to a space opera he is showing you the sound of pure heroism, as the horns blare out the inspiring melody, he has you captivated and then as if you weren’t already convinced, the last three notes are amplified in a way that sends tingles down your spine. Now try and hum the Avengers theme.
ET – 1982
Heading into the 80’s Williams did not lose his touch, and as films changed their subject matter so did the sounds of his compositions, perfectly fitting with the material on screen. In E.T. a family Sci-fi about a friendly alien, the themes that run on have a range of queues that would be tough for an amateur to crack. This wondrous master of sound balances all the fear of new experiences, the curiosity, as well as the clearly alien aspect here. Of course, when it comes to the iconic flight scene all the wonder and excitement explode into a blissful melody that takes its listeners to the stars with it.
Home Alone – 1990
This time a comedy with some very unusual elements, Williams’ soundtrack to this beloved John Hughes film is exquisite. It has quirky steps, a mysterious vibe that doesn’t quite get creepy and a real wholesome and loving theme that runs throughout all the while embodying a very Christmas-centric warmth. The villains have a bumbling theme, the frantic family have their own, the often irrational fears of the main character become genuinely scary with their intense racing sounds and the heartwarming finale is made even better by the enchanting strings that come in to cuddle you into afterward.
Jurassic Park – 1993
After making Great White’s seem devilish with a couple notes, it makes sense that Williams would be suitable for bringing these larger than life creatures onto the screen with a thump. Of course he doesn’t disappoint as drums and horns embody fear through suspenseful hiding scenes and action packed chases. Yet what is memorable here is the first glance the scientists take at the prehistoric world brought to life as the theme of beauty and wonder sweep audiences up.
Harry Potter – 2001
If you think Williams peaked in the 70’s you’d be very wrong, he continues to work to this day despite his age and has brought us remarkably modern themes such as those for Harry Potter. What Williams has done here is somehow create a sense of magic that fits the exact nature of the films, his theme manages to capture school, England and the unpredictable. The resulting games and theme park areas that have spun out of the series help to bring this franchise to life but they all need Williams’ music to seal the deal.