Film composers – cinema’s unsung heroes?

John-Williams-and-Steven-Spielberg-john-williams-25180335-2100-1869If I weren’t a director, I would want to be a film composer.” Steven Spielberg

Would great films be great without great scores? Hard to know really. What I do know is that us humans are emotive creatures. Whilst visual images are often arresting, music cuts to the bone. It sears the soul in ways that, sometimes, visual cannot.

Indeed, there’s something about music that taps into our psyche, lighting the blue touch paper of deep-seated emotions, ones we often thought previously walled off or under control. Such is its power. And the way it unearths memories and emotions is uncanny, particularly when linked to powerful visuals.

John Williams
Considered to be one of the greatest film composers of all time; Williams is largely responsible for composing the music to some of the biggest films of all time: Star Wars, Superman, Jaws, Indiana Jones, ET, Jurassic Park, Harry Potter – his body of work is phenomenal. He’s won 5 Oscars, 4 Golden Globes, 7 BAFTAs, 21 Grammy awards; and been nominated a staggering 48 times, second only to Walt Disney. Still, my rambling on will hardly give him fitting tribute. So I leave that to this a capella montage or Williams conducting below.


John Barry

They call him Barry, John Barry. Arguably most well known for his work on the James Bond films, Barry worked on an impressive 12 Bonds, from Dr No in 1962 to The Living Daylights in 1987. And if that wasn’t enough, he also scored Born Free, Out of Africa, Dances with Wolves and many more; plus won 5 Oscars, 2 BAFTAs and a Golden Globe.


Hans Zimmer
As far as composers go, Hans Zimmer is truly special. He may even be my favourite. He’s scored True Romance – one of my favourite films – with its irreverent little melody. Something which, oddly, may have influenced his work the following year on The Lion King. Then there’s Gladiator, Pirates of the Caribbean, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, Inception, The Dark Knight Rises, Rush and Man of Steel. He’s won 4 Grammy awards, 3 classical Brit awards, 2 Golden Globes and an Oscar.


Howard Shore

Shore’s a heavy hitter in the world of film composing. 3 Oscars, 3 Golden Globes, 4 Grammy awards. Not bad going. He’s worked extensively with David Cronenberg and also with David Fincher on films like Seven. So many were surprised, given his love of dark scores, that he bagged The Lord of the Rings gig. However, his work on this trilogy was out of this world. Beautiful, beautiful music.


Alan Silvestri

Good teamwork, that’s what it’s all about. Teaming directors with cinematographers and composers – letting their individual brilliance shine through. In this case Silvestri’s pairing with director Robert Zemeckis has, over the years, resulted in some wonderful scores: Back to the Future, Forest Gump and Flight to name a few.

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