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Discuss: John Williams Wants To Return To Score ‘Star Wars,’ But Would Michael Giacchino Be A Better Choice?

by Charlie Schmidlin
February 19, 2013 11:15 AM
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John Williams Michael Giancchio

In the instance of top directors announcing their latest projects, you can bet a select few composers are confidently clearing their calendars for work to come. But while Christopher Nolan and Peter Jackson rely on Hans Zimmer and Howard Shore for iconic scores, both composers in turn hold parts of franchise iconography for iterations to come -- a matter thrown into relief lately with J.J. Abrams’ take on “Star Wars” and its musical direction.

Until now, composer John Williams has been an iconic and consistently solid facet to the “Star Wars” property, and as conveyed during a recent concert performance, the composer hopes to keep it that way with Abrams’ inclusion into the mix.

“Neither I, nor George [Lucas], nor anyone else involved thought this would go far, or in a few years there would be a sequel and I’d have to revisit the themes,” Williams explained (via JWFan). “Now we’re hearing of a new set of movies coming in 2015, 2016…so I need to make sure I’m still ready to go in a few years for what I hope would be continued work with George.”

Aside from Williams perhaps being unaware that the latest film had fallen into Abrams’ hands (and that Lucas is apparently stepping back), it’s still a valid assumption that the composer will be involved on a nostalgic basis alone. However, a persuasive element for change, as well as a logical one, lies in composer Michael Giacchino. Abrams and Giacchino have only grown more simpatico since working together on the “Alias," and after all, the composer had no qualms stepping into the shoes of Jerry Goldsmith when it came to the “Star Trek” reboot. What’s to say this will be different?

However, if recent developments show anything, it's that Disney and Lucasfilm are moving forward by looking to the past, as initial speculation of new characters and storylines has quickly given way to questions of Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford’s return. Perhaps Abrams may pull a surprise in the end, but what do you think Giacchino’s contribution could bring to the “Star Wars” series, and should Williams be involved at all? While some new musical blood could be refreshing, are the familiar strains of Williams something everyone wants to hear no matter who is directing? Who do you prefer? Let us know below.

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  • Chris | May 3, 2013 3:12 AMReply

    "(Giacchino is) persuasive element for change, as well as a logical one"
    "Disney and Lucasfilm are moving forward by looking to the past"

    Your argument falls apart here. Giacchino's entire career is based on imitating the past. He does not represent the future, he's a curator of the greats of old (albeit a much needed one). This goes all the way down to the techniques Giacchino uses to record his musicians, techniques that even Williams has since abandoned decades ago. MG even had a behind the scenes about how he and his team wore suits to the scoring stage, because "that's the way they used to do it."

    To a fault, he is the MOST reverential to the past of any of today's successful composers. He is more reverential to Williams than Williams himself.

    My question to you, why hire the curator when you can commission the artist?

  • Nikatsu | March 28, 2013 4:47 PMReply

    Mr. Cappuccino is the perfect choice to score a J.J. Abrams Star Wars: Just the right amount of mediocre triumphalism, with all the depth and distinctiveness of Ryan Seacrest.

  • Eric | February 28, 2013 9:53 AMReply

    Giacchino is like John Williams-lite, if he did score Star Wars he would need to stick closely to Williams' established themes, I wish he had done that for Star Trek (with Jerry Goldsmith and James Horner, and to a lesser degree Dennis McCarthy) because frankly that score veered too far off from what the great composers before him had done.

  • Filmmusicfan | February 20, 2013 4:04 AMReply

    Simply put, Giacchino is NOT a better choice than Williams. That's an insane question. Maybe for a spinoff film, but not the sequel trilogy.

  • Alan B | February 20, 2013 2:41 AMReply

    Only on The Playlist could a writer suggest that John frickin' Williams might not be the best person to score Star Wars. Let me guess: second choice after Michael Giacchino should be Michael Fassbender, right? Because he can do anything ...

  • Captain Celluloid | February 19, 2013 1:15 PMReply

    I like Michael Giacchino. He seems like a great guy; he seems like he would be fun to hang out with. Directors and musicians love him.

    That said he is not in the same musical category as John Williams . . . . or David Newman or Howard Shore . . . . or Jerry Goldsmith.

    Giacchino's strength is that he's a fundamentally a film guy who became a musician;
    he makes directors comfortable because he speaks their language and he knows how to chose solid music to enhance a film.

    Again, that said, Giacchino is not as broadly skilled a musician as Williams. That doesn't make him a bad person and it doesn't automatically make his scores less effective -- THE INCREDIBLES is a true classic -- it means he does not have the range or facility or dare I say the depth of Williams . . . . . and when he is asked to emulate Williams the results have been disappointing as in SUPER 8.

    IMHO people have taken Williams for granted as "Spielberg's Schamltzy Guy."
    Granted he does that and does that well but he has demonstrated so much range
    over the years that he does not deserve to be defined only by Spielberg.

    s much as I feel that director / composer relationships are important . . . . in the case of STAR WARS Abrams would be wise to continue the STAR WARS / composer relationship.

    There are many things that could stand re-booting in STAR WARS. I would posit that
    the consensus would be that music is not one of them

  • Filmmusicfanfan | February 20, 2013 4:00 AM

    I agree with everything you posted! Giacchino really is the luckiest guy on the planet and I don't get how people think he's in the same ballpark as Williams or the other names you mentioned. He doesn't have the depth and would be in over his head if he tried to take on star wars. If Williams wants it he should score it. Then down the line when Williams retires I hope whoever the director is at that time takes an honest look at who the best successor would be. I really wish directors and producers would put their loyalties aside from time to time and make the best decision for the film. Star wars would be a time for this

  • Glass | February 19, 2013 12:54 PMReply

    As much as I like Giacchino, he's scoring fucking EVERYTHING these days. It's iffy enough having an over-commercialized director doing this, It'd be pretty disappointing to have the same blockbuster composer do his John Williams impression here too.

  • dude | February 19, 2013 11:51 AMReply

    Williams hasn't been significant in a decade. On the prequel trilogy he was as on auto-pilot as Lucas was...Plus he's likely to fucking die sooner then later. Go for Gianncchio and made him emulate the opening credit like Singer did for Superman Returns.

  • Jamie | May 21, 2013 8:21 PM

    "Williams hasn't been significant in a decade" What about 'The Terminal'? 'Catch Me If You Can'? 'Tin Tin'? They were all stunning scores with as much depth as the classics. Even 'War Horse' and 'Lincoln' while not as antemic as the latter scores I mentioned - still show fine musicianship and great composition and arrangement. I can't think that anyone else could fill John Williams shoes: Jerry Goldsmith came closest to anyone else but he's been dead now for 10 years, so the decision is simple. Michael Giacchino is a good composer, but he writes predictable chord progressions which I can identify even when watching the film in a theater for the first time. I can't do that will Mr Williams though.

  • What? | February 19, 2013 11:50 AMReply

    "Abrams and Giacchino have only grown more simpatico since working together on the “Alias” video game"

    The video game was a spin-off from the TV show that Giacchino scored. The show came first. Did this writer even look at Wikipedia when researching this article, or was that considered too time-consuming?

  • What? | February 19, 2013 11:43 AMReply

    "the director had no qualms in replacing Jerry Goldsmith for him when it came to the “Star Trek” reboot."

    Jerry Goldsmith was dead and had been for 5 years when the Star Trek reboot came out.

  • rodie | February 19, 2013 11:33 AMReply

    Use a few of Williams' old themes, but other than that, I think starting fresh with Gianncchio would be wise. I mean, perhaps Williams could contribute to this first sequel, but really, you think he's going to be working and at the top of his game in his 90s? Let him consult on it or something maybe, but just as Lucas has passed the baton, Williams should do the same.

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