John Williams' scores are some of the most iconic in film history, from the slowly-building two-note “bum bum” in “Jaws” to the music box melody of “Hedwig's Theme” in the “Harry Potter” films.
We went through his most recognizable scores and listened to their iconic main themes.
Oh, the tension. The theme to “Jaws” starts nearly silent, but builds to a fervor so quickly, just like an attack by the giant great white shark in the film. We definitely don't want to go in the water.
When the fanfare of the main title theme in “Star Wars” played, we knew that we were being whisked off somewhere special. It's instantly recognizable. Just ask someone you know to hum the theme and they'll probably be able to do it.
You'll believe a man can fly when you hear the soaring trumpet tones of the theme to “Superman.” When they first heard this music, who didn't want to tie a towel around their neck and play Superman? (If you're saying, “not me,” we don't believe you.)
Every time we hear the theme, which is the same in all of the franchise's movies, we can't help but think of riding on horseback to an adventure — maybe a dungeon full of old artifacts, a few deadly traps— while being chased by the bad guys. The sweeping music whisks us away every time.
An alien? Do we get to keep him? Only until the government agents show up to take him away. All we can think about when we hear the theme is Elliott and E.T.'s triumphant getaway on a bicycle.
As if the onscreen moments weren't moving enough, Williams had to create music that made us want to shed a few tears. Though we listened with visual accompaniment, the music brought back dozens of scenes to our minds.
Will the movies be as good as the books? Potter fans wondered just that until they heard Williams' “Hedwig's Theme” in the trailer for the first film, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.” The song's initial music-box melody sounds like something played at Hogwarts and the later swirling parts prepare us for colorful, dangerous wizarding duels.