Local News Since 1890 Now Online!

Posts Tagged ‘star wars’

Film scores make the movie, enhance the imagery

In Education, Movies, Music, Opinion, Technology, Uncategorized on August 8, 2017 at 1:28 pm

Music gives us a common language. Images give us a common vision. Together we gain understanding … and peace. Who knew that in the 21st Century, film score composers would become rock stars? They fill arenas with people of all ages and ethnicities who come together for a few hours to be one people, one music, one heart and one spirit.

As I tap this out on the tiny screen of my iPhone, I am sitting in the US Bank Arena in Cincinnati, surrounded by thousands of people who have come to listen to a kind of music that penetrates our pop culture. All over the country, Academy Award-winning composer Hans Zimmer not only conducts but performs alongside a group of incredibly talented musicians to bring his film music to life for crowds of thousands.

An incredible concert of pieces from films like Crimson Tide, The Lion King and Batman Begins, plus an amazing tribute to Wonder Woman with all-female lead musicians. The crowd is totally enthralled with this presentation and I cannot help but be moved and the thought of, “Finally, people get it.” What do I mean by that?

If you follow my writings at all, you know that I am a musician. Scratch that, I’m not as much a musician as an entertainer. Musicians spend years of their lives studying and working and perfecting their craft. I literally woke up one morning and could play the piano. Not exaggerating, that’s how it felt. One day I couldn’t, the next I could.

    Film becomes more alive with the right orchestrated score. (Photo Courtesy TheHustle.co)

I mention this because the most influential music in my life was that of film – John Williams (Jaws, Star Wars), Jerry Goldsmith (Star Trek), John Barry (Dances with Wolves, Somewhere In Time), James Horner (Titanic, The Mask of Zorro), and, most importantly to me, Stu Phillips (Battlestar Galactica ’78). These composers shaped the music I would eventually play because theirs was the first to come to life at my piano.

I am an auditory learner, I play by ear, not by sheet music, so the combination of an image to go with the music was particularly powerful. I could see the images from the films in my head as the music came out and the first one was the theme to the 1978 Battlestar Galactica series. An elaborate piece of music that layered two themes on top of one another seems an unlikely choice for a 12-year-old budding pianist, but that’s what fell out.

And as I grew up, film music always kept a hold on my ear far more than any other genre. And my ear was drawn to scores, not soundtracks. The difference being that a soundtrack generally included vocal pop songs and such while the score was the more “classical” sounding background music and themes. In any case, sitting in this concern made me realize that what I’d always thought was cool had finally actually become popular.

Films bring people together. Music brings people together. A huge part of what makes a great movie is the music. Imagine Jaws without the “duh dum … duh dum …” of John Williams’ famous theme? It would just be water… and a mechanical shark.

As a Star Trek fan, I can close my eyes, listen to a score from one of the films and tell you exactly when the Starship Enterprise appears on screen just by the tone and use of various themes. It’s emotional, heart-pounding, drama-inducing sound that carries us along with the characters. Music makes the movie and it is part of what ties us together as fans of those films.

Like the movies themselves, film scores reach across political, social, ethnic and economic boundaries, allowing us to have a common ground in a way that nothing else can. Movies take us on trips to the stars, beneath the sea, into battle, and through the perils of international intrigue. But none of it would happen without the amazing music created by great and incredibly under appreciated (until now) composers like Hans Zimmer and company.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer and the producer of The Brothers & Co. music and variety show. More at thebrothersvarietyshow.com

 

 

Why I’m done with Star Wars.

In Entertainment, Holiday, Media, Movies, National News, Opinion, Uncategorized on December 28, 2015 at 9:58 am

 

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOIf you’re a die-hard Star Wars fan, you’re not going to like what you’re about to read and that’s OK with me. If you haven’t seen Star Wars, Episode VII: The Force Awakens, you should probably stop reading right now because I will be giving away some major spoilers, and, subsequently the main reasons I’m done with the franchise.

I’ve been a lifelong Star Wars fan and it was always a part of my personal pop culture, just as it was for millions of others. But, The Force Awakens was so tragically disappointing that it has ended my interest in any future Star Wars movies with director J.J. Abrams at the helm.

In 2009, Abrams did little to endear himself to fans of CBS Paramount’s Star Trek franchise when he tossed the half-century-long story canon established by Gene Roddenberry in favor of his “alternate universe.”

IMG_4731

Gery’s 1978 Millennium Falcon toy space ship with a couple of the action figures from the 90s. Gery sold off a great portion of a vast 1970s era collection in 2005.

But, for Star Wars, I was willing to give him a chance and hold my opinions until seeing the movie. Sadly, my worst fears were realized and I simply do not understand why any true Star Wars fan likes this film.

However overblown the hype and merchandising, this “new” story is little more than a mashed up repeat of the original trilogy into one movie. At its core, The Force Awakens is the story of a wannabe Lightsaber jockey seduced by the dark side who adopts a Vader-esque breath mask and sets out to hunt down former teacher, Luke Skywalker.

His evil cohorts have build a space station (that looks like a moon) and blow up some important planets before being destroyed by a spunky pilot and his adorable robot. Does any of this seem familiar yet?

But wait, there’s more! The worst part of the story is that the bad guy is the son of Han Solo and Princess Leia and isn’t much more than a whining, 20-something, Darth Vader fan boy with daddy issues. He doesn’t even need the mask, popping off regularly throughout the movie!

Near the end of the film, he confronts Solo on a bridge and kills him to prove to his master how “evil” he has become. And that’s just about when I nearly walked out on this film. Killing off a beloved, long-lived character should be purposeful and respectful. Abrams’ blatant “murder” of Han Solo was anything but either. The word that comes to mind to describe it is, pointless.

As a writer, it’s hard for me to accept that a character like Solo was written to have survived everything we saw in the first three films just to be murdered in a moment of gullibility.

Rumor has it that this was the only way actor Harrison Ford would agree to return to Star Wars. If that’s the case, then the character’s death should have had meaning. But it didn’t.

Sadly, some great performances by the new cast, including the female lead, are overshadowed by the retread story line. I’m well aware that more than $1 billion in box office returns – not to mention a flurry of media praise – do not support my conclusions. But it won’t be the first time good box office returns had no real relationship to the quality of a film.

Personally, I believe this film travesty is just a way for director Abrams to leverage his control over Star Wars. He simply punched the fans in the face to reinforce that this is now his property and it will go how he wants it, fans and good writing not withstanding. But, money talks so you’re likely stuck with him for a while.

As talented as he may be, J.J. Abrams will never be a George Lucas or Steven Spielberg. No amount of lens flare will make up for the fact that he simply doesn’t care about these stories, the characters, or, more importantly, the fans.

All we can do is hope no one lets Abrams anywhere near Indiana Jones. Now excuse me, I need to go put the rest of my Star Wars collection on eBay. May the Force be with you.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications. More at gerydeer.com