According to the Internet Movie Database, John Williams first began writing music for visual media back in 1956 for the TV anthology Playhouse 90, and now, 55 years later, the man has two films opening in a couple of weeks (Tintin, the trailers for which can be seen here and War Horse, which you can preview here). That the man has been so blessed to be plying his trade for so long is amazing…that he has been a pretty much constant collaborator with Steven Spielberg, the director whose work he is most associated with, since 1974’s The Sugarland Express is incredible. That both of the abovementioned films are Spielberg films, mammoth projects that must have had incredibly complicated, overlapping production schedules, is beyond comprehension! The creativity and energy these guys bring to the table is estimable, to say the least.
So, how does something like that happen? It’s a combination, I think, of good fortune, of two people sharing a common vision, of persistence and flexibility, and, after a long enough period of working as team, of the emergence of a sort of “shorthand”. Here’s Spielberg’s thoughts on this very process, in a recent interview with Mark Harris (and thank you to MSN Entertainment for streaming it!), about “War Horse”:
While I haven’t been in the fortunate position be have a long-time collaborator like Mr. Williams (I haven’t had 55 birthdays yet, let alone a career that long), establishing trust and a musical shorthand is key to any collaboration, and I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to build a vocabulary with some friends and partners, particularly with forces to be reckoned with like Lara Cassidy, Bunthivy Nou, and Joshua Young. As 2011 winds down to a close, I want to thank these folks for their trust and openness and eagerness to communicate – and hope that 2012 will bring many more creative partnerships like the ones we’ve shared so far – if you want in, I’m an email or phone call away!