Friday, June 10, 2016

John Williams Honored By Lucas, Abrams, Ford & Others At AFI Awards

By: Benjamin Hart

John Williams, the man, the myth, the legend, is undoubtedly greatest film composer of all time, one of the influential of our time. Films such as ET, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, Harry Potter, Jaws, Superman and, of course, Star Wars account for only a portion of Williams' incredible career that has spanned 60 years.

Now, just after his return to a Galaxy far, far away with his score for The Force Awakens, Williams shows no signs of stopping. It was recently announced that the legendary composer was going to be honored with an AFI Lifetime Achievement Award, and would be the first non-actor or director to do so. On Thursday a plethora of familiar faces attended the AFI Gala where Williams was presented with the award, and several made a point to give him some much deserved praise. Big names such as Steven Spielberg, Drew Barrymore, Seth MacFarlane and Will Ferrel were among the roster of speakers who saluted Williams.

But those who made the biggest impact on the evening were the ones who have had the closest relationships with Williams and his music. As Variety reports, the Maker himself, George Lucas, appeared and thanked Williams for his contributions to the Star Wars saga:

Speaking of “Star Wars,” Lucas noted it was Williams’ music that helped turn a film “meant to be a fantasy for young people” into a culture-shaking franchise, telling the composer, “You made my life so easy. I had so many ideas for other movies, but I never had to get around to them thanks to ‘Star Wars.’"

The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams once more lovingly joked about Williams and the pet names gives to others:

“‘Oh Angel, I just hope this cue is good enough.’ These are the kinds of preposterous things that John Williams says at his own scoring sessions,” Abrams said. “It’s like he’s never read his own resume. He’s the sweetest superhero of all time.”

Even Basketball player Kobe Bryant was there to cheer on Williams, saying that one of the composer's iconic Star Wars themes helped Bryant recover from an injury he received back in 2013:

“The music I chose to return to the court was the Imperial March from ‘Star Wars.' Why? I needed John Williams to inspire me. That’s music for a villain. The Black Mamba was back and the Imperial March immediately put me into character.”

One of the biggest highlights was when Harrison Ford took the stage while serenaded by the iconic Indiana Jones theme and delivered a hilarious response:

“That damn music follows me everywhere... They play it every time I walk on the stage. Every time I walk off the stage. It was playing in the operating room when I went in for a colonoscopy.”

But Ford did not leave without expressing his heartfelt appreciation of Williams:

“This is an example of entertainment elevated to the level of art... John, you’re a genius.”

John Williams himself was also on stage to accept the award and spoke about his career, shared memories and thanked his friends and colleagues. Among the things he covered was the fact that he worked on a love theme for for Luke and Leia, not knowing of their true relationship that would eventually be revealed in Return Of The Jedi:

“I wrote quite a heated love scene, including a big climax, thinking that Luke and Leia were lovers. And I found out two years later that they were brother and sister.”

His further reaction to receiving the award is woven with humility:

“Once I get over being stunned, I will treasure this night always. Tomorrow morning, when I’m back at work, I will try to deserve all of this."

You can read more about the event by heading over to Variety. The ceremony will air on TNT on June 15 at 10:00 p.m. (ET/ PT). We all certainly want to congratulate Mr. Williams on this very much deserved honor. The Force will be with John Williams... always.

Sources: Variety, The Wrap

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