Oscar-winning composer John Williams will receive the 44th AFI Life Achievement Award
Imagine that infamous scrolling Star Wars opening text displaying silently. Think of Superman taking flight without that tell-tale march. Consider Indiana Jones fighting Nazis to the expertly choreographed sounds of whip cracks and gunshots. Try and reimagine Close Encounters of the Third Kind without its nearly unparalleled blend of visual and soundtrack. Or even Hedwig flying through Hogwarts with only the wind to accompany her.
And perhaps, most famously, try and imagine that iconic Jaws fin without the six basses, eight celli, four trombones, and tuba.
These film soundtracks, among dozens of others, help construct the very fiber of great, timeless cinema, and we have Oscar-winning composer John Williams to thank for them. In recognition of his extreme talent, the American Film Institute (AFI) announced today that Steven Spielberg will present Williams with the 44th AFI Life Achievement Award. To continue the honor, TNT will present the AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to John Williams, an hour-long special featuring clips from his most famous scores as well as presentations from the private tribute scheduled for the Dolby Theater in Hollywood on June 9.
The special comes at a strange time for me as I’ve recently started revisiting the 84-year-old Williams’s work, rediscovering not only the famous scores but also the lesser known but equally great work like The Sugarland Express. I’d come to a strange realization – that I have physical anxiety over his mortality. I can’t imagine entering another movie theater with the knowledge that I would no longer hear a new score of his. The thought has caused me some serious heartache.
So now is the perfect time to celebrate his work as the AFI recognizes its first (and long overdue) composer. I mean how is it possible that a man with 50 Oscar nominations (five wins), six Emmy nominations (three wins), 25 Golden Globe nominations (four wins), 65 Grammy nominations (22 wins), and seven BAFTAs could possibly feel under appreciated?
AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to John Williams airs on June 15 at 10pm ET on TNT.