Review of "AFI's Master Class - The Art of Collaboration" on TCM From The TV MegaSite
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Stephen Spielberg and John Williams

"TCM Presents: AFI's Master Class - The Art of Collaboration" review by Suzanne Tuesday, Nov. 15, at 8 p.m. (ET) on TCM

This is a great special that features Stephen Spielberg and John Williams sitting down and discussing their favorite movies with music (ones they did as well as others), and then taking questions from the audience of film students.

Now, that may sound boring, but it really isn't, especially if you are a fan of Spielberg, Williams, or movies. They also do show plenty of clips of the films they are discussing. It's really great because you don't get much opportunity to hear these guys speak.

To be honest, Spielberg does most of the talking, and he's very chatty. Williams doesn't say nearly as much.  Still, it's fascinating and entertaining. My only complaint is that it is way to short. It's over before you know it.

More Information:

Turner Classic Movies and the American Film Institute (AFI) are teaming up for an extraordinary series of quarterly specials exploring some of the greatest artistic collaborations in film today. TCM Presents: AFI's Master Class - The Art of Collaboration will launch Tuesday, Nov. 15, with an in-depth, one-hour special focusing on the 40-year collaboration between filmmaker Steven Spielberg and composer John Williams. Upcoming specials in the series will be announced later.

"It is understood that film is a collaborative art, but the enormously successful artists featured in these specials have taken collaboration to its highest level," said Michael Wright, executive vice president, head of programming for TCM, TNT and TBS. "We are enormously proud to be working with the American Film Institute on this vital project, which will capture the vision and processes of artists whose collaborations have literally changed how movies are made."

"One of the founding principles of the AFI Conservatory is that our Fellows learn from the masters," said Bob Gazzale, president and CEO of the American Film Institute. "Thanks to Turner Classic Movies, we are proud to share their words and wisdom with the world and most honored to inaugurate the series with Steven Spielberg and John Williams, two of the greatest collaborators in the history of the art form."

TCM Presents: AFI's Master Class - The Art of Collaboration opens Tuesday, Nov. 15, at 8 p.m. (ET) with a look at the four-decade friendship and working relationship between filmmaker Steven Spielberg and composer John Williams, one of the most prolific and influential artistic collaborations in film history. Master classes are a core part of the curriculum at the AFI Conservatory, which offers a Master of Fine Arts degree in six filmmaking disciplines and was recently named the #1 film school in the world by The Hollywood Reporter. With an audience comprised solely of AFI Fellows, the two artists discuss films that inspired them and present clips from these classic films. They also present and discuss their own collaborative work to illustrate different aspects of filmmaking. Each program concludes with a Q&A session with AFI Fellows.

The Spielberg-Williams collaboration began in 1974, when Spielberg asked the composer to score The Sugarland Express (1974), the director's first theatrical film. Familiar with Williams' work on Mark Rydell's adaptation of William Faulkner's The Reivers (1969), Spielberg felt the composer could capture the right sound for his light-hearted convicts-on-the-run drama starring Goldie Hawn. Williams' score is both haunting and playful, with legendary jazz musician Toots Thielemans, providing the harmonica solos.

Spielberg and Williams' collaboration took off the following year with the mega-blockbuster Jaws (1975), which earned Williams the first of three Oscars he would take home for scoring Spielberg's films. After that, there was no looking back as the pair collaborated on such popular hits as Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Hook (1991), Jurassic Park (1993), Catch Me if You Can (2002), Minority Report (2002) and War of the Worlds (2005), as well as such powerful dramas as Empire of the Sun (1987), Schindler's List (1993), Saving Private Ryan (1998) and Munich (2005).

Along the way, Spielberg has taken home three Oscars for Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan, while Williams added statuettes for E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial and Schindler's List. The pair also worked together on two documentary shorts and two episodes of the television series Amazing Stories, for which Williams also wrote the theme. Today, the Spielberg-Williams collaboration continues full force, with The Adventures of Tintin and their 25th feature film collaboration, War Horse, both set for release this Christmas. Spielberg's Lincoln, which will mark their 26th feature film together, is slated for release in 2012.

TCM will follow the premiere of TCM Presents AFI Master Class - The Art of Collaboration: Steven Spielberg and John Williams with a presentation of Saving Private Ryan, a film in which both artists went against traditional war-movie forms: Spielberg with his chaotic, non-glorifying vision of war and Williams with a score that relies on hymn-like reverence and seething, underlying tension. The evening will also include a presentation of Stanley Kubrick's Spartacus (1960), with a score by Alex North. Williams and Spielberg both cite Kubrick and North's work on Spartacus as influencing their collaborative point of view.

About the American Film Institute
AFI is America's promise to preserve the history of the motion picture, to honor the artists and their work and to educate the next generation of storytellers. AFI provides leadership in film, television and digital media and is dedicated to initiatives that engage the past, the present and the future of the moving image arts.

AFI preserves the legacy of America's film heritage through the AFI Catalog of Feature Films, an authoritative record of American films from 1893 to the present, and the AFI Archive, which contains rare footage from across the history of the moving image.

AFI honors the artists and their work through a variety of annual programs and special events, including the AFI Life Achievement Award and AFI Awards. For 39 years, the AFI Life Achievement Award has remained the highest honor for a career in film while AFI Awards, the Institute's almanac for the 21st century, honors the most outstanding motion pictures and television programs of the year. AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies television events and movie reference lists, as well as AFI Night at the Movies, have introduced and reintroduced classic American movies to millions of film lovers. And as the largest nonprofit exhibitor in the United States, AFI offers film enthusiasts a variety of events throughout the year, including AFI Fest presented by Audi, the longest running international film festival in Los Angeles; AFI-Discovery Channel Silverdocs, the largest documentary festival in the U.S.; and year-round programming at the AFI Silver Theatre in the Washington, D.C. area.

AFI educates the next generation of storytellers at its world-renowned AFI Conservatory, offering a two-year Master of Fine Arts degree in six filmmaking disciplines: Cinematography, Directing, Editing, Producing, Production Design and Screenwriting. AFI also explores new digital technologies through special workshops. Additional information is available at

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Updated 11/15/11 


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