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Raiders versus Jaws

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Mark Kermode | 13:57 UK time, Wednesday, 18 May 2011

In a few weeks time Simon Mayo and I are doing a special on film music with the BBC Philharmonic. We've chosen some great music to feature in the show but we just couldn't decide between the famous John Williams themes from Raiders of the Lost Ark and Jaws. Can you help?

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Listeners can vote for their chosen film score by texting 85058 with the keyword RAIDERS to vote for Raiders of the Lost Ark, or JAWS to vote for Jaws.

Only one vote per listener will be permitted.

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The vote will close on Friday 20th May 2011 some time during the broadcast between 1400 and 1600

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  • Comment number 1.

    Should be Star Wars' or Superman's theme...

  • Comment number 2.

    Should be 'The Fury' or John Williams' 'Dracula' ;o) (Personally, I'm glad this isn't between 'Star Wars' and 'Superman' - sorry Matth Stil - as those have been done to death).

    Between the choice given, what I think doesn't matter because I have nothing to text with... not being a mobile phone owner.

    I would say, however... if theme, then... its got to be the 'Jaws' Motif... if underscore then 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' is the outstanding score choice of the two - both great, but I know which I'd sooner listen to regardless of mood.

    In the end, I don't mind so long as Bernard Herrmann, Jerry Goldsmith and Dmitri Shostakovich music is on the menu also ;o)

  • Comment number 3.

    #2 - "...done to death" because they're the superior duo of Williams music, perchance...?

  • Comment number 4.

    If the Back to the Future theme is not featured, then I'm not interested.

    but Raiders > Jaws

  • Comment number 5.

    I'm voting Raider in the faint hope that they include the Map Room theme. Best. Theme. Ever.

  • Comment number 6.

    You should use 'Futile Escape' from Aliens. The best piece of music from the greatest film ever made!

  • Comment number 7.

    How about Goblin's Suspiria Theme with Dr K on vocals?

  • Comment number 8.

    Jaws...because the film is the greatest thing ever placed on celluloid.

    Spielberg has said before that he believes the film would have been half as successful if it hadn't have been for the score.

  • Comment number 9.

    ...JFK would have been a good one too.

  • Comment number 10.

    Jaws is not just the greatest film theme ever but the greatest movie ever

  • Comment number 11.

    Of course JAWS Theme is the best score by a long way - the score is actually a character itself (before the hefty rubber shark enters frame).

    But as a score to be simply played for nostalgic reasons it's perhaps better to play Raiders of the Lost Ark as it has a lot bigger movements to it.

    Personally I think Lawrence of Arabia would have been a better choice

  • Comment number 12.

    I can't vote as I don't have a mobile phone but if I could I'd back Jaws; the Raiders theme is a great piece of music but it is more generic 'stirring action music'; the Jaws music perfectly encapsulates the menace of the approaching shark.

  • Comment number 13.

    As far as choosing a piece of music i would want an orchestra to play, i would say Raiders would be far more enjoyable than Jaws. I only have to go swimming in the sea to hear the Jaws theme, every time! The music when Brody, Quint and Hooper are chasing the shark and the barrels is far more enjoyable and exhilarating than the theme.

  • Comment number 14.

    I voted Raiders. Love both movies, love both themes. Just remember the great feeling leaving the cinema when I first saw Raiders.

  • Comment number 15.

    Although the Jaws score is perfect for the film, I'd rather hear Raiders as a seperate piece. I agree that Lawrence of Arabia would be even more epic. And of course some of John Barry's music.

  • Comment number 16.

    Love them both. We wanted to register for tickets, but our 12 year old daughter is on the stage at the West Yorkshire Playhouse that evening, so we can't. Gutted, especially as we missed out when you were in Leeds.

  • Comment number 17.

    Raiders for just listening to the score but Jaws with the film is better than raiders with the film. Sidenote Jaws is probably Speilberg's best IMHO.

  • Comment number 18.

    Both of these themes have been PLAYED TO DEATH over the years. Fine tunes, maybe, but I really NEVER want to hear them again!
    Something NEW..... please!

  • Comment number 19.

    Jaws theme can't really be seperated from the film and therefore less enjoyable than Raiders would be on its own as this is the more rousing melody

  • Comment number 20.

    Raiders theme (its two for the price of one as well dont forget) its better than the Jaws theme, but the Jaws score is much much more than just Da Da, Da Da...."the Indianapolis story" is at least as much a part of why that scene worked and was so memorable as Robert Shaws lines were.

    but I hope its not just a bunch of main themes that have been picked, as theyve all been heard hundreds of times, get them to play some of the rest of the scores these movies have, the lesser known tracks, the bits you actually hear during the movie that just thematically follow the main theme, they are far more interesting musically to listen to and for an orchestra to play.

  • Comment number 21.

    Please play the theme to True Romance. It makes me happy.

  • Comment number 22.

    Without a doubt its GOT to be Raiders!!! its not as forboding as Jaws, but to here the Philharmonic playing Raiders, that would just be incredible! please, please please................................make it so!

  • Comment number 23.

    Well out of those two it's got to be Jaws.
    But why take up airtime playing John Williams when you could instead play more Morricone? How about Orca instead of Jaws?

  • Comment number 24.

    Kind of off topic, but you said a few weeks ago, during a rather brief review of Norwegian Wood, that you would revisit that film to discuss its score by Jonny Greenwood. As I know your a fan of his work (There Will Be Blood, Radiohead!) will you be discussing this at any point and are you looking forward to his score in the new Lynn Ramsay film??
    Oh and Jaws wins it.

  • Comment number 25.

    What do you choose when it comes to John Williams?
    Jaws: memorable for just 2 notes!!!
    Indiana Jones (all the first three movies have great themes) has given the word adventure a whole new meaning
    Star Wars: would that film have been the success it was without William's score (by the way, in the last trilogy, the soundtrack was the only saving grace).
    Schindler's List: pure poetry in music
    E.T., not just the famous theme, but all the rest of the soundtrack too. The first 15 minutes of that film is just music.
    I could go on forever (Saving Private Ryan, Amistad, Superman, Harry Potter even...)... and now I can't wait for Tintin

  • Comment number 26.

    Melodically and rhythmically the Jaws theme sucks. It might be a more interesting piece of music than Raiders but the orchestration is more limited and doesn't showcase all the different parts of an orchestra as well. As a melody, I think JW's best might be Schindler's List but it probably does not fit the mood of your programme and is not really an orchestral piece.

    Why not get musicians of the BBC Philharmonic to play BOTH themes, or is that a no go? We know how Bolshie musicians can be.

  • Comment number 27.

    Kermode, Do the theme from JAWS with just your harmonica. Or a kazoo.

  • Comment number 28.

    Kermode, please play the theme from JAWS solely with your harmonica.

  • Comment number 29.

    I love the Raiders soundtrack more than the one for Jaws. Although both are great examples of Williams' work.

    Although I agree with SpacedOne @ No. 5. I think the Maproom theme is wonderful.

    I texted Raiders ;-D.

  • Comment number 30.

    Of those two I'd go for RAIDERS. Terrific though JAWS is, it's not as much of a listening experience outside the film. And as an album, I tend to prefer his music to JAWS 2. But why restrict yourself to those two old familiar standards? THE FURY has already been mentioned, but what about the Dance Of The Witches from THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK? The beautiful Reunion from A.I.? The gentle closing music from THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST.

    And if there's not a mention of Jerry Goldsmith in there, there blummin' well should be.

    I'm actually more interested in which piece Dr K is going to play. The only three harmonica pieces I can think of immediately are The Man With The Harmonica (from Once Upon A Time In The West), the theme to Genevieve (which I hate) and, er, Carry On Cabby.

  • Comment number 31.

    isn't the jaws theme based on the psycho shower scene music?

  • Comment number 32.

    sorry - Empire of the Sun is one of the best.

  • Comment number 33.

    Jaws and Raiders scores are ace but slip to 2nd and 3rd when put next the ultimate movie soundtrack of all time that is Predator. Does anyone know if it ever came out on vinyl? Ta

  • Comment number 34.


    PREDATOR was unreleased for many years, the two limited edition CDs are both out of print and expensive. PREDATOR 2 did get an LP release when the film came out.

  • Comment number 35.

    Jaws is the greatest film ever, on just about any level you car to mention. Ditto the music - as an earlier contributor mentioned, it IS a character.

    Personally would've liked to have seen East Bound And Down from Smokey & The Bandit in there too . . .

  • Comment number 36.

    Argh! Typo. Should be care to mention . . . sorry!

  • Comment number 37.

    @6oclockman: That's what my wife came up the aisle to at our wedding - so it makes me happy too!

  • Comment number 38.

    For me, John Carpenter's score on 'Assault on precinct 13' is my favourite, closely followed by 'Midnight cowboy'.

  • Comment number 39.

    What about Clint Mansell's Lux Aeterna...Requiem for a Dream from Darren Aronofsky's film?

    I've recently discovered what it was called and can't stop listening to it. Makes the most mundane things seem dramatic.

  • Comment number 40.

    My vote is for Raiders without a doubt...but is there any theme tune more infectious than Jurassic Park!?! 1 clip from the film and I am humming and whistling to myself all day (also happens every time I go past a very tall electric fence)

  • Comment number 41.

    'Please play the theme to True Romance. It makes me happy.'

    I approve of this comment.

    I've just listened to both pieces and like them very much, but I would choose Jaws, as it is clearly the most suspenseful and cinematic. Although, neither are my favourite John Williams composition. I'm afraid that goes to Jurassic Park; it was the first film I saw in the cinema and, therefore, has a special place in my heart.

    Will you, Dr. K, be entertaining the listening public with a rendition of Tubular Bells?

  • Comment number 42.

    These are all great soundtracks but I believe his most effective (and very different to most others) is Memoirs of a Geisha. Sayuri's Theme is incredible.

  • Comment number 43.

    I don't think John Williams has written a score I don't like but I agree with Periwinkle that his music for Memoirs of a Geisha and Sayuri's Theme is particular is some of the most beautiful.
    Of the two choices here it would have to be Raiders for me. Jaws, while impressive in combination with the visuals of the film, doesn't work as well as a piece of orchestral music on its own I think.

  • Comment number 44.


    -Indeed, I remember those final minutes of the closing credits crawl on the original release of 'Raiders'. As a young lad of 13, I left the theatre, grinning from ear to ear with Williams' triumphant score still thumping. A truly memorable cinematic moment.

    Having said that, I think the score for 'Jaws' will get my vote. It is as powerful and revelatory as Herman's score for 'Psycho'. A true cinematic classic. 'Jaws' is so important as an exemplary tale of how a single composition lifted a gripping story to a level neither director nor composer could ever have of imagined. 50% of it's success lies with Williams. Spielberg has never made another feature without him, proving him not only talented but also incredibly smart.

  • Comment number 45.

    My answer is Jaws. It is harder to right a piece that truly frightens people.

    However if i had to choose a greatest soundtrack ever it would be the emmersive works that Ennio Morricone did for Sergio Leone The Good the Bad and the Ugly, Fistfull of Dollars and Once Upon a time in the West to name a few. I struggle to think of any music that can evoke such powerfull visions of a specific genre than the sublime work of this great composer.

  • Comment number 46.

    Love 'em both, don't care if they're overplayed, but of the two I'd pick Jaws, it is much more innovative. Even if it owes much to Bernard Herrmann's Psycho, Raiders is much more a crib from the likes of Korngold's Adventures of Robin Hood. Jaws is more original, portraying the unseen menace with the driving rhythm of the da da da da with bursts of melody mimicking the brief appearance of the menacing shadow swimming in the underwater gloom. Then the secondary more rousing melodic theme is introduced, which fights against the rest of the music. Human vs shark, the entire conflict of the film, laid out in a brief musical piece. Next to that, Raiders is just a jolly good march for a jolly good film.

    For those who've mentioned the Raiders map room theme, I concur, but would like to ask where's the love for Marion's Theme? I'd suggest its one of Williams few convincing love themes. The return of it and Karen Allen were amongst the few good things about Indy IV.

    Whilst we're pitching programme suggestions about: John Corigliano's mindbending soundtrack for Ken Russell's Altered States deserves the full philharmonic treatment. Although Corigliano has rarely worked in film, this groundbreaking score has been influential on many soundtrack composers since.

    As for the suggestion that Dr K. perform a theme on his harmonica, here's a more challenging task of arrangement, coordination and dexterity: how about Dr K doing the theme from Jaws, doing the Da da da da on either harmonica or kazoo, whilst simultaneously doing the melodic part of the theme on his theremin.

  • Comment number 47.

    Or Jack Nitzsche for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest; best use of a Theremin ever.

  • Comment number 48.

    Is there any chance of getting the BBC Philharmonic to do the theme for Ghost In The Shell?

    Ok probably not but it's still fantastic.

    Actually one of my favourite movie themes comes from the Rutget Hauer b-movies Salute Of The Jugger. The music in the whole final "challenge" match is excellent.

  • Comment number 49.

    I won't be texting but Jaws is the superior score. Williams' work on Raiders is superb, but Jaws posed a greater challenge, and he dealt with it impeccably to the extent it's become a metaphor for anything ominously inevitable.

    It's eerie, unsettling and gathers momentum towards a violent, nerve-shredding crescendo. It also speaks volumes that whenever someone goes "Der der der" to someone else at sea, there is a very good chance they will become petrified and scamper back to shore.

  • Comment number 50.

    The Jaws score is great but I think the Raiders music has the edge. For me Midnight Cowboy has (possibly) the best ever film score.

    Btw, I am now reading last Saturday's Daily Telegraph Review section and I thought you would be interested to see Neil McCormick's list of the 10 most influential film soundtracks.

    (1) The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
    Ennio Morricone

    (2) A Clockwork Orange (1971)
    Walter Carlos

    (3) The Harder They Come (1972)
    Jimmy Cliff & Various Artists

    (4) Superfly (1972)
    Curtis Mayfield

    (5) Apocalypse Now (1979)

    (6) Blade Runner (1982)

    (7) Paris, Texas (1984)
    Ry Cooder

    (8) Gost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999)
    The RZA & Various Artists

    (9) Pulp Fiction (1994)

    (10) O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

    Keep up the good work Mark. I always look forward to your videoblogs and thanks to you I have seen some great films that I would not otherwise know about, e.g. recently Departures.

  • Comment number 51.

    Excellent! But please don't make me choose!
    I am looking forward to June 10th

    A gentleman should always shave.

  • Comment number 52.

    Y'all know me. Know which is my favourite movie. I'll decide which is best for you, but it ain't gonna be easy. Not like putting on the radio and picking ya best pop tunes. And we gotta do it quick, that'll bring back your film music fans, put your concert on a payin' basis. But it's not gonna be pleasant. I'll look at the choices for free, and I'll pick one and stick with it for free too. But you've gotta make up your mind. If you want to pick the best then ante up. If you want to play it safe, then make the easy choice. I don't want no suggestions, I don't want no hints, there's just too many film fans on this site. Absolutely nothing for me by myself. For that you get the overture, the main theme, the whole damn OST.
    Just a little hint for which way I voted! ;D
    I do love both though and agree with @SpacedOne about the map room theme in Raiders, simply glorious!

  • Comment number 53.

    I can't text in as I don't have a mobile, but I would have to pick Raiders. Anyone who tries to tell you they can sit absolutely still all the way through the Raiders March without tapping their feet or humming along is a fibber!

  • Comment number 54.

    "Not available in your area"

    God I'm tired of regional internets.

  • Comment number 55.

    @33... I'm certain the original 'Predator' music track was never released onto vinyl... however many years after the fact there have been 2 or so CD releases now - though they may have all been limited releases... I got one limited release (though I almost missed the boat and managed to track down a copy in Germany), and I think another CD has been released since.

  • Comment number 56.

    Ooops, just seen 34... Didn't notice that in my haste ***blushes***

    I wish there was a chance Herrmann's 'Concerto Macabre' was going to be performed... though at 11 odd minutes... I don't think there is any chance of that. Marvellous piece of film-related concert music though - composed for 'Hangover Square'... which is a really nice little film.

    As for John Williams, and in response to (3)... I do not consider 'Star Wars' and 'Superman' to be the be all and end all of his music. Whether they are his best or not... I tend to think not, but perhaps that may be because they are so over-exposed as pieces of music that my ears have grown tired of them. They are certainly splendid scores... but Williams has composed so many tremendous pieces of music that don't even come close to being so widely performed as his Steven and George work.

  • Comment number 57.

    I thought I'd big-up Elliot Goldenthal's 'Adagio'; the piece heard as Ripley commits suicide at the end of Alien 3. Flawless.

  • Comment number 58.

    Jaws, as it is one of very few scores to define a film. Without it wouldn't be any where near as terrifying and as John Williams, when he wants to be, can be a genius. The music works on so many levels and manipulates the audience far more than the Indiana Jones theme will ever do.

  • Comment number 59.

    Raiders. Obviously.

  • Comment number 60.

    A much fairer competition would be between The Imperial March from Star Wars and the Jaws music.

  • Comment number 61.

    John Williams's 'The Mission' (NBC Nightly News theme) became familiar to me through its use on 'Bill Bailey's Remarkable Guide To The Orchestra' - I know it's not a film theme per se, but Bailey says it's 'like ET on a horse being pursued...'. basically saying its pretty classy compared to the news themes elsewhere!

  • Comment number 62.

    'escape from new york'.. end of.. although i'm not sure how an orchestra would attempt it, but would be interesting.

  • Comment number 63.

    It's impossible to choose a 'best' as both tracks are trying to invoke a completely different mood and both hit the nail of the head for the moods they are respectively trying to invoke.
    Having said that, the Raiders theme always puts a massive stupid grin on my face and I've always said they should scrap 'God save the Queen' and have everyone singing the melody to this instead, it's much more inspiring!
    All together now: "Dun-da dun DUN!"

  • Comment number 64.

    Mark, you have to have the main theme from Zulu,and of course, something from
    Lawrence of Arabia. Glory is also terrific!

  • Comment number 65.

    Hmmmm well the most effective music in terms of it's importance to experiencing the film is definitely JAWS, the music played an active part in the storytelling of that film. It WAS the monster, well until that big rubber thing turned up, but the best music to experinec outside of the film and played by the BBC philarmonic orchestra is definitey Raiders of the Lost Arc. It's just a wonderully rousing piece of music. You can't fail to feel better about the world when it's playing

  • Comment number 66.

    but I hope you're going to play Herrmann's Vertigo theme

  • Comment number 67.

    Raiders, without a doubt. Especially if they play the Map Room scene music.

    Also, I wouldn't mind the Imperial March from Star Wars (I always laugh when remembering how this was once used to greet a Saudi prince on the tarmac at Heathrow - did they know something we didn't? I wonder if he got the meaning!).

    Maybe some John Murphy music from 28 Days Later, Sunshine. That'd be cool.

  • Comment number 68.

    Yup, Jaws's theme is arguably more original and inventive, but for sheer entertainment value and the full joy of a philharmonic, it has to be Raiders.

  • Comment number 69.

    Has to be "Jaws" there is no competition between these two

    As a musican who has played both these it is so much more enjoyable to play "Jaws". "Raiders" is often recycled into other themes for films that it has completely lost it's appeal (similar to "Pirates of the Caribbean", why must peopl/Hans Zimmer be so unoriginal in continually recycling it)

    To answer the question of other film music to play "The Dark Knight" as this is a joy to listen to and "Up" as the film relies on it for the opening sequence and it reflects the mood so perfectly and sets the tone of the film so beautifully

  • Comment number 70.

    @thebeagley I love that score, but on the making of documentary it says that they actually used a Saw to play those wailing sounds. Strange.

  • Comment number 71.

    It should be jaws, best suspense music in a film ever

  • Comment number 72.

    #56 - The 'Star Wars' & 'Superman' themes aren't "...the be all and end all" of Williams' music, huh... Of course they're not. But they trump the 'Raiders' & 'Jaws' themes with their majesty.

    Yes, 'Raiders' is jolly, yes, 'Jaws' is sinister, but they lack the grandeur of 'Star Wars' & 'Superman'. FIN (pardon the 'Jaws' pun!).

  • Comment number 73.

    ...and, Why Why Why Why Why Why Why 'Electonic-Music' excluded from the running?!!! - you have no justification for this unfounded 'fascism'!!! - 'Blade Runner' - Vangelis etc - no excuse! Shame on you!!!!

  • Comment number 74.

    p.s. My comment is correct. Please support me?

  • Comment number 75.

    I believe the score to Close Encounters of the Third Kind beats both Jaws & Raiders. From the opening titles to the end credits its John Williams at his best.

  • Comment number 76.

    Star Wars obviously


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