I’d make some form of witty pun or elaborate intro but that’s just unnecessary. Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens this week. The time is now. To celebrate, I’d like to take a journey through the soundtrack work of the legendary John Williams, who did return to score The Force Awakens. Yes, we all know the main themes, but there’s a treasure trove of interesting musical ideas that flow throughout the films and some don’t get the attention they deserve. So, here’s a deeper cut from each of the films (including the prequels because its not the soundtrack’s fault those films exist)!
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace – Jar Jar’s Introduction/The Swim to Otoh Gunga
The only good thing to come out of Jar Jar Binks is this piece of John Williams going maximum whimsy. It doesn’t quite fit with Star Wars generally because of the playful little peaks and reluctance to sit steady for more than 30 seconds but in saying that, actual world-building is something that it’s difficult to fault George Lucas for at least trying, even if it’s the odd one out at the party.
Star Wars Episode II: Attack Of The Clones – The Meadow Picnic
The flute melody overruling ‘The Meadow Picnic’ is something that really rests easy on the ears. The image of a struggling Jedi at a time of war enjoying some fleeting butterflies in the stomach with a significant other is framed really astutely when you listen to this away from the film itself. Sadly, Attack of the Clones is a visual mess that truly lets down a soundtrack that, in this film, was building towards something other than what the director was seeing.
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith – Grievous And The Droids
John Williams was making a different trilogy to George Lucas. I’m convinced of it. Revenge of the Sith has such a dark, clawed set of compositions that totally befit the downfall of a dream – who knew that downfall was our own expectations in the Star Wars movies being dismantled over the course of an entirely trilogy?
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope – The Walls Converge
Another brooding theme, ‘The Walls Converge’ is something that only gently whispers of being from the Star Wars we know and love. There’s drops of regency and diplomatic tension, but overall this isn’t pleasant. It’s paranoid, perhaps a little delusional. A mood-setter for the narrative themes rather than the narrative itself.
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back – Hyperspace
The Millenium Falcon going into hyperspace will forever be a great moment of science fiction and it’s complimented by a wonderfully ’80s piece of soundtrack that just typifies classic adventure. Strap in!
Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi – Rebel Brief
I adore the optimism of this piece. So grand, so wide sounding. The calm of a plan put together before the final execution, wonderful!
What are your favorite Star Wars pieces? Let us know in the comments!