Review Summary: "[T]he most memorable film score of all time" - American Film Institute. Search your feelings, you know it to be true.When referring to individual tracks, I’ll be going by the 1997 RCA Special Edition.
. Just saying those two words makes me feel more comfortable, more at home. Whenever I watch my 1997 VHS‘s of the Original Trilogy, I’m not only transported to a “galaxy far, far away”, I’m taken (pardon the cliché) back to my childhood. Star Wars
is like this for millions of fans throughout the world, and no matter how much Lucas alters the Holy Trinity (I’m looking at you, Greedo), it will be like this for decades to come.
What makes Star Wars
so timeless? The classic tale of good versus evil? Hope overcoming oppression? Or is the audience identifying with Luke Skywalker’s struggle for his identity? While all of these are certainly factors, there is another that people might overlook. The music. When we see Star Wars
, the first thing that hits us after the immortal “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” isn’t Luke, or the Rebellion, or even anything indicating a struggle between light and dark.
It’s the most powerful movie theme ever written. This is our introduction to Star Wars
. The “Main Title” represents everything about Star Wars
without saying a word. It’s epic, adventurous, romantic, and above all it is triumphant. It’s the hope of the Rebellion as a whole, and Luke Skywalker more specifically. This is the quintessential piece of Star Wars
music, and if you don’t hear it in your head every time you see the logo, I suggest you go watch A New Hope
more times. Let me be clear: The smartest thing Lucas ever did in regards to
Star Wars was having John Williams score it.
Not once during the film’s two hours does the musical quality of a scene falter. From the innocent (“The Dune Sea of Tatooine/Jawa Sandcrawler”, “The Moisture Farm”) to the frantic (“Imperial Attack”, “Landspeeder Search/Attack of the Sand People ”, “Burning Homestead”), the soundtrack ebbs and flows from grand and adventurous to subdued and innocent while at all times maintaining an epic quality. Williams even manages to express this in the background din of a shady bar (“Cantina Band” and “Cantina Band #2”).
While the “Main Title” is the quintessential piece of Star Wars
music, “The Hologram/Binary Sunset” is the most emotional. From the tension of the strings, to the subtle horns, and finally the climactic Binary Sunset itself, this song is the most identifiable piece of music on this album, and any human with any sense of emotion will instantly connect with the feeling of hopelessness and the sense of longing. This is the other standout track of the first half of this album.
The second disc is equally as grand. The tracks here are much more looming (fitting, given the situation the characters find themselves in during the second half of the movie). The horror of “The Destruction of Alderaan”, the absolutely immense “Wookie Prisoner/Detention Block Ambush ” (which features a great interspersing of the main title and the frantic chaos that this soundtrack associates with the Empire), and the transition from despair to action found in “Ben Kenobi's Death/Tie Fighter Attack ” all contribute to the action of the main character’s fateful adventure aboard the Death Star.
The best track from the second half, rivaling even the main title itself, is “The Throne Room/End Title ”. As the title indicates, this is truly something royal. As soon as it begins, there is no doubt that the heroes have triumphed. It also transitions back into the main title, so that the greatest movie theme in history bookends the movie itself. An absolutely stunning way to end this album.
It is not wise to generalize when discussing music or film, but truly, who hasn’t seen Star Wars
that isn’t deliberately avoiding it? This music will all sound familiar to you, and it should. But hearing each piece in its entirety is something awe-inspiring, on par with the film itself as a stand-alone masterpiece. May the Force be with you, and if it isn’t, you will find it in this soundtrack.