Legendary composer John Williams’ name is synonymous with breathtaking, iconic musical scores for some of the greatest movies of all time, from Christopher Reeve’s Superman films to Indiana Jones to all six chapters of the Star Wars saga. When Lucasfilm was sold to Disney (and a new Star Wars trilogy was announced), fans around the world breathed a collective sigh of relief when director Abrams confirmed the 83-year-old maestro would return to score The Force Awakens.
One of the best things Williams accomplished throughout his six Star Wars scores was developing specific, powerful, and instantly memorable themes for characters and certain vital sequences. There’s the unforgettable main theme; the haunting”Binary Sunset/Force Theme”, which underscores Luke’s longing for a life of adventure as he looks into the twin Tatooine suns; the sweeping “Han Solo & The Princess Love Theme” from The Empire Strikes Back; “Yoda’s Theme”, which sends shivers up the spine during his lifting Luke’s X-Wing out of the bog; and the driving, choral majesty of “Duel Of The Fates” provides thrills for the Darth Maul/Qui-Gon/Obi-Wan lightsaber battle in The Phantom Menace.
The true power of Williams soundtracks is that these themes can be recalled repeatedly to provide emotional resonance to character beats and sequences across films in the Star Wars saga. The Force Awakens will explore the lives of Luke, Han, Leia, and the new generation of heroes and villains (like Rey, Finn, Poe Dameron, and Kylo Ren), 30-plus years after Return Of The Jedi – so can we expect to hear any of these audio touchstones popping up to provide some weight?
Speaking to Vanity Fair – whose June issue features a Star Wars cover story as well as exclusive Annie Lebowitz photos of The Force Awakens characters – Williams confirms that he and director JJ Abrams do intend to revisit some of the saga’s iconic music to connect things to the past:
There are some scenes where we do make reference to earlier thematic pieces. We haven’t done it yet, but we’re planning to do it. It’s something that I think will seem very natural and right in the moments for which we’ve chosen to do these kinds of quotes. There aren’t many of them, but there are a few that I think are important and will seem very much a part of the fabric of the piece in a positive and constructive way.
Williams also addressed an impossible question – with seven Star Wars musical scores under his belt, does he have a favorite?
I really don’t. [Thinks about it for a moment anyway, then laughs] No. I’ve played so many of those pieces in concert over the year, and I think my affection for them, if I can put it that way, is pretty constant thing. If you pressed me, well, you could probably look up the concert programs over the years and say, You favored this one over that one. It’s possible, I don’t know, but I don’t think I can say I have any favorites.
The anticipation of hearing Williams create a Star Wars score that incorporates classic, majestic themes of the previous films into a brand new musical tapestry (for our favorite galaxy far, far away) is almost as exciting as the prospect of seeing new characters in The Resistance pilot X-Wings (or new villains in The First Order swing a cross-bladed lightsaber). Williams’ music is just as vital to communicating the magic of Star Wars as are the visuals of lightsabers and R2 units – and longtime fans may have to cope with the reality that Force Awakens could be the last installment to feature a Williams score.
However, even at age 83, Williams is showing no signs of slowing down. In addition to The Force Awakens score, he will provide music for Steven Spielberg’s upcoming The BFG, and he’ll be performing his legendary music in a series of concerts throughout the summer. As for the future? Well, the 2016 anthology movie Star Wars: Rogue One is being scored by Oscar-winner Alexandre Desplat (Godzilla), but Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: Episode VIII doesn’t have a composer yet. Maybe Williams will be able to sneak in another score, before someone like longtime J.J. Abrams collaborator Michael Giacchino takes over the orchestra on the main Star Wars film saga.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters December 18, 2015; Star Wars: Rogue One on December 16, 2016; Boba Fett origin film in 2017; and Star Wars: Episode VIII (subtitle TBD) on May 26th, 2017
Source: Vanity Fair