-- SPOILERS lie ahead for The Last Jedi --
The most telling sign of Kylo Ren's future within the Star Wars universe may well be the music that accompanies him onscreen. Arguably the best character in The Last Jedi, Kylo takes some massive steps in the right direction in Episode VIII, especially considering where he got his start. Kylo Ren was actually a pretty divisive character when he was first introduced in The Force Awakens. Tough-to-please Star Wars faithful were quick to label him a whiny, wannabe Darth Vader. His ruthless pursuit of Rebellion heroes like Luke Skywalker and his father, Han Solo, was overshadowed by temper tantrums and an emo vibe that his detractors simply couldn't get past. In their eyes, the former Ben Solo was little more than a nuisance.
But even Kylo Ren's most ardent supporters couldn't have foreseen how far he would come in The Last Jedi. His back and forth between the dark side and the light was compelling. His move to save Rey by cutting down Supreme Leader Snoke was shocking. And Kylo's ultimate choice to take control of the First Order himself was all sorts of badass. He's the villain this new trilogy deserves, but questions of his true faith to the dark side still linger. After betraying Luke, Leia, and Rey once again, is Kylo Ren beyond redemption?
According to an Elite Daily interview with Tufts University musicologist Frank Lehman, yep, he sure is. Based on the musical leitmotifs (themes that accompany one specific person, situation, or idea in a composition) he noticed accompanying Kylo Ren onscreen in The Last Jedi, Lehman sees nothing but darkness in Kylo Ren's future. "We get hints at a possible future for [Kylo's] theme, at least, in the very final scene where he’s marching triumphantly through the evacuated rebel base...it just ends up sounding very pompous and full of itself." Lehman goes on to predict that Kylo will be established as the head of a new empire in Episode IX, thanks to a time jump, but that he'll never quite live up to his role model, Darth Vader.
Lehman explains that Kylo is given three separate themes in The Last Jedi. "The most prominent of them is this defending, growling fanfare, which is over the top in its villainy. It’s almost like it’s overcompensating for his lack of confidence in himself." But even the extended theme Kylo gets at the film's conclusion falls short of Darth Vader's iconic tune. "It can’t quite match up to his predecessor’s music....It will never quite manage the grand malevolence and memorability of the 'Imperial March,' no longer how hard it strains."
It's very possible that Lehman is reading further into the film's score than director Rian Johnson or composer John Williams ever did, but his findings certainly make sense. He also noticed some clues that underlie TLJ's two other big twists, those concerning Rey and Snoke. Rey's theme solely connected to Star Wars classic Force theme and nothing else, which may be further proof that her parents really are nobodies. Snoke doesn't even really get a theme, meanwhile, "which suggests maybe he’s not really the most important character."
Whether or not Johnson and Williams had all this in mind while putting The Last Jedi together is unknown. But hey, it makes a lot more sense than most fan theories. Keep it up, musicologists!
Source: Elite Daily
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019