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Album review – Star Wars: The Force Awakens – John Williams

You’d have to be living under a rock not to know there is a new Star Wars movie out, but what few have mentioned is that this event also brings us a rare new score from film composing legend John Williams.

From the opening fanfare of the main title theme, to the closing suite, Williams composed a rich score that makes that galaxy far, far away come alive. The music to “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” brings back a lot of the thematic material from the franchise, most prominently Luke’s Force theme. That theme is quite a chameleon and goes through many arrangements to represent hope, melancholy and battle. Princess Leia’s theme and her love theme also make an appearance to underscore her relationship with Han Solo. Various elements of the main title fanfare make an appearance throughout to cement the new characters’ place in the mythos.

But that’s not to say that this score is all rehashed material. The film’s female protagonist Rey gets her own theme and various new motifs are used throughout. There’s nothing as expansive and melodic as those old themes, but the score is nonetheless always interesting and never becomes solely functional, something that’s too often heard these days. The score sounds modern while maintaining that neo-romantic style that made Williams one of the most popular film composers of all time. Faithful to his usual method, Williams has assembled the album from the musical highlights of the score with the goal of creating a pleasant listening experience.

It’s almost impossible to consider a new Star Wars movie without John Williams, but it looks like we might have to. The 83 year old has greatly slowed down in recent years (in fact he turned down Steven Spielberg’s latest to concentrate on Force Awakens) and next year’s Star Wars spin-off Rogue One has Alexandre Desplat attached to it as composer. I hope he’ll be back for Episode VIII, especially after such a strong score, but time will tell.

 

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