Maestro, Another Epic, If You Please?
As we close in to The Force Awaken’s release, the thrills just keep on coming. Lucasfilm revealed the official track listing for John William’s hugely anticipated score; and though no massive spoilers are given away (remember “Qui-Gon’s Funeral” on The Phantom Menace soundtrack?), some interesting tidbits are shared that will surely intensify our curiosity and expectations for the film – if such a thing is possible. I’m not sure I’ve been this ramped up for a movie or its soundtrack since…well, since the Phantom Menace!
I would say, though, overall, the track listing keeps in line with Disney and Abram’s penchant for cleverly revealing enough to wet our appetites without giving too much away. We get some little nuggets that keep our speculative selves on our toes, but nothing too substantial. Just like the trailers, we’re given a glimpse through the proverbial crack in the door to the new saga. We get a couple new names, a few hints of scenes, but no major plot reveals or anything that might clue us in on the fate of the characters.
So here’s the track listing, if you dare or desire to look upon it…
1. Main Title and the Attack on the Jakku Village
2. The Scavenger
3. I Can Fly Anything
4. Rey Meets BB-8
5. Follow Me
6. Rey’s Thème
7. The Falcon
8. That Girl with the Staff
9. The Rathtars!
10. Finn’s Confession
11. Maz’s Counsel
12. The Starkiller
13. Kylo Ren Arrives at the Battle
14. The Abduction
15. Han and Leia
16. March of the Resistance
18. On the Inside
19. Torn Apart
20. The Ways of the Force
21. Scherzo for X-Wings
22. Farewell and the Trip
23. The Jedi Steps and Finale
Pretty cool, eh?
Interesting that the track listing begins with the Main Title (of course) and Attack on the Jakku Village. Almost every trailer has shown a desperate Rey and Finn running through the sand as chaos ensues all about them – tie fighters wreaking explosive havoc on what appears to be a modest little settlement of tents and hovels. It’s doesn’t take an astromech droid to surmise this action piece is what sets our story in motion. There’s a theme for Rey. Not surprising, as she is one of our new main heroines. It’ll be interesting to hear this, as each of the main characters’ themes has always mirrored something of their inner workings or struggle. The themes become one of the main identifiers to specific characters, a thing that helps we, the audience, become more emotionally invested in them.
We get mention of things that have been hotly debated the last couple years. One I find intriguing is the track entitled “Maz’s Counsel,” that furthers the notion that Maz is some sort of wise old sage who knows something of the force and the characters it influences. With what little we know of Maz and her spoken lines in the trailers, the word “counsel” on its own imbues images of heroes seeking advice or direction from her. What does she know? What more will she say, how much knowledge does she possess, and how much will her influence drive the story? We shall soon see.
We have a very familiar couple names, “Han and Leia.” Ah, now this is like coming home. But it’ll be interesting to see what new themes Williams wraps around the old ones. Just as the Star Wars story arcs were written with many recurring themes, so have the musical cues wound their way back into the fold throughout the entire saga. Familiar melodies have often snuck their way into newer ones, and with new twists to boot. The more that things change, the more they stay the same.
There’s a track called “Snoke” that gives us nothing more then confirmation that there is indeed a character named Snoke in the film, or, at least, Snoke has some influence on the events in the Force Awakens. We know Andy Serkis filmed scenes as this character, but how much of him will be revealed? Perhaps he’ll exist merely in the shadows, as a hologram, just as the emperor did in the first two installments of the original trilogy. Is he the Palpatine of this new era as is widely believed…?
Then there’s “Scherzo for X-wings.” I couldn’t be happier that the x-wings themselves get their own theme, or at least are the main focus of this piece. Such an integral part of classic Star Wars, these starships have always ushered in an exciting scene, leading the attack on both death stars and now perhaps on Starkiller Base itself. Though I like to imagine that Scherzo sounds like some gadget that helps the ole’ T-70 starfighter’s doohickey work. “Red 7, my scherzo’s out, I’ll have to switch to manual!”
Other notables are “Kylo Ren Arrives at the Battle” (can’t wait to see that!), Torn Apart,” and “The Ways of the Force.” Oh, the implications of these titles have me twiddling my fingers expectantly. These titles all have me believe that the Force Awakens is going to to be chock full of action and suspense. Sounds fun.
And oh, brother, that last track – “The Jedi Steps and Finale.” The Jedi Steps… Could this be where we see the holy grail of the movie, and Finn and/or Rey literally march up the steps of Skellig Island to come face to face with legendary Jedi Master Luke Skywalker? The Jedi Steps. Gives me chills, quite frankly. It can be taken literally and figuratively. Steps will be climbed, and perhaps the journey of a new jedi will have begun. The force, and a whole new story, will awaken indeed.
So there we have it. It’s extremely exciting. For film score aficionados, the soundtrack is a treasure all on its own. The famous opening main theme title for Star Wars is arguably the most recognizable music ever put to film. It could also be argued as the most affective. With the blaring of those horns, we knew we were in for something big. There’s something about that rousing theme makes me feel like I’m watching Star Wars for the first time, every time I watch it. As much as we delight in the amazing worlds, starships, and characters of the Star Wars universe; and as otherworldly and fantastic as they are portrayed, we feel bonded to them largely in part to the emotions conveyed by the music. John William’s score did as much for the success of the movie as any visual. The music took these outlandish, alien attributes and imbued them with a human heart. There was the tie to us here on earth to that galaxy far, far away.
And now the musical magician has yet another trick up his sleeve. I cannot wait to hear it, to soak it in, and drift away… George Lucas once said that a special effect without a story is a boring thing. I’ll run alongside of that thought with another – A Star Wars story without John William’s music just wouldn’t be quite the same.