In May of 1977, my mother took me to see the original Star Wars movie in the theater. In fact, that summer we went to the movie theater several times to see Luke Skywalker, Obi wan Kenobi and Han Solo fly through a galaxy far, far away. Those days when you could only see a movie in the cinema seem like a long, long time ago. The second movie in the series was eagerly awaited, and in May of 1980 The Empire Strikes Back fulfilled all our expectations, and more.
This past week, my five year old grandson went to see his first Star Wars film in the theater. He has long been indoctrinated into the Star Wars universe, and went around this past Halloween as Anakin Skywalker. He was mortified when I handed him the wrong color light saber toy to go with his costume. The green one belongs to Luke, and only the blue one could go with his Anakin costume. His father took off work to take the young Jedi to the matinee showing of The Force Awakens, recreating memories from his own childhood (as well as mine). When we visited the family on December 24th, I asked my oldest grandson how he liked the movie. He immediately crossed his arms and pursed his lips and looked at me with a serious look in his eye. He said in a low voice “I’m not telling you about it”. I was puzzled. “Did you like it?” I asked. Again he repeated, “I’m not going to tell you about it”. His father came over to explain that he made the boy promise not to tell grandpa all about the movie, since grandpa hadn’t seen it yet. It apparently is against the Jedi code to provide spoilers from a new Star Wars movie.
One of the most powerful things about this series of space operas, and one of the most timeless, is the music. A powerful consistency is generated through all of the movies by having orchestral scores composed by John Williams. Mr. William has composed some of the most iconic film music ever written, including Jaws, all seven Star Wars films, Superman, the Indiana Jones series, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Jurassic Park, and three Harry Potter films. I remember being a young boy and having the soundtrack to the original movie (now subtitled A New Hope) on vinyl record, and playing it on a small record player. Sometimes I got to play it on the big record player in the living room, which had two cabinet speakers that often played Neil Diamond records.
I am certain that the opening theme of Star Wars is a big reason I took up the trumpet as an instrument to play. John Williams was also the conductor of the Boston Pops orchestra, which appeared on television frequently during his tenure. I always thought that every concert should include a trumpet concerto. I remember being truly annoyed that he didn’t play the Haydn concerto for trumpet at every broadcast.
I don’t know if the music to the new Star Wars movie, also composed by John Williams, will inspire my grandson to become interested in orchestra music the way I did. I do know I will have to see the new movie soon just to know what the young boy is talking about.