What Has The Force Awakened?

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.  

Star_WarsThis 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.  

John Williams, The Empire Strikes Back, Imperial March

John-Williams-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.  

John Williams, Star Wars, Opening Theme

 

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.   

Star Wars The Force Awakens trailer

9 thoughts on “What Has The Force Awakened?

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  1. My family had the opportunity to hear John Williams conduct his own music from Star Wars (and other unforgettable films) with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Never was that music more thrilling to us and, as was apparent, to the sell-out crowd that sat rapt through every note. Mr. Williams has a way of writing music that stirs the heart and soul and makes a good movie so much better.

  2. I believe Mr. Williams will be remembered 100 years from now as a contemporary composer and visionary.

    Although I have not see a Star Wars movie since the 70s, I absolutely think he is able to tie a modern culture to its medium.

  3. Saw it yesterday. No spoilers. Disclaimer: I didn’t bother with the second trilogy because “Return of the Jedi” was soooo baaaad (I thought the ending echoed Ilia’s default finale for all the Greek myths in “Never On Sunday”: “And they all go to the seashore.” I think the new production successfully rebooted everything iconic and beloved about the original movie, with the golden improvement of giving the women in the story something to do except be rescued. It needed to happen.

    Williams has figured out two important things that way too many “modern” composers cannot seem to grasp: compelling thematic material is important, and instrumental color can never be too intense or saturated. I’ll argue with you about the trumpet — it’s my least favorite instrument — but spot you if you’ll admit that the French horn is what God plays.

    I sometimes astonish people by informing them that Prokofiev, Goldman, Walton and Finzi were film composers. For some reason “movie music” has come to mean “bastardized music,” neglecting Sturgeon’s Law, which notes that “ninety per cent of everything is crap.”

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