Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Composed By: Rupert John Williams
Distributed by: Walt Disney Records
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
In 1977, I saw my first Star Wars film with my father, seated in the balcony of an RKO theater that no longer exists. From the moment that the scroll hit the screen, I was hooked, but it was the Main Theme that accompanied the scroll that gave me insight into how a score could enhance the visuals and storyline of a film. I fell in love with John Williams' work then and am still a fan to this day. So when my two loves once again reunited for a new Star Wars film, you knew I had to by the soundtrack.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens takes place thirty years after the destruction of the second Death Star. The world is in turmoil once again. The New Republic has failed and the rise of the First Order, led by Supreme Leader Snoke and his apprentice Kylo Ren, threaten the freedom of an entire galaxy. Leia Organa is called upon to lead a new rebellion while searching for the galaxy's only hope, her self-exiled brother Jedi Luke Skywalker. Ace pilot Poe Dameron finds a missing piece to a map that may reveal his location, but, his capture eminent, he hands it over to his droid BB-8. Can new friends Finn, a former First Order stormtrooper, and Rey, a Jakku scavenger with a mysterious past, get this information back to Leia in time? Or will the First Order use it's newest weapon to annihilate the rebellion once and for all?
With the exception of the animated film, every single feature length Star Wars movie has featured John Williams as the score's composer. With a career spanning over six decades, composer, conductor and pianist John Williams has created some of the most memorable movie scores of all time, including of course Star Wars and E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Jaws, Superman, the Indiana Jones films, Jurassic Park, Schindler's List, the first three Harry Potter films, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Empire of the Sun, Born on the Fourth of July, Home Alone, Memoirs of a Geisha, War Horse, The Book Thief and more.
For each of the prior Star Wars films, the London Symphony Orchestra was used to bring the score to life. This time around, the powers that be decided to use The Hollywood Studio Symphony to perform the music of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. After decades of listening to Star Wars scores performed by the London Symphony Orchestra (I had the LP version of the Star Wars: A New Hope score long before the movie was ever called A New Hope and listened to it daily), I was delighted to discover that the decision to use a different orchestra made little difference.
John Williams' score for Star Wars: The Force Awakens is superb, blending old themes with new ones just as the story brings old heroes back to work with new ones. The opening crawl is accompanied by the Main Theme I fell in love with as a child and segs into Attack on the Jakku Village, bringing the listener right into the action. Rey's Theme is a beautiful blend of exotic innocence and determination featuring the soft tones of the flute. The tune evokes the Binary Sunset (unofficially referred to as Luke's theme) of A New Hope, possibly lending an idea as to Rey's mysterious past. In The Rathtars!, we hear Han's theme interspersed with the action/chase theme that Williams has used so often in the past. Han and Leia features the romantic theme created for the original trilogy with a new twist. I love the Scherzo for X-Wings, an adrenaline pumping theme featuring bits and pieces of the original theme that makes one feel as though they are soaring along side the X-Wing pilots in the film, juking and dodging in an effort to stay alive long enough to destroy their target. The Jedi Steps and Finale are reminiscent of just about every Star Wars film, with the exception of Revenge of the Sith and Return of the Jedi - a moment of tremulous hope moving into the fast paced horns and strings of the Star Wars finale as we rehash some of the main themes in the film until the very last credit disappears from the screen.
I loved the music of Star Wars: The Force Awakens so much, I have already listened to the soundtrack five times and I've only owned it for as many days! John Williams does it again, proving that there is only one composer that can perfectly capture the Star Wars universe. Others may try, but only John Williams has ever been flawless in his approach to the characters, drama and action of each film.