Joshua Gizelt (swashbuckler332) wrote,
Joshua Gizelt

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Clouded, this boy's future is...

The Star Wars prequel trilogy CD has been redone. The track listing and notes for the new version can be found here.

Sith Happens

I have finally completed the finishing stages of the companion disc to my Star Wars Trilogy mix. I was much more lenient in certain ways about what I allowed because I sort of had to be; this time around I did use some concert arrangements, but in this case, it was necessary. This disc just wouldn't be complete without "Duel of the Fates" or "Anakin's Theme," which were written for the albums... "Duel of the Fates" was tracked several times into Phantom Menace and Revenge of the Sith, though, and both were featured in that film's end credits, but I also used some of the album edits as well.

Overall, however, I am pretty happy with the results. It took me a lot longer to get a final edit on this disc than it did the first, but that was only to be expected. I played around with the order of the tracks a bit, but the basic shape of the album remained what I had hoped for. Because I really do feel that I came as close to definitive as possible with this album's predecessor (and I've gotten uniformly positive feedback on it, especially from people who are big Star Wars and/or John Williams fans), I considered this one a great challenge and really strived to maintain that level of quality in the production of this one. It was easier in a way, because this series just wasn't as iconic as the original, and so I could just concentrate on the music itself, which I boiled down to essentials.

This is a more bombastic mix than the last one, mostly because of the shapes of the films themselves and how Williams had to respond to them. There is a very different flavor, Some of it generated by the fact that while the first trilogy's album was geared towards brining about a triumphant conclusion, this one works towards in the opposite direction, coming from the light into a much darker place. Furthermore, Williams' style was radically changed. The first trilogy was straight-up lietmotif scoring. The prequels have been much more ambient, having themes form slowly over time. The central example of this is, of course, the formation of the Imperial March, which comes primarily from elements of Anakin's theme and that of the Trade Federation, but also inhabits many other themes and motives heard throughout the trilogy. Hints of the shape of things to come emerge from everywhere.

Creating this album has actually given me an even greater respect for what John Williams has been bringing to these movies, but also a greater jadedness towards the films themselves. They don't deserve music this good. On the other hand, Williams created georgeous, dramatic music that I hope to have crafted into a portrait of what these films should have been.

The music is the thing here, and there was a lot to choose from. I went with what struck me as being essential, however, and I was lucky in that I felt that while there were moments in the scores of Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith that were excellent that don't appear on the albums, these two scores were served quite well by their album presentations, unlike the unfortunate album from The Phantom Menace. Don't get me wrong, the CD had some great music on it, but the mishmashed presentation was just godawful. Some of these issues were cleared up by the release of "The Ultimate Edition," which was a two disc set that was essentially the isolated score, but that meant that it came complete with all of the jarring edits towards the end. It would have been nicer had they taken the approach RCA Victor did with their complete sets of Star Wars and Empire (the Jedi one is messier), but I'll take what I can get. As it stands, knowing the scores from the movies themselves, I think that this is a pretty good representation of the music from the trilogy as a whole. I like it, anyway.*

A Symphonic Suite from the Original Motion Picture Soundtracks

Composed and Conducted by


1. Twentieth Century Fox Fanfare (with CinemaScope Extension) 0:23
Composed by Alfred Newman
Star Wars Main Title and Arrival At Naboo (The Phantom Menace) 2:11
The Meadow Picnic (Attack of the Clones) 2:24
It's Working (The Phantom Menace) 1:22
General Grievous (Revenge of the Sith) 4:01
Duel of the Fates (The Phantom Menace) 4:10
The Tusken Camp and the Homestead (Attack of the Clones) 4:22
Anakin's Dark Deeds (Revenge of the Sith) 3:55
Arrival At Tatooine (The Phantom Menace) 1:18
The Clone Army (Attack of the Clones) 0:26
Anakin's Betrayal (Revenge of the Sith) 3:51
Anakin Hunts (Attack of the Clones) 2:42
Battle of the Heroes (Revenge of the Sith) 3:34
Departure From Tatooine and Coruscant (The Phantom Menace) 7:45
Bounty Hunter's Pursuit (Attack of the Clones) 1:27
Escape from Naboo (The Phantom Menace) 3:34
Love Pledge and the Arena (Attack of the Clones) 8:06
The Battle for Naboo Suite (The Phantom Menace) 6:05
Anakin vs. Obi-Wan (Revenge of the Sith) 3:52
The Funeral of Qui-Gon (The Phantom Menace) 1:40
The Immolation Scene (Revenge of the Sith) 2:34
Finale (Attack of the Clones) 7:48
Anakin's Theme (The Phantom Menace) 3:08


Liner Notes

We start off with the no-brainers. Alfred Newman's immortal Twentieth Century Fox Fanfare, with it's scintillating CinemaScope Extension opens this album as it did the last, followed of course by the now-classic opening presentation of Luke's theme of all six films, this one from The Phantom Menace. The opening scroll is followed by Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan's "Arrival at Naboo," a stately piece which was listed as being on the original soundtrack album, but was in reality "Arrival at Coruscant," which appeared on that album twice (and is incorporated here into track 14).

In keeping with the idea of moving from the light into the darkness, I brought in the euphoric "The Meadow Picnic" from Attack of the Clones with its flourishes and grand statement of "Across the Stars," the Anakin/Padmé love theme; despite the eye-rolling nature of these scenes, it is a beautiful melody. We then take a step back for the moving "It's Working" from Phantom Menace, an excerpt from which I used in my previous compilation, Flight; the cue here continues further to include an innocent presentation of Anakin's theme, which is a primary building block of the notorious Imperial March, which Williams hints at throughout the trilogy.

We then kick into overdrive with the relentless brass and percussion of "General Grievous" from Revenge of the Sith, which would illustrate the cyborg's vicious fighting style (used to better advantage in Genndy Tartakovsky's Clone Wars animated micro-series than it ever was in the film), but is instead used to score Obi-Wan's steed. This leads directly into the exciting chorus of "Duel of the Fates." This was originally recorded for the album and end credits, but George Lucas fell so in love with the track that he ended up dropping it into the climax of Phantom Menace and Revenge of the Sith. Things slow down for a moment Anakin sneaks into a Sandpeople settlement in "The Tusken Camp and the Homestead," which leads to an operatic moment after Shmi dies and Anakin struggles with his rage; a dark and foreboding passage follows including a frenzied arrangement of the Imperial March as Anakin then relates his slaughter of the Tusken Raiders to Padmé. A mournful yet subdued choir (somewhat reminiscent of Howard Shore's Ring tempation motif from The Lord of the Rings trilogy) opens "Anakin's Dark Deeds," which then quickly opens out into another large-scale section as Anakin goes about carrying out Palpatine's orders and carries out his raid on the Jedi Temple. This is followed by the wrenching final metamorphosis of Anakin's theme, leading into a very dark crescendo before it becomes the full on Darth Vader theme as the full extent of his turning to the dark side is understood.

We take a moment for the intrigue of the Phantom Menace cue "Arrival At Tatooine" follow, which is followed by "The Clone Army," which presents the theme that Williams introduced in Phantom Menace for the Federation forces, but becomes another one of the building blocks of the Imperial March. The sorrowful "Anakin's Betrayal" from Revenge of the Sith is heard as the Jedi are massacred across the galaxy. Shades of "Across the Stars" color this melancholy cue. "Anakin Hunts" from Attack of the Clones opens with a foreboding motif that opens out into the Force theme in an arrangement similar to that heard in "The Princess Appears" (A.K.A. "Binary Sunset") in the original Star Wars before segueing into a furious reprise of "Duel of the Fates." I then crossfade this directly into "Battle of the Heroes" from Sith, which is the final development of that particular thematic thread. Williams incorporates a new motif based on that ol' chestnut "Dies Irae." This was the single track from Sith.

We take a pause from staring into the abyss with a sequence from Phantom Menace, "Departure From Tatooine and Coruscant," much of which is some of the best music in the film but was not included on the original release. It prominently features several variations on the monastic theme for Qui-Gon that barely appears on the original CD. Happily, "The Ultimate Edition," for all its flaws, filled this void. Qui-Gon's theme is heard in a straightforward setting, but this leads to an emotional passage as Anakin leaves his mother behind culminating in the most powerful presentation of the Force theme heard in the new trilogy. Percussion and whispered Sanskrit chants from "Duel of the Fates" mark the appearance of Darth Maul, and which leads to as spirited version of Qui-Gon's theme as the two duel. An iconic moment occurs as he then introduces Anakin to Obi-Wan followed by a crescendo that I used to seque into "Arrival at Coruscant." "Bounty Hunter's Pursuit," Obi-Wan's prickly encounter with Jango Fett in the rings of Geonosis in Attack of the Clones is a splashy piece that leads to mysteriouso textures. Things don't stay quiet for long (this is a Star Wars album, after all), and the exciting "Escape from Naboo" cue (which has been tracked into the prequel trilogy countless times elsewhere) follows, a great bit of orchestral fireworks. The action then takes us to Naboo, where the Viceroy of the Trade Federation informs Lord Darth Sidious that Queen Amidala escaped, which features the low male choir motif Williams introduced for Emperor Palpatine in Return of the Jedi. "Across the Stars" is given a rapturous showing in "Love Pledge and the Arena" as Padmé and Anakin are brought into a Geonosian stadium to await the sentence of Count Dooku, where they meet up with Obi-Wan. The action then starts and doesn't let up as they fight for their lives as the brass and percussion sections of the London Symphony Orchestra get another chance to show what they're made of. Much of this cue was sliced and diced in the final edit of Attack of the Clones or replaced with material from Phantom Menace. Some of that material is heard in the next track (this does not imply an approval of the hack job done on the music tracks of these films).

"The Battle for Naboo Suite" was a decision that came to me late in the development of thist album. The finale of The Phantom Menace was such an editorial mess in the film, cutting in "Duel of the Fates" and music from elsewhere in the film (which is what is unfortunately replicated on "The Ultimate Edition" CDs) that I went to the original CD edits, which seem to be closer to what Williams had planned for the climax of the film than what actually is heard in the movie. I therefore decided to make a suite out of this material. I used "The Droid Invasion and the Appearance of Darth Maul" and "The Sith Spacecraft and the Droid Battle" from the original Phantom Menace CD (both of which are mislabelled) for the Trade Federation theme and the space battle and the confluence of the Force theme and "Duel of the Fates" in the galvanizing "The Tide Turns" from the "Ultimate Edition" to conclude the suite. I'm very happy with the results. We return to the material introduced in "Battle of the Heroes" in "Anakin vs. Obi-Wan," only this time it is periodically interrupted by quotes of the Imperial March as Palpatine combats Yoda. These quotes are the most direct references to the music of the original trilogy in the new one; a cue from The Empire Strikes Back in particular, "The Clash of Lightsabers."

A subdued statement of the Imperial March leads into "The Funeral of Qui-Gon" (A.K.A. "Qui-Gon's Funeral," I just think this has more dignity to it) from Phantom Menace introduces a choral setting for the Force theme that would be reprised at the conclusion of Revenge of the Sith for the burial of Padmé. We then open out into an adaptation of the full on "Imperial March (Darth Vader's Theme)" from The Empire Strikes Back as the finale and end credits sequence from Attack of the Clones begins. The rest of the track consists of theme and variations of "Across the Stars," save for the "Ya gotta have it" presentation of Luke's theme and the Rebel Fanfare that announces the end credits of each Star Wars feature (although that second statement of Luke's theme has gone through some alterations over the course of the series from its longest incarnation in Star Wars [or A New Hope or Episode IV or whatever he wants to @&$%ing call it now] to not even appearing in Empire). The subdued ending features a brief statement of Anakin's theme and then a dark version of the Imperial March which I managed to dovetail into "Anakin's Theme," a concert arrangement that was used for the end credits of The Phantom Menace thus bringing us backwards all the way to the full innocence of the character. It was always my intention to close the album with this track as it did end the first film in the trilogy. I toyed with the idea of putting in the Darth Vader breathing at the end that were featured in the movie's sound mix, but I decided that since this was about the music that I should leave it about the music.

Regardless of the dubious quality of the film's themselves - and yes, I admit that I have been hanging on to every detail in them in spite of my misgivings because, like most people of my generation, I'm addicted to Star Wars (it just seems to scratch a certain itch nothing else really does, even if they're much better movies... and you damn well know the ones I'm talking about) - the music is great. I was actually surprised as I went through the scores again how entrancing so much of the music from Attack of the Clones really is. I do, however, feel that Revenge of the Sith is my favorite score of the prequel trilogy.

So there it is then...

The Jedi Maestro Strikes Back

* I was originally going to paraphrase Dr. Frank N. Furter by stating parenthetically, "I didn't mix it for you!" but I don't know how many people would get that.
Tags: film music, john williams, my mixes, star wars
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