Star Wars: The Last Jedi – John Williams

John Williams - The Last Jedi

Not everyone is familiar with film music, however, most people are able to hum the Star Wars theme. When the film came out in 1977, apart from the stunning visuals for that time, the iconic music, written by John Williams, contributed to its huge success. Forty years later Williams is still composing for the franchise with Star Wars: The Last Jedi. It has been a long time for me to go to a movie completely blind: I managed to avoid seeing any of the trailers and did not hear anything of the score, making the initial blast of the famous theme with yellow scrolling text quite a treat.

After seeing the movie, which I wholeheartedly recommend, it is time to review the score. “Main Title and Escape” sets the tone very well, it is a mix of all kinds of familiar themes and musical sound effects in brass combined with small melodies to support the action on screen. Recurring themes are something that you will hear a lot in this score. A good example is “Ahch-To Island”:  all kinds of themes can be heard in this track, like “Jedi Steps,” “The Force Theme,” and “Rey’s Theme” all combined together, ending with a newly written theme for this movie. The dark themes are wonderfully mashed up together in “Revisiting Snoke” with themes from Snoke, Kylo Ren, and even a hint to Darth Vader. “The Supremacy” contains a unique version of “Princess Leia’s Theme” with part of the melody done on piano, some eerie effects and a big finale. In “Fun With Finn and Rose” we are introduced to the first new theme for this movie, written for the Rose character, which I will name “Rose’s Theme” for that reason. It is a beautifully simple melody, written for the woodwinds, demonstrating the kindness of the character.

“The Rebellion Is Reborn” is full of new music: it contains elements  from Rose’s theme but also the music we heard before in “Ahch-To Island” which we shall name “Rebellion’s Theme.” That theme sounds like a march with a melody of short tones sometimes in woodwinds and sometimes in brass. “Canto Bight” starts with orchestral music until the bar music sets in. It’s comparable to the “Cantina Band” from the old Star Wars movies but reimagined as would be forty years later. It uses the same instruments, but with different melodies. All in all, it is a fun and happy experience to listen to. “The Fathiers” is a piece with a steady pace with all kinds of melodies and orchestral sound effects laid on top of it together with some snippets of “Rose’s Theme.” To keep this review spoiler-free, the only thing I’d like to say about “The Sacred Jedi Texts,” is that it is a great mashup of two old themes. “The Battle of Crait” is battle music that is to be expected in a Star Wars movie. It even contains some musical patterns from the battle music from the first Star Wars movie from forty years ago, making my heart pump slightly faster with excitement. It also features some choir parts to enhance the emotion of that scene. “Peace and Purpose” contains one of the best scenes from the movie for a soundtrack lover because “The Force Theme” matches perfectly with the visuals on the screen. “Finale” is what can be expected: it contains all the musical highlights of this score and is a very good reason to sit through the whole end credits.

I did not highlight every track on the album, but that does not mean they are not worth listening to. Most of them are playing with the character themes a lot, stitched together with many musical sound effects that can be expected from a Star Wars score. In a way, that is what the whole score basically is: a musical homage to all the previous Star Wars scores, not including the prequel trilogy from 15 years ago. The Empire Strikes Back was the successor of A New Hope, and it contained new music like “The Imperial March” and “Yoda’s Theme” which are considered classics. The Force Awakens also spawned some new themes that are very enjoyable to listen to like “Rey’s Theme,” “March of the Resistance,” “Scherzo for X-Wings” and “Jedi Steps.” I do not think that this score has tracks that have the same potential. This movie did not introduce that many new characters except for Rose, making creating new themes not really necessary. However, that does not make this score less enjoyable, far from it. It is definitely a score worthy of the Star Wars franchise. John Williams showed us again, that, after forty years, he still is the master of creating perfect film music for a space opera and I cannot wait to hear his music for this trilogy’s conclusion.

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Tracklist

The highlights are in bold.

  1. Main Title and Escape
  2. Ahch-To Island
  3. Revisiting Snoke
  4. The Supremacy
  5. Fun with Finn and Rose
  6. Old Friends
  7. The Rebellion is Reborn
  8. Lesson One
  9. Canto Bight
  10. Who Are You?
  11. The Fathiers
  12. The Cave
  13. The Sacred Jedi Texts
  14. A New Alliance
  15. Chrome Dome
  16. The Battle of Crait
  17. The Spark
  18. The Last Jedi
  19. Peace and Purpose
  20. Finale

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