Friday, April 15, 2016
John Williams Appreciation Post: Star Wars - The Force Theme
One of the curious things about watching all 16 hours of Richard Wagner's Ring Cycle of operas was realizing (a) Williams may have had some idea how he could pull this thing off by looking at an old pro dealing with a multi-generational story, magical themes and heroic quests and (b) how themes and motifs can really work to convey story in ways both overt and subliminally. In short - the music tells the story.
That's not a knock on Williams. Too few composers have applied this hard won knowledge effectively in the world of film. In fact, I think we should be quite satisfied with applying the term "Space Opera" when it comes to Star Wars.
"The Force Theme" is not the fanfare of the titles or the finale awards ceremony. "The Force Theme", to me, rings with a certain melancholy, maybe that same look that's all over Luke's face there at the end of The Force Awakens. There's greatness there, but it comes with a sense of tragedy, perhaps derived from the weight of responsibility and the gift's inherent "otherness" that will set you apart now. There's a swelling undercurrent in the music, a ring of promise that comes after the opening bars, but it's muted, expressing something beyond joy or anger or sorrow.
It's a hell of a piece, and it's the tear jerker of the Star Wars music for nostalgic reasons, sure, but there's something there that hits you dead center as it pushes the story along.