To celebrate Star Wars Day, May 4th, we look back at the iconic soundtracks to all the films, even the prequels.
In 1977, when the original Star Wars was released, no-one could have predicted how massive the franchise it launched would grow to be. Among those who worked on that now-iconic film was the composer John Williams, recommended to George Lucas by Steven Spielberg after they collaborated on Jaws. The score to A New Hope introduced themes that are revisited throughout the franchise. There is the Main Theme that accompanies the Title Card, the theme for "The Force" introduced in the track "Binary Sunset", and there is also the Princess Leia Theme:
The Empire Strikes Back, released in 1980, gives us undoubtedly the most memorable villainous film theme in the form of "The Imperial March":
The final part of the trilogy, Return of the Jedi, was released in 1983 and utilises many of the themes of the previous films, although it does introduce a chilling motif for the Emperor:
With the trilogy complete, John Williams had bolstered his reputation as one of the great composers and the story of a galaxy far, far away had been told...
...Until 1999, when the first of the prequels was released. The artistic merits of the prequel trilogy can be debated endlessly, but John Williams' score was one of the highlights. The Phantom Menace contributes the epic battle theme "Duel of the Fates":
Attack of the Clones, aside from listing reasons to dislike sand, introduces a new Love theme, entitled "Across the Stars":
Finally, Revenge of the Sith tops "Duel of the Fates" with the appropriately named "Battle of the Heroes":
With the prequel trilogy complete, John Williams had further cemented his reputation as one of the greatest film composers, and the story of a galaxy far, far away had been fully told...
...Until 2015, when after acquiring Lucasfilm and the Star Wars brand, Disney released the first of a sequel trilogy, The Force Awakens. John Williams again returned to score, and introduced a new theme for a new protagonist:
Also introduced in the sequel trilogy is a heroic counterpart to "The Imperial March", "March of the Resistance":
The Disney era has also seen two Star Wars films without a John Williams soundtrack. The first, Rogue One, was scored by Michael Giacchino whose work is clearly influenced by Williams' previous scores:
Solo, the second Disney era spin-off, was mostly scored by John Powell, although John Williams does contribute a new theme for Han Solo:
Unfortunately, there will soon be no more new John Williams Star Wars scores. Once this year's The Rise of Skywalker is released, 42 years after it all began, he will return from the galaxy far, far away and hand over to someone else. Whoever that may be, the influence of the soundtracks that have come before will always be felt across the Star Wars franchise and far beyond. As far as influences go, there aren't many better than this:
Sound Seeker has a variety of composers and musicians featured on the site. Here, you can find out a little bit more about a few of them: