Well, if it isn’t our friend with the cello. I’ve been in a Star Wars mood lately, and with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on the horizon, it seems like a good time to revisit some of the best music from the famous film franchise.
Some story elements in the Star Wars movies are pretty weak, but the films have three outstanding strengths.
First is the visual design. Have you seen Darth Vader’s mask and helmet?
Vader’s armor is amazing. So are the TIE fighters, X-wing fighters, Star Destroyers, stormtrooper outfits, and lightsabers, not to mention the Millennium Falcon. These things are iconic for a reason: their visual design is striking and unique.
Another strength of the films is their sound design. Like the visuals, it’s positively iconic: the buzz and hum of lightsabers, Vader’s breathing, the scream of TIE fighters, and the whine of laser weapons. It’s all so good.
The final great strength of Star Wars is its music. John Williams may be one of the greatest film composers ever, and Star Wars is some of his best work. The video above includes my favorite melodies from the films, including “Main Theme,” “Imperial March,” “Duel of the Fates,” and, of course, “Cantina Band.”
Star Wars is a cultural phenomenon for many reasons, including the strengths I’ve mentioned. They give the franchise an enduring quality, which we remember long after we’ve forgotten Luke Skywalker’s whinier moments and Boba Fett’s embarrassing demise.
I grew up on Star Wars. Besides watching the movies, I played whatever Star Wars games I could find. (These included such cult classics as X-Wing on the PC and Rogue Squadron on the N64. Great games!) I also began reading licensed Star Wars novels within a couple of years of learning to read. My first attempt at writing a book, at roughly age eight, was my own take on a Star Wars novel. I wrote about two paragraphs before giving up. (Writing is hard, man.)
By the time I reached middle school, my passion for Star Wars was dwindling. I had moved on to other media franchises, such as The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and The Legend of Zelda. The final Star Wars movie, Episode III, was a disappointment. (The prequels were all disappointments, really, but I didn’t realize it at the time.) No more films were planned. The licensed novels had become steadily more nonsensical. It wasn’t worth keeping up with the franchise’s convoluted narratives.
Star Wars was dying.
Then, just a few years ago, Disney bought Star Wars. A new film entered development.
The clutter of the franchise’s expanded universe—three decades’ worth of contradictory stories by dozens of different writers—was swept away, declared by Disney no longer to be Star Wars canon. The first new Star Wars movie was really good. I hadn’t even dared to hope there would be a new movie, let alone a good one.
After ten or eleven years, I’m recovering my interest in Star Wars. It’s exciting and nostalgic. It’s also oddly comforting, like slipping under a warm blanket patterned with TIE fighters. I’m fond of Star Wars, and I’m glad it’s back.