So on my recent vacation, I kept myself awake on my long drive by listening to the Star Wars scores of Mr. John Williams (No Clone Wars or video game scores here…but maybe later). And, having now ingested all six as fully as can be had on Compact Disc, I feel confident enough to post my rankings of the scores. As mentioned in my earlier post, the versions used in this were the 2-disc “Ultimate Edition” of Phantom Menace, the standard 2-disc sets of the Original Trilogy, and the single disc releases of Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.
So here it goes…in reverse order…
#5) Episode III – Revenge of the Sith: I’ll say this right now, it was hard to compare the films with only a single disc release against those with 2-disc releases because with the single disc you’re getting only the highlights. That being said, this score was good, but not great. It showed a good integration of themes, and the “Battle of Heroes” music for the final duel between Anakin and Obi-wan was quite good. But it there was still something lacking.
#4) Episode II: Attack of the Clones – Say what you will about the film (and I think it is easily the worst Star Wars movie of all time…maybe even worse than Clone Wars), but I think the score is just as easily the best of the prequels. It is ironic that the Love Theme for Anakin and Padme is among, in my opinion, the best in the series (right up there with the Force Theme, Luke and Leia, and the Imperial March), but yet it is those scenes and their awful dialogue, that utterly destroy episodes II and III.
#3) Episode IV – A New Hope: I always have a problem with ranking both the film and score for the original Star Wars. On the one hand, it is the original and set the stage for what was to come, and there are many great moments and themes (Force Theme, the Jawas, Cantina Band). On the other hand, though, the subsequent scores takes everything to a higher level.
#2) Episode VI – Return of the Jedi: Three words – Battle of Endor. The rest of the score is also good, Jabba’s Theme also being a highlight. But as good as Jedi is, it can’t really compete with…
#1) Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back: So many great moments come from this film, and also introduced many classic themes (Imperial March, Yoda, Han and Leia). The Battle of Hoth sequence is so well scored that one really doesn’t need to watch the film, but just listen, to understand what’s going on. Oh, and Boba Fett’s theme uses a Contrabassoon, which is just cool.
So the question now becomes, why did I decide to rank Phantom Menace last? Well, this is where the question of 2-disc vs. single disc comes in, because in listening to the entire Menace score, there were times when I was kind of bored with it, long stretches, probably underscore for dialogue, that I question why they were scored. In listening to the 2-disc sets for original Trilogy, I experienced no such moments of boredom. So it could be that the scores for II and III were not markedly better than I, but because they were in single-disc sets “seemed” better. Thoughts from the gallery?
Also, I have yet to find out why, in the end credits on the album for Sith, it goes into the Throne Room from New Hope, but doesn’t in the actual film release. I know that there was much editing done after recording, and things are routinely changed, but the fact that it is there makes me wonder if the credits were longer originally, or if there was some sort of mid-credits scene, or something else entirely.
Anybody out there know?