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Film Spoilers Ahead!

I’m paying homage to The Empire Strikes Back this year in recognition of the film’s 40th anniversary. I mentioned in a post last May that it is my favorite of the Star Wars saga. This post is about the incredible music of the film composed by John Williams.

Few people would dispute John Williams’ contributions to motion picture scores. We all know his resume. It includes many of the biggest blockbuster films in history. When he wrote the music for The Empire Strikes Back he was already famous for having composed the scores of numerous films and television shows including Jaws, Star Wars (of course), Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jaws 2, Superman, Dracula (1979 version with Frank Langella and Laurence Olivier, directed by John Badham), and 1941. But his success dates back much farther. His list of films can be found online. Chances are that you will find films and TV show scores composed by him that you never realized he did.

He was already a hot commodity in Hollywood, but Star Wars sent his popularity into the stratosphere. And, as we saw, his star just kept rising and rising with practically every film he scored for the next three plus decades.

His work and the efforts of the London Symphony Orchestra on T.E.S.B. is no different. It is my favorite musical score of the saga, and contributes greatly to the reason that it is my favorite S.W. film. His scores to Star Wars and Return of the Jedi are fantastic in their own right, but what he did for T.E.S.B. elaborates upon those concepts and introduces us to new and memorable themes that have been, and still are, heard throughout the S.W. timeline.

“The Imperial March (Darth Vader’s Theme)” is as iconic now as the theme from Jaws. Almost everyone who hears it knows what it is, or they at least recognize it as a S.W. theme. Its driving, pounding, militaristic sound is heard throughout the film and reminds us that the Empire is always one step behind our heroes. Sometimes, one step too close. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s one of the most popular ringtones for smartphones the world over.

“Yoda’s Theme” is one of my personal favs in the entire series. I never get tired of it. Its quiet and melodic tempo relaxes me every time I hear it. It’s beautiful and meditative.