From BTR1701@21:1/5 to All on Sat Dec 21 16:36:20 2019
With this score, John Williams puts a coda on a four decade, nine film
musical journey, something no other film composer has ever done (and may
never do again).
Overall, it's a fantastic score. Williams brings back some familiar
favorites-- themes for the Emperor, Leia, Vader, Yoda, Brother & Sister,
and even the little droid motif he used in EMPIRE for R2 and 3PO and
then seemed to abandon makes a brief return here. He takes those
familiar leitmotifs and weaves them around and through his more recent additions to the saga: themes for Rey and Poe, Kylo Ren and the
Resistance, plus some new material just for this film.
There's a hymn-like cantilena that forms a complete concert piece on the
album titled, appropriately, 'The Rise of Skywalker' that is Williams at
his best and will likely be a performance staple at orchestral concerts
for many years to come.
Two more major motifs-- 'Anthem of Evil' and 'Knights of Ren' round out
the new additions. I have not yet seen the movie, so I have no idea how
these figure into the story, but they certainly set a distinct mood.
Also, the cue 'The Speeder Chase' is a fantastic action set-piece that
shows off the orchestra's virtuosity in magnificent fashion.
The one stumble that mars an otherwise perfect closure is the 'Finale'
cue. Basically the end credit music. Williams traditionally uses the
freedom from on-screen material that the end credits provide to create a through-composed symphonic overture out of the film's melodic and
thematic material. I was very much looking forward to what he was going
to do with this film's end credit piece considering its relatively
historic nature. However, it turns out to be one of rare times Williams
has disappointed me.
The end credits space was Williams's opportunity to wave a musical
goodbye to the franchise, the fans, and basically 40+ years of his
life's work, and instead of new, original, and poignant material, he
basically copy/pasted the Imperial March from the Hal Leonard Signature
Series, did some admittedly cool stuff with Rey's theme, then restated
the Main Title right in the middle of the cue and copy/pasted the last
several minutes of the RETURN OF THE JEDI finale.
It's like he finished scoring the film, then realized he still had
almost 11 minutes of credits to fill and was like, "I'm tired of this,
I'll just take a bunch of stuff from the previous films that'll fill the
time and call it a day." I thought his end credits music in FORCE
AWAKENS was far superior, the way it ends on a variation of the Rebel
Fanfare, then a quiet denouement to a major chord in the basses with
Luke's theme quietly ringing out in solo celeste. That was an emotional gut-punch the first time I heard it. This was just, "Oh, that again?
I've heard that a dozen times in every Hollywood Bowl concert ever."
Several people on the film score discussion groups that I frequent have speculated that Williams was probably told to do it that way by Abrams
or Disney. I suppose that's possible. I have no idea if that's what
happened or not, but I just can't imagine why Abrams or Disney would
care all that much about which themes/music are playing over the end
credits when most people, let's face it, are leaving the theater. It
just doesn't strike me as something they would be concerned enough with
to veto whatever Williams wanted to do and basically order him to
recycle a bunch of old material instead.
Anyway, that's the one sour note on an otherwise magnificent effort.
Wouldn't be surprised to see Williams pick up another Oscar for this one.