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 Posted:   Jun 9, 2021 - 8:53 AM   
 By:   HAL 2000   (Member)

So it's been a while since the dust settled around the Sequel Trilogy and I've spent some time taking a musical journey through all of John Williams' Star Wars Saga scores. I've found that, despite a stunning level of consistent quality in the writing throughout all the scores, there are clear musical distinctions between the trilogies. After listening to all 9 scores I've determined that the Original Trilogy scores are my personal favorites. I love them all but Williams set a template with those scores (A New Hope, The Empire Strikes back, Return of the Jedi) and never quite recaptured the essence and spirit of them in his subsequent efforts. Again, they are all fantastic and each fits the tone of each trilogy but for me the first three are still the defining Star Wars scores.

The question is, where do you land on this topic. Curious to know.

 
 Posted:   Jun 9, 2021 - 8:57 AM   
 By:   GOLDSMITHDAKING   (Member)

What is this ' Sequel trilogy ' you speak of? Everyone knows that the Skywalker saga consists of six movies.

 
 Posted:   Jun 9, 2021 - 8:59 AM   
 By:   Yavar Moradi   (Member)

Scores:
1. Original Trilogy
2. Sequel Trilogy
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3. Prequel Trilogy

Films:
1. Original Trilogy
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2. Sequel Trilogy
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3. Prequel Trilogy

Yavar

 
 Posted:   Jun 9, 2021 - 9:14 AM   
 By:   W. David Lichty [Lorien]   (Member)

The question is, where do you land on this topic. Curious to know.

I especially wonder how people match up the prequel and sequel sets. For me, the original trilogy's supremacy is strong reality, and while I don't assume all fall in that way, it feels to me like not only are there 6 more years between the originals and the prequels than there are between prequels and sequels, but they even seem like longer years, like Williams was in a very different era, or mode, from 1977-1983, and is in a much more similar era or mode within the years spanning from 1999-2019. I have a slight preference for the prequel scores overall, perhaps even if I compared sets of highlight tracks, but I haven't had nearly as much listening time with them, so it's no hill to die on, for sure.

 
 Posted:   Jun 9, 2021 - 9:34 AM   
 By:   LeHah   (Member)

Each has its different use of elements. Not just the melodies but how everything is constructed."Chrome Dome" in The Last Jedi doesn't sound anything like the original or prequel scores - but it still sounds like Star Wars.

Of them, the OT is still the best and in a large part because its much closer to a symphonic / "pure" music. There is a lot more quieter and dramatic writing in it, where as the prequels / sequels is often about hard-hitting action.

Overall, I don't much care for the sequel scores (though Williams did what he could). A couple stand out cues between that trilogy makes a very fine album and Rey's Theme is easily one of the best cues he wrote in the entire saga. (Helps that John was sweet on Daisy, of course.)

 
 Posted:   Jun 9, 2021 - 9:38 AM   
 By:   Nicolai P. Zwar   (Member)

The original trilogy scores are my favorite, clearly.

But I also greatly enjoy the scores of the prequel and sequel trilogies.

I like the prequels considerably more than the sequels (as far as movies are concerned), but overall, the scores for all these films are quite strong.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 9, 2021 - 10:23 AM   
 By:   Jurassic T. Park   (Member)

Yavar had it right.

#1 - ORIGINAL
Perfection! Excellent themes, excellent musical storytelling, lots of breathing room for each score to organically evolve over the course of the film.

#2 - PREQUEL
High quality! Great maturation of style, nice new themes, lost a bit of the touch of the classic symphonic sound in slightly anonymous action music, and good musical development hindered slightly by music editing and re-tracking.

## - SEQUEL
Eh... good compositions on a technical level, themes are so-so, Force Awakens was the only one with a coherent story and semi-coherent musical progression, the rest of it is confused and anonymous action writing with a last ditch attempt to tie themes together. New Order theme was a cheesy rehash of old territory. Blame it on the terrible movies.

 
 Posted:   Jun 9, 2021 - 10:24 AM   
 By:   Yavar Moradi   (Member)

Yavar had it right.

But, um...you clearly don't agree with me on sequel vs. prequel trilogies. smile

Yavar

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 9, 2021 - 10:35 AM   
 By:   Porkins   (Member)

Scores: Original Trilogy: A+
Prequel Trilogy: A+
Disney Trilogy: A

Films: Original Trilogy: A+
Prequel Trilogy: A
Sequel Trilogy: D+

Favorite Score: Empire Strikes Back
Favorite Film: Revenge of the Sith

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 9, 2021 - 11:40 AM   
 By:   Spymaster   (Member)

1. Original trilogy
2. Prequel trilogy (though some of the classic themes feel forcably inserted)
3. Sequel trilogy (though The Force Awakens is my fourth favourite score after the original trilogy)

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 9, 2021 - 11:58 AM   
 By:   tranders65   (Member)

Yavar had it right.

But, um...you clearly don't agree with me on sequel vs. prequel trilogies. smile

Yavar


I was thinking the exact thing, Yavar, lol. For what it's worth, I DO match with you - OT by a wide mile, then easily the Sequel Trilogy followed far down by the Prequels.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 9, 2021 - 12:15 PM   
 By:   Jurassic T. Park   (Member)

Yavar had it right.

But, um...you clearly don't agree with me on sequel vs. prequel trilogies. smile

Yavar


Haha you're right, I got my QUELS mixed up.

In that case we differ - I'm wondering why you don't like the PREquel music as much. Is it the editing and re-using of cues?

 
 Posted:   Jun 9, 2021 - 12:46 PM   
 By:   David Mueller   (Member)

Scores:
#1 Original Trilogy (amazing. especially those sony 2CD releases in 2004)
#2 Sequel Trilogy (not as good but still a good listen (except 8 which is kinda boring in places))
#3 Prequel Trilogy (Score albums are lacking and bad paced/presented in order of tracks. looking at you, ROTS)

Films:
#1 Original Trilogy (I'm not a SW fan but I understand why people like them)
#2 Prequel Trilogy (boring until order 66 and the worst CGI I've ever seen on a blockbuster (LotR had better effects with less budget and 5 years earlier...))
#3 What's the Sequel Trilogy you're talking about?

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 9, 2021 - 12:58 PM   
 By:   Jurassic T. Park   (Member)

Scores:
#1 Original Trilogy (amazing. especially those sony 2CD releases in 2004)
#2 Sequel Trilogy (not as good but still a good listen (except 8 which is kinda boring in places))
#3 Prequel Trilogy (Score albums are lacking and bad paced)


Ah, this is interesting.

"Last Jedi" to me is so bad and comprised of filler that I can't connect with it at all. Since that's an entire movie, it only leaves the other two sequel films of which "Force Awakens" was the only one that worked for me.

For the prequels I see what you're saying if we're talking about the existing album releases.

Contrary to most it seems, I LIKE the Ultimate Edition of Phantom Menace because it's the complete score, and for the battle music at the end I think it works well because there are so many different edits that actually blend well sonically when edited together as they are.

But for AOTC and ROTS I can see how the album releases are really lacking. The complete scores are better, but to your point about pacing, AOTC really suffers from having so much music tracked in from The Phantom Menace. I think Revenge of the Sith fares better and that film, musically, really begins to come together more once Order 66 happens, as you point out. That finally gives the film a familiar, urgent drive, and that not only makes the movie more engaging from that point onward but the same for the music.

 
 Posted:   Jun 9, 2021 - 1:05 PM   
 By:   Yavar Moradi   (Member)

In that case we differ - I'm wondering why you don't like the PREquel music as much. Is it the editing and re-using of cues?

That's certainly something we should all keep in mind, when assessing Williams's work for both the prequel and sequel trilogies. Both of them absolutely butchered his compositions at times, and occasionally tracked in pre-existing music. A fair assessment of them as conceived by Williams would have to wait until all nine scores are available in complete form.

But that said, I don't think it was a major factor for me in comparing the two trilogies musically. IMO, even though the sequel films obviously lacked a plan and therefore cohesion between them, the scores are another matter, having great new thematic material and excellent development of said thematic material. In the extended versions I have which mix in otherwise unreleased tracks from the Academy promos, there still isn't a single score track in the sequel trilogy I ever feel compelled to skip. Now obviously The Force Awakens was the best of the sequel trilogy and the two follow-ups never quite delivered the same level of excitement, but that doesn't mean I understand the general apathy towards them.

The prequels are much less consistent, much more of a mixed bag. As with the sequel, the first one (The Phantom Menace) is probably the most fresh. But while it has incredible highlights like Duel of the Fates and the much less-celebrated but still great The Flag Parade, this material as well as other themes are not well developed in the score (or even its sequels). That's understandable when it comes to Qui-Gon's theme of course, but the (unused) End Credits of Attack of the Clones had this brilliant little hint of Anakin's theme becoming Darth Vader's Theme/The Imperial March at the end, and I really wanted more of that from these scores. The development of Anakin's theme was pretty much abandoned. The prequel scores are much more about set-pieces which never really go anywhere. So maybe if collecting together an hour of highlights from each trilogy, the prequel trilogy might compete with the sequel trilogy. But scores taken as a whole? No way, IMO.

Oh, and I didn't even mention how much BORING. underscore. permeates. every. prequel. score. (But especially The Phantom Menace, which is otherwise -- I reiterate -- the best and most fresh of the three.) Apparently this was because Lucas required Williams to score almost every single scene. So every shitty dialogue scene (Trade Federation nonsense, Imperial Senate nonsense, Gungan nonsense) has music noodling around under it doing hardly anything. Not Williams's fault, but BOY does it negatively impact my enjoyment of the scores on album. I mean, the original album for The Phantom Menace (while still less of a debacle than The Ultimate Edition) even needlessly connects boring cues with exciting cues, so I am forced to listen to 2+ minutes of boring underscore noodling before getting to The Flag Parade. None of the sequel score albums ever does anything like this.

Yavar

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 9, 2021 - 1:49 PM   
 By:   Jurassic T. Park   (Member)

In that case we differ - I'm wondering why you don't like the PREquel music as much. Is it the editing and re-using of cues?

That's certainly something we should all keep in mind, when assessing Williams's work for both the prequel and sequel trilogies... None of the sequel score albums ever does anything like this.

Yavar


Shortened the quote, but those are all good points you make - thanks for sharing!

I agree that the thematic development in the prequels was definitely not consistent. I wonder why so much changed, especially the musical identity for Anakin - I think his music (by choice or force) relied too much on Vader's theme for Anakin as opposed to the tension between that and his TPM theme. I also think the Jedi were a missed opportunity in terms of having their own thematic arc. The Force Theme is obviously a good proxy for the Jedi, but I think they could have used a more clear identity to depict their heroic height and then subsequent downfall (Williams' treatment is more just stately horn thirds). I also found some of the music too be too little-kiddish, like the twinkly synth flutes/celeste combo, and especially that goofy Naboo love motif (not the AOTC love theme). And a missed opportunity playing the Droid March when Anakin storms the Jedi Temple - something more emotional could have been used.

But there are so many magical moments through the prequels though that it's hard for me to be too against them (TPM: droid invasion, escape from naboo, watto's deal, podracer roars to life, flag parade - AOTC: speeder chase, yoda and younglings, kamino conspiracy stuff, anakin arrival at tatooine, yoda sensing anakin killing sand people - ROTS: Opening Battle, traveling to utapau, palpatine's big pitch, order 66/attack on Obi-Wan, Lament, Obi escapes swimming/AT-STs march, assembling the remains of the republic on the blockade runner, etc.)

The talking scenes don't bother me too much in the music, especially when they have thematic material - but as scenes in the film they are an endemic problem throughout the prequels, especially with the political scenes. I think that it where a stronger identity for the Jedi and palpatine (not the obvious Emperor theme) could have really created a great tension because those scenes, as boring as they are, underscore the bureaucratic/diplomatic mess that really got the Jedi mixed up and off-course from their spiritual mission. That really could have used its own theme.

I do find the Prequels to be quite anonymous, especially Last Jedi, but to your point they do sort of seem to maintain a cohesion, at least with Rey's theme and Kylo's / New Order First Order Galactic Order (though I'm not a fan of the latter theme).

I think I find the new ones to be a bit too derivative and on-the-nose - like Leia's theme when she floated in space back to the ship - as a musical choice I thought that didn't work well at all and could have used something less literal - like when Leia's theme was used for Obi Wan's death or when Yoda's theme is used for the Leia/Lando/Chewie/Droid escape from Cloud City. Musically I felt Leia's theme construction is too clunky for that. Stuff like that.

Anyways, thanks again for sharing your perspective!

 
 Posted:   Jun 9, 2021 - 1:50 PM   
 By:   David Mueller   (Member)

For the prequels I see what you're saying if we're talking about the existing album releases.

Contrary to most it seems, I LIKE the Ultimate Edition of Phantom Menace because it's the complete score, and for the battle music at the end I think it works well because there are so many different edits that actually work quite well.

But for AOTC and ROTS I can see how the album releases are really lacking. The complete scores are better, but to your point about pacing, AOTC really suffers from having so much music tracked in from The Phantom Menace. I think Revenge of the Sith fares better and that film, musically, really begins to come together more once Order 66 happens, as you point out. That finally gives the film a familiar, urgent drive, and that not only makes the movie more engaging from that point onward but the same for the music.


I only have the normal releases of 1-3. In generell, I like when the cues are moved around a bit to create a good listening expirience. But ROTS doesn't work for me: boring cue from first half of the film than TIME FOR END-BATTLE MUSIC (12 mins into the album). directly after that comes ultimate order 66 sadness followed by GRIEVOUS BATTLE MUSIC and three boring cues from the first half of the film (I think), and then there is only one thing, that can be put after this: it's time for EPIC END-BATTLE MUSIC 2 followed by 2 boring cues and the final 2 tracks which I like. Imagine wathing the film in the order, that the cues are presented. Maybe pacing wasn't the right word for this... and my complaint only applies to EP3. I edited my post above.

I excuse my english skills in this post. It just pisses me of how bad this album is put together...


Oh, and I didn't even mention how much BORING. underscore. permeates. every. prequel. score. (But especially The Phantom Menace, which is otherwise -- I reiterate -- the best and most fresh of the three.) Apparently this was because Lucas required Williams to score almost every single scene. So every shitty dialogue scene (Trade Federation nonsense, Imperial Senate nonsense, Gungan nonsense) has music noodling around under it doing hardly anything. Not Williams's fault, but BOY does it negatively impact my enjoyment of the scores on album. I mean, the original album for The Phantom Menace (while still less of a debacle than The Ultimate Edition) even connects boring cues with exciting cues, so I am forced to listen to 2+ minutes of boring underscore noodling before getting to The Flag Parade. None of the sequel score albums ever does anything like this.

Agreed. But I did some research by putting the CD in my player and The Flag Parade starts at 1:52. 8 Seconds less of noodling. smile

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 9, 2021 - 2:08 PM   
 By:   TheAvenger   (Member)

Williams’ scores for the original trilogy are burned into my brain nite for note.

I literally cannot remember any music except the main theme from the last trilogy. And worse, I didn’t even particularly notice them when I saw the movies theatrically.

In fairness the acting, writing, directing and editing of those movies were all shit too.

 
 Posted:   Jun 9, 2021 - 2:18 PM   
 By:   darthbrett   (Member)

FILMS (scores are on a 1-10 rating scale)
Original Trilogy
A New Hope - 9
The Empire Strikes Back - 10
Return of the Jedi - 8


Prequel Trilogy
The Phantom Menace - 5
Attack of the Clones - 4
Revenge of the Sith - 7


Sequel Trilogy
The Force Awakens - 7
The Last Jedi - 2
The Rise of Skywalker - 3




SCORES (scores are on a 1-10 rating scale)
Original Trilogy
A New Hope - 10
The Empire Strikes Back - 10
Return of the Jedi - 9


Prequel Trilogy
The Phantom Menace - 9
Attack of the Clones - 7
Revenge of the Sith - 8


Sequel Trilogy
The Force Awakens - 7
The Last Jedi - 5
The Rise of Skywalker - 5



Nothing needs to be said about the originals, we all know they are the best films and scores out of the entire Skywalker saga. For me personally, the prequels were mostly awful as films, even more so when comparing them against only other SW films, but the scores were pretty phenomenal and some of the only truly good things that came from them. The sequels were just boring to me overall, nothing stuck out in terms of the music save for some highlights in TFA score. Ditto for the films themselves. Boring new characters that didn't really strike a chord and equally meh stories and plots. I feel like Williams was in auto-pilot for all three of the sequels, but I also think it may just be because he is getting very old and I would imagine it's just harder to come up with more original and creatively unique score material at his age. I guess "pedestrian", "mundane" or "vanilla" is how I would describe the sequels overall as well as their scores.

 
 Posted:   Jun 9, 2021 - 2:20 PM   
 By:   darthbrett   (Member)

Williams’ scores for the original trilogy are burned into my brain nite for note.

I literally cannot remember any music except the main theme from the last trilogy. And worse, I didn’t even particularly notice them when I saw the movies theatrically.

In fairness the acting, writing, directing and editing of those movies were all shit too.


My exact thoughts. For everything you said.

 
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