The Force Awakens with John Williams

The latest instalment in the multi-million dollar space epic Star Wars saga hit cinemas in the UK on December 17th to widespread critical acclaim and the best opening weekend Box Office success in history. While most of the Internet was busy obsessing over how cute BB-8 is (OK, he is ridiculously adorable), many musical fans of George Lucas’ iconic franchise were busy obsessing over John Williams’ brilliant score.

The name John Williams has become almost as synonymous with Star Wars as his iconic scores have, and many musicologists agree that his score for A New Hope back in 1977 helped to reshape and redefine what it took to be a film composer. Since then, his work has made continuous use of leitmotifs for the stories and characters he’s representing – both in and out of the Star Wars galaxy – and of course his latest score for The Force Awakens is no different.

Indeed, several cues and leitmotifs stand out as iconic pieces of music in their own right. Rey’s Theme, the beautiful sweeping melody used to represent Daisy Ridley’s character, fits the scavenger from Jakku so perfectly that it feels as if it’s simply an extension to the character. Similarly, The March of the Resistance, while at a polar opposite from Rey’s Theme in terms of – well, almost everything – perfectly captures the intentions of the Resistance and the sense of urgency they always seem to be under. It’s easy to get a sense of what’s going on in the narrative just from the music – you don’t need to see the film to be able to know where the story is going.

A note on the Orchestra, however. All six of the films prior to The Force Awakens had their scores performed by the world renowned London Symphony Orchestra – indeed, some consider the performance of the LSO’s late principal trumpet Maurice Murphy to be one of the defining parts of the original soundtrack. Yet for The Force Awakens, the producers of the film opted instead for a studio orchestra of musicians. One can only assume that the reason behind this change in Orchestra is rooted in financial restrictions, which is a shame as it does feel as if some of the performances for the film lack a certain pizzazz that the scores for Episodes I-VI. There’s less of a richness of colour in many of the cues, most notably, unfortunately, in the iconic opening title march, which will become apparent if you compare the performance of any one of the Main Title marches from the previous six episodes to that of Episode VII.

But let this not detract our attention from the man himself, whose formidable talents as one of the best Film Composers of our time cannot – and should not – be tainted by the pettiness of critics. This score is up there among his best yet, and it is so beautifully and unashamedly John Williams, while simultaneously coming across magnificently as if it is music written by a composer from that galaxy far, far away. There are beautiful and subtle hints at motifs from the previous films which combine elegently and effortlessly with material that wouldn’t be out of place in a symphony.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

This is, truly, one of Williams’ greats. Despite a performance which at times lacks the richness and the colour of the LSO performances for Episodes I-VI, the quality of the music and the orchestrations is a masterclass in film scoring, a fantastic example of the use of leitmotifs and the role they can play in soundtracks, and quite simply great music to listen and relax to.

Star Wars Episode VII – The Force Awakens is in UK Cinemas now, and the soundtrack is available to purchase on iTunes and Amazon.