This past December, fans of the Star Wars franchise walked into theaters with some apprehension. Here was a Star Wars film with a new director, new writers, and a new film composer. Would it live up to their expectations? Rogue One turned out to have an extremely polarizing effect – viewers either love it dearly or detest it with all of their being.
The Rogue One film score is no different. John Williams offered us the original Star Wars soundtrack, which is perhaps one of the most beloved examples of movie music ever created. Enthusiasts were disappointed to learn that Williams would not be composing the score for this latest Star Wars film, and noted that this score just didn’t produce the feeling they had come to expect from visiting the Star Wars universe. Others, however, have a vastly different opinion. The music isn’t quite the same, but it is certainly worthy of note. I happen to fall into this second category. While a little disappointed at first, I’ve eventually come to love the Rogue One film score. Here’s why:
An Underdog Story
John Williams is one of the biggest names in the history of film composing, and the Star Wars soundtrack is one of the most memorable scores ever produced. Can you imagine trying to follow in this shadow? It’s an overwhelming thought, and yet this is exactly what Michael Giacchino did. Not only this, but he was called in to work on the project at the last minute, giving him only four and a half weeks to write the music for an entire feature-length film! I admire Giacchino’s courage, and am truly impressed by the quality of music he was able to produce in such a brief period of time.
A Familiar Sound
Though it is obvious from the first downbeat that this is not the sound we’re used to hearing in a Star Wars film, Giacchino does offer diehard fans many familiar sounds in the orchestration. The Imperial armies still march to the chilling sound of low strings, and the heroes still race into the scene announced by warm brass and light-footed trumpets.
Listen to The Imperial Suite, and you will hear a sound that is comforting in its familiarity:
A New Statement
At the same time, Michael Giacchino has left his own mark on the Star Wars universe, and it’s one worth remembering. Everything that made his 2009 Star Trek film score so incredibly breathtaking is also present here.
Take the track entitled Your Father Would Be Proud, for example. Just as he did for the infamous opening scene of Star Trek, which depicts the heartwrenching birth of James T. Kirk, Giacchino paints a musical picture which is filled with dramatic tension and an overwhelming sense of love.
The piece opens with the swelling emotional tides of French Horns and Strings, sending a feeling of warmth washing over listeners immediately. A light touch of voices adds to the dramatic effect, creating the type of “epic musical moment” that Giacchino has become known for.
Halfway through the piece Giacchino gives us a more classic Star Wars sound, including trumpets and a flourish on the harp that creates a sense of magic – even in the far reaches of outer space.
As the choir comes back in full force, however, the true magic begins. Giacchino flexes his real musical prowess by combining his signature style with that of John Williams in a finale which is epic and sweeping while familiar and nostalgic at the same time.
Listen to Your Father Would Be Proud, and experience the magic for yourself:
This isn’t your vintage Star Wars music, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Giacchino manages to tell a new story for a new generation. The Rogue One soundtrack may not be perfect, but it is one that is absolutely worth remembering.
Today’s post is part of the A-to-Z Challenge, where participants commit to posting one article for each day during the month of April – one for every letter of the alphabet.
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