I have a little bone to pick with John Williams. I love him, you know I do and I’ve written posts about the PT music vs. OT music. I think he is THE greatest composer of this day and age. While I love Lord of the Rings and its soundtrack, I really don’t think it should have been voted by the BBC as the best soundtrack. Though it has great themes and music, it’s a little repetitive, whereas Williams’ tracks are always original.
My bone to pick with Mr. Williams started small, but it has lately been gnawing at me a little more: the female themes in Star Wars are lacking, or worse, get forgotten.
There are so few female leads in the saga, but because of that I feel like the main three should get some stellar treatment from Williams.
- Prequel Trilogy – Padmé Amidala Naberrie
- Original Trilogy – Princess Leia Organa
- Sequel Trilogy – Rey (as it stands now)
When looking at the themes for the PT, I have to ask – what about Padmé? Why does she not have her own theme? Padmé is just as an important character as Anakin. In fact, without Padmé, we would not have Darth Vader – the reason for the saga and why we’ve been following the Skywalker family. I think John Williams could have done an amazing theme for her and I believe some of her theme, if she had one, shows up in Across the Stars. The theme is tragic, beautiful, and dark all at the same time.
But unfortunately, and this is where my annoyance also gets stronger in the OT, Across the Stars is a blend of Anakin and Padmé, not Padmé by herself. It pulls in hints of Anakin’s downfall, a doomed love, and Padmé’s beauty with indications of foreshadowing.
Princess Leia does have her own theme in ANH, which is a step up from Padmé and her lack thereof. It’s a beautiful theme and really pretty – but we rarely hear it. There is a snippet of it before she is stunned right in the beginning, but other than that, most of ANH is dominated by brass and some of the Force theme.
I look at the Force theme as Luke’s theme because, obviously, it shows up whenever he is present. It is similar to the Imperial March being construed as Vader’s theme because it starts playing whenever he looms into the camera. You’d think that Princess Leia’s theme would also show up when she’s on screen and into the next two films as well.
Unfortunately, Leia’s theme dissolves while the Force theme still rears its head whenever Luke is around for ESB and ROTJ. What bothers me more is not the fact that her theme is no longer present – but the fact that Leia’s theme gets pulled into other themes.
Within ESB, there is “Han Solo and the Princess” and in ROTJ there is the beautiful “Luke and Leia”. Don’t get me wrong – I love “Luke and Leia”. It’s one of my favorite pieces of ROTJ, but that’s not the point of this post. It’s like Leia can no longer stand on her own and she becomes interlocked with the two men in her life. I find it a little jarring because that’s not how I view her character (thankfully) but in terms of the music, the fault lies with Williams.
I do believe that musical themes should evolve – but they should not lose their core identity. Just like we, as people, evolve through our lives, we still have a core of ourselves that is the same. Luke’s Force theme shows up interwoven in different pieces throughout the OT and I wish I could see the same with Leia’s.
Water under the bridge at this point.
…Or is it? Can this pattern be changed with Episode VIII and Rey?
I may like Rey’s theme even more than Leia’s. Of course I’m biased because my daughter’s middle name is Rey, but the spunky, light-hearted, slightly wistful theme has become part of the weekly repertoire of music I listen to. It touches my core and brings out something in me where I almost feel like her at times; an understanding for Rey even though I have no idea what her life is like. Williams’ music has the power to do that.
Williams said that one of his main reasons for coming back to compose music for Episode VIII was because he didn’t want any other composer writing music for Rey. I love hearing that and it gives me hope that he keeps the essence of her in the upcoming movie within the score.
My main question and fear is: as Rey evolves as a character, will Williams keep her theme at the core? Or will he forget it entirely? Worse, will he blend it with other men?
I never thought I’d have an issue with Williams and his music, but here it is. I’m also curious to see if Jyn Erso has a theme and if so, what it will sound like. Or perhaps Michael Giacchino will not have any themes since it’s a standalone film and he’ll break the cycle.
Has anyone else noticed what I wrote about?