The Rise of Skywalker Soundtrack
A 'Best of John Williams' compilation
December 27, 2019
I haven’t seen Rise of the Skywalker and frankly have very little interest in doing so. The important thing for me is that this is another movie soundtrack done by John Williams - possibly the last one.
The Force Awakens was a clear “soft reboot” meant to retread the 1977 Star Wars movie and reintroduce Star Wars to a new audience. The soundtrack reflected that. The music retread the original 3 movies and brought little to nothing new. The closest would be Rey’s theme, a slow theme that lacks the energy of classic Star Wars music.
The Last Jedi’s soundtrack was by far the most mediocre of the Disney era soundtracks. No stand out piece. Nothing built up in the movie or to build upon from The Force Awakens. It raises a point that the Disney movies are almost constantly on the go, rarely allowing any time for a scene to breathe. In 1977 a Death Star blew up a planet and the movie pauses and allows the significance of the event to sink in. Characters are able to react. In a recent movie a planet sized weapon blows up a bunch of planets, but there’s no time to react. The movie insists on moving forward, no time to pause. No time for a character reaction. If characters in the movie aren’t going to care then why should the audience? It isn’t just bad movie making but bad for movie music. With a relentless pace there’s no time to create or develop musical themes. There’s simply less for a musician to work with.
As for The Rise of the Skywalker soundtrack, it comes across as a “Greatest Hits” album. Of course when it is John Williams the hits are pretty damn great. Just reuse and rework the classic 70’s & 80’s Star Wars music, but this time make sure to go extra heavy on reusing The Return of the Jedi. Palpatine is back for the latest movie for some reason so reuse the “Palpatine / throne room” music throughout the movie. No need to create a new theme for Palpatine when the old one already exists. And don’t ever think about how inserting Palpatine in the movie after Return of the Jedi showed him dying cheapens Darth Vader’s sacrifice at the end of that movie.
As bad as the Star Wars prequels were at story & dialogue they still allowed John Williams to create. The George Lucas movies spent time world building. The Disney movies don’t have time for that, everything has to be kept moving forward almost all the time. That world building allowed for creating and reinforcing musical themes. In fact it allowed John Williams to actively contribute to the world building. Three movies into the Disney era and there still isn’t a new equivalent to Duel of the Fates.