Ok, I do not profess to be an expert on STAR WARS, or even the STAR WARS soundtracks, but I do know what I like. As with every STAR WARS soundtrack, the score for THE LAST JEDI, opens with the now iconic theme that was penned by composer John Williams way back in the day, when we lived in, A FAR NICER AND SIMPLIER WORLD THAN WE DO NOWADAYS. The familiar brass flourishes and Erich Wolfgang Korngold inspired fanfares that in my opinion returned the world of film music back to where it should have been and reinstated the symphonic score to cinema, still send a chill of excitement and anticipation up one’s spine and make the hairs on the back of the neck bristle anticipation and expectation at the thought of what the composer might have in store for us. As with all scores for the STAR WARS saga, the opening theme soon segues seamlessly into the opening cue of the score, in this case the MAIN TITLES run for 1 min and 36 secs, then rumbling and booming percussion introduce the fast paced and driving track entitled ESCAPE, which oozes everything that is STAR WARS musically and is filled with the finesse, genius and perfection that we have come to expect from John Williams. In fact, this is a great opening that is filled with tense and edgy brass stabs and underlying dark strings that combine with the percussive elements of the piece to create a composition that verges on the Wagnerian and the operatic because of its powerfully enigmatic and commanding presence, the composer weaving the central theme into the cue and every so often lifting the darkness and foreboding atmosphere with mini fanfares and brass laden hope filled stabs. The brass and percussion work overtime for this opener and drive the piece forward with strings lacing and enveloping the already emotive and inspiring composition. For any soundtrack collector this will indeed be a feast of the artistry of John William’s at his dramatic and action packed best. This is a cue that is STAR WARS through and through, it contains, emotion, drama and a real romantic undercurrent that relays to the listener the ethos of the STAR WARS scores and evokes memories and thoughts of past triumphs of the previous movies and their soundtracks. There is a richness here, but also a degree of darkness and a romantic sense of adventure which to be honest only William’s can purvey via his heartfelt strings and flyaway woods, it is enchanting, beguiling and gets right to one’s core.
As with his music for THE FORCE AWAKENS we hear the familiar themes and nuances that we expect, but are also treated to new and fresh material, with the familiar being given a new lease of life as the composer arranges and orchestrates them in varying ways at times combining elements of the original with the new, as in the SUPREMACY, which is a variation on DARTH VADERS theme.
With the near mournful and solitary horn leit-motif for Luke Skywalker, which is instantly recognisable that raises its head every so often throughout the work beginning as a poignant and fragile sounding piece but becoming a full-blown arrangement with the poignancy heightened and transformed into a more substantial and lush piece by surging and proud sounding strings that are embellished by brass, giving it a mesmeric quality that tugs at the heartstrings and washes over the listener in waves of emotion. The composer utilises this and it has a more pronounced impact in the cue, OLD FRIENDS, which in the first instant is low and ominous, but swiftly develops into a combination of both Luke and Leia’s themes. I cannot really say a lot more about the score, it is after all a STAR WARS soundtrack, and its John Williams, so what more could you possibly want, I will say however, that in my very humble opinion, THE LAST JEDI, does stand out more than its predecessor, there seems to be more for us to get our teeth into here, the last track, FINALE, is a delight, it is after all an overture of sorts, and contains all of the major themes from the score, thus combining old with new for a glorious 8 minutes or so. For a series of movies that has endured for so many years, it is surprising that the musical side of things has not become a little cliched or stale, but on listening to THE LAST JEDI, there is no chance of that happening, William’s unearths old and familiar themes and introduces new and vibrantly fresh pieces that will delight, thrill and inspire. Love the score, all 1 hour and 17 minutes of it. Buy this NOW….