“When we recorded the opening and closing of the very first Star Wars film I didn’t have any idea there would be a second one.”
Not only did John Williams end up creating another Star Wars score, he is responsible for the six that have followed it, with the most recent, Episode VII: The Force Awakens, gaining him yet another nomination from the Academy Awards for Best Original Score, which he might just again walk away with Sunday night.
In this new behind-the-scenes featurette from Disney, “The Sound of a Galaxy: Inside the Star Wars: The Force Awakens Soundtrack,” Williams talked about the thought process behind the music for the movie, as well as how his views on specific characters influenced the music. He may have even given us some hints about things yet to come.
One of the most common reactions fans had to the the film was that it “felt” like a Star Wars movie, and that was something Williams and director J.J. Abrams specifically tried to capture. “J.J. did speak to me about the feeling we would all want to have that this is Star Wars,” he said, “And particularly connect it if we could to the earlier films.”
With returning characters like Han and Leia, it was inevitable there would be some similarity in the music, but one comment he made is very interesting in light of a theory we’ve talked about in regards to Supreme Leader Snoke and his music sounding like it might be connected to a character from a previous film. (If you consider a theory a spoiler, skip the next paragraph.)
“There are references to earlier thematic connections between characters and music,” said Williams. If you believe in the “Snoke is Plagueis” theory, this certainly lends some legitimacy to the idea. Williams and Abrams weren’t making those kinds of decisions lightly, meaning an audio clue is just the type of hint they would leave.
The iconic composer also explained his process on scoring the film’s protagonist, Rey, and why her music might seem different from other leading Star Wars‘ characters. “Her theme has a musical grammar that is not heroic in the sense of a hero’s theme; it’s kind of an adventure theme that maybe promises more than resolving itself in the most major, triumphant resolutions.” It’s hard to think of a more perfect description of her story in the movie and going forward.
Williams was like a lot of us in how he felt about the young girl all alone on Jakku, and it influenced how he thought about her music. “I felt a lot of empathy for that girl, and I think Rey’s theme needs to illustrate that.” Mission accomplished, I was heartbroken for her before she ever even spoke.
As for the other side of the Force, Williams wanted Kylo Ren‘s music to remind viewers of his grandfather, Darth Vader, and the Sith Lord’s infamous music. “I didn’t want to get too close to it, but if it could convey, in a few short notes, as the “Imperial March” does, this evil power–strength, threat–it needs to be something that will hit you.”
There’s still almost two years to go before we get to Episode VIII, which gives us plenty of time to pour over the score for The Force Awakens, looking for any further clues that might help us figure out any more connections, either between family members or thematically, about where the rest of the story is heading.
Plus, it’s just awesome to have more Star Wars music from John Williams.
What is your favorite music from The Force Awakens? What do you think we can learn about some unsolved mysteries based on what Williams had to say? Let’s talk about it below.