Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Ludwig

Analysis - Across the Stars

Recommended Posts

Great stuff! I especially like the way you show the possible interrelations between Across the Stars and other themes from SW. :)

As a small note on the ending phrase of the entire theme (2:26 onward in the concert suite), I see the little figure as a new theme for Anakin and perhaps relates to the idea of how his love for Padmé and even his mother leads slowly to his downfall. It is used to emphasize his impetuousness, his desire to achieve power and prestige and his obsessive love that in the end lead to the fall of the entire Jedi order. Besides the examples you mention in your article Williams seems to my ears derive the Anakin motif from the concert suite for the love theme where a string motif followed by the portentous brass (2:26-3:00). This string motif is expanded upon and receives more Dies Irae-like progressions throughout Episode II where he slows down the almost motoric figure from the suite. Some examples of its appearances: the moment on Naboo when Padmé in her conversation with the queen inadvertendly belittle's his padawan status and Anakin flares out, the moment Anakin is carrying his mother home where a slow grim reading of this idea appears (Tusken Camp and Homestead) and finally the most prominent version is heard when he confesses killing the Sand People to Padmé where the entire piece is build on this motif before climaxing in Imperial March (another unreleased highlight).

In the Episode III it is e.g. woven into the Lament (aka Anakin's Betrayal), the scene of the Jedi Purge, which is in effect the result of Anakin's desperate desire to save Padmé.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Probably one of the most annoying themes Williams has ever composed. The two leads were so horrific, Johnny felt like he was under pressure to compensate for their lack of believability. But it only made things worse!

Not on the album.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What about that final rendition of the theme in ROTS, as Padme goes to confront Anakin knowing she will likely die?

Good stuff!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What about that final rendition of the theme in ROTS, as Padme goes to confront Anakin knowing she will likely die?

That bit was alright. And how it ends in the album version of the end credits of AOTC. It's just when it goes loud and swells like a wombat's eyes that's allergic to grass, then it's annoying.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Meadow Picnic isn't a fair representation of the theme. I blame that solely on Lucas' complete inability as a writer.

And yes, the album ending of End Credits is exemplary; naturally Lucas made sure to delete it and replace it with the standard ending.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Meadow Picnic isn't a fair representation of the theme. I blame that solely on Lucas' complete inability as a writer.

Hey the original version didn't even use Across the Stars but the "courting theme" which most of the cue is based on. It was Lucas who wanted a rewrite.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Is the theme at the start here an example of the courting theme?

Yes. It appears in these few scenes where Creepy Stalker Skywalker is wooing Padmé.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's probably the fault of the godawful material it's attached to, but I can't stand that theme. It just pisses me off for some inexplicable reason (again, probably the material).

It's so sugary and saccharine it hurts my ears. There's just so many more layers of complexity going on in Across the Stars (love, tragedy, sadness, remorse, inevitability); this theme is just one-dimensional Williams desperately telling the audience "look how sweet this couple is!" because Lucas was incapable of conveying any emotion whatsoever with his fucking horrible direction.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great analysis! I always thought it was interesting that this theme and Luke's theme go almost in parallel, in terms of melodic contour and rhythm. I never noticed the pattern with the 2nd and 3rd intervals though. Guess that's what gives the theme a sort of "inevitable" quality (as do many of JW's themes).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was really surprised to see the connections this theme has to the other themes in AOTC (and Luke's for that matter). Very interesting stuff!

I can't wait to see what the BOTH analysis reveals; I always considered that the most isolated theme in the saga, despite the obvious potential it had. I wish JW had planted seeds of that theme throughout the film, as Obi-Wan and Anakin's relationship gradually deteriorated.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmmm. Movie scores tell the audience how to feel. It's what they do. Across the Stars does its job.

But it just sounds stupid while it does it.

Then it perfectly encapsulates the romance in the film.

John Williams the greatest musical storyteller the world of cinema has ever known! If need be putting even "stupid" in musical form.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The long overdue first love theme of the Star Wars saga is easily one of my favourites. Always loved the richness of the orchestration.

First love theme...? 'Han Solo and the Princess.' Hell even 'Luke and Leia' is a love theme.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nope.

Across The Stars is the first love thmee in the saga.

Right, so the theme that specifically scores the growing love between Han and Leia is a theme for what then? Han's wit?

It's just a running joke Lee. Williams mentioned in Episode II documentaries how Across the Stars is the first love theme for Star Wars, which it of course isn't, so he himself obviously had forgotten Han Solo and the Princess entirely. So who are we to contradict the Maestro? :P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's just a running joke Lee. Williams mentioned in Episode II documentaries how Across the Stars is the first love theme for Star Wars, which it of course isn't

It is, if you consider the saga in chronological order.

And as a wise man John was obviously speaking from that perspective. Sharp as a tag, that wise old fellow.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nope.

Across The Stars is the first love thmee in the saga.

Right, so the theme that specifically scores the growing love between Han and Leia is a theme for what then? Han's wit?

It's just a running joke Lee. Williams mentioned in Episode II documentaries how Across the Stars is the first love theme for Star Wars, which it of course isn't, so he himself obviously had forgotten Han Solo and the Princess entirely. So who are we to contradict the Maestro? :P

I see. Thought I was having a nervous breakdown for a minute.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As a small note on the ending phrase of the entire theme (2:26 onward in the concert suite), I see the little figure as a new theme for Anakin and perhaps relates to the idea of how his love for Padmé and even his mother leads slowly to his downfall. It is used to emphasize his impetuousness, his desire to achieve power and prestige and his obsessive love that in the end lead to the fall of the entire Jedi order. Besides the examples you mention in your article Williams seems to my ears derive the Anakin motif from the concert suite for the love theme where a string motif followed by the portentous brass (2:26-3:00). This string motif is expanded upon and receives more Dies Irae-like progressions throughout Episode II where he slows down the almost motoric figure from the suite. Some examples of its appearances: the moment on Naboo when Padmé in her conversation with the queen inadvertendly belittle's his padawan status and Anakin flares out, the moment Anakin is carrying his mother home where a slow grim reading of this idea appears (Tusken Camp and Homestead) and finally the most prominent version is heard when he confesses killing the Sand People to Padmé where the entire piece is build on this motif before climaxing in Imperial March (another unreleased highlight).

In the Episode III it is e.g. woven into the Lament (aka Anakin's Betrayal), the scene of the Jedi Purge, which is in effect the result of Anakin's desperate desire to save Padmé.

I agree - I had always thought of that little coda on the concert version as "Anakin's evil" or something similar (maybe evil is too strong a word). The unusual thing about these relationships is that they are much transformed than in a typical film score, where if a theme recurs or is varied, it's generally abundantly clear that's what's happening. For that reason, it becomes harder to draw the line between significant and insignificant relationships. Your reading works well if seen as drawn from that coda idea, which is ominous to begin with. But then that idea is itself a variant of the love theme, and as I sort of implied in the post, it's probably not as "slam dunk" an observation to link everything back to the love theme (i.e., not everyone will agree). I try to make a case for it, but I think there are other ways to interpret it, as I suggest. In any case, I think yours is a sophisticated and particularly convincing reading of the many thematic relationships in these last two prequel scores. Thanks, Inky!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×