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Analysis - Uses of the Force Theme


Ludwig
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Nice article! I am curious though about this statement: "there are no full and foregrounded statements of the Force theme in either The Empire Strikes Back..." since it gets a prominent one minute treatment here:

EDIT: Oh, I see you and Frank Lehman are already discussing this on your blog.

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The question of being foregrounded for me has to do with the music occupying the most prominent part in the scene. In the scenes mentioned above, of course these are complete statements, but they are overlapped by dialogue, which takes precedence over the music since we have to understand a film's story in order to understand the music's meaning within it. So those I would not consider foregrounded the same way something like Binary Sunset is- they're more like "middleground" statements. I find it interesting that the complete and foregrounded statements are reserved for the big narrative turning points. Not that these other statements are unimportant, but, I would argue, a notch down in importance from the ones I cite.

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Not to steer this one completely off topic, but story time.

I like the one in Droid Fight when Qui-Gon is cutting through the door. Not a favorite, but awesome and I remember it very vividly from the first time I endured The Phantom Menace. Even the Main Title didn't feel right to me because I had no idea what the fuck I was reading about. I also remember the volume being stupidly low in the theater, a phenomenon which occurred with all the prequels. Then they're talking about the Federation, which made me think of a far superior space franchise. Anyway, Williams uses Luke's theme when they start fighting the robots, which I've never liked. However, when I heard the Force Theme not long after, it finally felt like Star Wars.

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Great point, ET&E!

I had a similar experience. I couldn't have been more psyched for TPM, being a SW fan since middle school. I had the TPM OST early so was familiar with that music before seeing the film, of course I had no idea at the time how it was completely out of order, had multiple cues from totally different parts combined together into single tracks, or that the film wouldn't place all the music where it was written to go anyway.

Anyway, my excitement for so almost instantly squelched by the reasons you stated - the odd story scroll, the fact that afterwards we just see... ships approaching some new planet... talk of trade disputes etc..... but then Qui-Gonn stuck his lightsaber in a blast door, and a Force Theme statement that wasn't on the OST played, and I was hopeful again!

... for a while.

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My favorite statement of the Force Theme in ESB is when Luke calls for Leia while hanging below Cloud City. I adore that scene

YES! Such a great version of the Force Theme! Really shows how versatile of a theme it is!

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Speaking of full statements of the theme, I noticed you did not cover how ANH is the only film to have really truncated statements of the first phrase for example at 2:19 of Imperial Attack:

I thought ANH was the only film to do this as well, until I sat down and recorded all statements of the theme from all the films. It's true that no other statements are quite like this truncation in ANH, but there are a host of others in the other films that do shorten the first phrase, usually just because it veers off into something else. One example is in TESB, when Luke is doing a headstand and levitating Yoda, then suddenly worries about Han and Leia, loses concentration, and allows Yoda to tumble to the ground. That Force theme is shortened in its second idea, much like the initial statement in ANH, and here, it's narrative significance is Luke's inability to keep his focus and gracefully finish what he is doing before moving on to something else.

Another interesting one is in ROTJ, when Luke refuses to join the Emperor, saying it is because he is a Jedi. There is an odd overlap of the first and second ideas of the theme. That is, the second enters before the first has had a chance to end. It seems to have a sense of foreboding to it, like a warning of "uh-oh" or "watch out", especially because that second idea is distorted and rises up by step at its end instead of falling down.

There are lots more interesting things I found about this theme's statements, I just tried to choose the most striking developments for analysis.

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What fascinates me most about film soundtracks is not what the motifs are or what they're called, but how they change, twist and (sometimes) evolve throughout the film. Thank you for the very interesting analysis Ludwig!

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