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Analysis - The Emperor's Theme


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Here is part 3 of my Star Wars theme analyses, this one on the Emperor's theme: http://www.filmmusicnotes.com/celebrating-star-wars-themes-part-3-of-6-the-emperors-theme/ Enjoy!

But isn't the Emperor's theme the one theme from which everything else in JWs canon is derived from?

People love to make lists of themes that may return in TFA, when really, what they should do is a list of themes Williams may have remembered.

The Emperor's theme seems to symbolize the Dark Side (and the Sith as you say) as much as The Force Theme is the musical flipside of the coin. While there seems to be a bit of an overemphasis on it in TPM, broadcasting the villain to the knowledgeable fans from the start, Williams gets a lot of subtle references in during AotC and RotS which are nice foreshadowing before its full revelation.

Interestingly the rendition in Anakin's confession scene in AotC is tracked from the finale where Dooku meets Sidious on Corucscant. I think the original used only Anakin's own motif for his fall to the dark side (the 3rd section of Across the Stars) and the Imperial March. I think the Emperor's theme would be have been a rather good insertion for a larger subtext but I guess JW didn't have time to rewrite the cue.

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Interestingly and a bit frustratingly Williams later seems to forget that Emperor's theme has a B-section as well and throughout the Prequels only the A-part of the theme is used, often just repeated back to back if the scene length required it.

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Well the Emperor didn't really exist until the third film, so keeping only a fragment of the theme throughout the prequels makes sense to me.

Using it from the onset to broadcast who Sidious was, is a bit obvious in TPM as well though. Some renditions of the repeated A-section just feel a bit lazy to me, when there is a perfectly good end to the melody. This also happens in RotS when the Emperor has been revealed, e.g. in the scene where he transports wounded Anakin to Coruscant.

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Interestingly and a bit frustratingly Williams later seems to forget that Emperor's theme has a B-section as well and throughout the Prequels only the A-part of the theme is used, often just repeated back to back if the scene length required it.

I never heard a B section to this theme. Do you mean the section between 1:39-2:22 below?

Besides, ROTJ uses repetitions of the A section in a number of places as well. I don't know if this is your beef with it, but when I hear it in TPM, it seems a tad overused. I can't really say why I should feel that way when Vader's theme is ten times more pervasive in TESB and I don't feel it's overused there. Strange.

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What I actually meant is the second phrase of the theme itself which JW uses very rarely if at all in the Prequels, resorting to repeat the first one. The second phrase comes to a natural end which it never achieves in the Prequels. The passage I am talking about is the answering phrase to the initial one and can be heard clearly in 2:41-2:59 of the video you posted. Of course there are times when the scene length stops Williams from using the whole melody and it frustrating cuts away just before reaching the end of the second phrase. I don't whether it is intentional or was it always the scenes themselves but it is prevalent throughout the new trilogy.

This is not a major gripe but an observation on how the theme is used in the Prequels. As crumbs says above the way it feels open ended or unfinished actually ties to the musical dramaturgy of the whole story quite nicely.

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