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A New Hope vs Phantom Menace vs Force Awakens


A New Hope vs Phantom Menace vs Force Awakens  

47 members have voted

  1. 1. What’s the best score out of the first entries in each trilogy?

    • Star Wars ‘77 (A New Hope)
      34
    • Phantom Menace
      8
    • Force Awakens
      5

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Not sure if this has been done yet. This could get messy. I imagine it might be divided along generational lines (aka in what era of Star Wars you became a fan) But vote for your favorite score out of the first films in each trilogy:) what’s your favorite?

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ANH is basically untouchable. Its biggest flaw is that, somehow, its successor ESB manages to be even better.    TPM is brilliant, boundlessly energetic and inventive. If we were able to hea

What's incredible to me is that Williams wrote the score to ANH thinking this was going to be just a one-off adventure movie, and nevertheless was able to write not one but TWO themes that would becom

How could anyone not pick A New Hope?  The one that started it all with its utter brilliance and immediacy.

Before the Phantom Menace came out I really wished Williams would have written a new opening title for the prequel trilogy based on the force theme. Maybe like at the beginning of Throne Room. Why do they open the prequels with Luke's theme? Ok. They didn't dare to do so. But that really would have made sense musically from a story telling perspective I think.

And then for the sequels an opening title based on Rey's theme. That would have been something.

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A New Hope for me. It was one of my earliest and most influential exposures to Williams, and it remains a perennial favorite of mine, overplayedness notwithstanding. It simply never manages to get old.

 

TPM would probably be second for me. None of its new themes are on the level of Rey's theme, but they're still excellent. The score as a whole is replete with highlights, and it's a really fantastic recording. It's the only Star Wars score that has much of a 90s Williams feel and I dig it.

 

TFA's standing is hurt by the quality of the recording and by some stretches that feel less than divinely inspired. But it's still easily my favorite of the sequel trilogy scores. Serious props for the new themes.

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1 hour ago, GerateWohl said:

Before the Phantom Menace came out I really wished Williams would have written a new opening title for the prequel trilogy based on the force theme. Maybe like at the beginning of Throne Room. Why do they open the prequels with Luke's theme? Ok. They didn't dare to do so. But that really would have made sense musically from a story telling perspective I think.

And then for the sequels an opening title based on Rey's theme. That would have been something.

That was his idea for the prequels and wrote one.  Lucas vetoed it in favor of the traditional.  I think most people assume the "new" title became DotF.  

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3 hours ago, Drew said:

I think the only easy choice is that Revenge of the Sith is the best trilogy closer.

 

In terms of sheer quality of writing, I don't think I'd place it above ROTJ. It certainly afforded Williams the opportunity to create a sort of drama and bittersweet closure that's arguably less present in ROTJ, though.

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I agree with the results of the poll so far except I would have even more distance between TPM and TFA. ANH is the best. I can listen to every second of it without getting bored. It has so much energy and the minor leitmotifs add a lot to the score.

 

TPM is such an incredibly rich score with dense and nimble action music. I especially love the middle passage of the score covering everything on that sandy planet.

 

TFA does a great job of introducing a whole new set of themes and has some good one-off set pieces, but I don't enjoy the complete score the way I do ANH and TPM. Based on the existing fan edits of the full score, TFA just doesn't have a good flow, probably thanks to JJ's editing.

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28 minutes ago, Falstaft said:

ANH is basically untouchable. It's biggest flaw is that, somehow, its successor ESB manages to be even better. 

 

Oh, I wouldn't quite know about that. I prefer The Empire Strikes Back to the original in almost every respect; the score, though...

 

And, again, I dunno what's this "ANH" buisness...;)

 

28 minutes ago, Falstaft said:

don't really follow through with what it sets up thematically (in particular Anakin's Theme [...]).

 

I do believe Williams intended from the outset for the Anakin theme to be, as you yourself aptly catalogued it, a strictly "Young Anakin" theme. Now, we all know that Williams tends to use his leitmotifs rather...intuitivelly, shall we say, as he moves from score to score...but even in interviews from the time of The Phantom Menace he refers to it as a "youthful" tune and things along these lines: its very much a theme for a young boy; and that future entries generally use it when the imagery calls back to young Anakin (that's also how its used in "A Musical Journey") does seem to reinforce this view somewhat.

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2 minutes ago, Chen G. said:

Oh, I wouldn't quite know about that. I prefer The Empire Strikes Back to the original in almost every respect; the score, though...

I don't think I prefer it in any aspect!

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ANH is so efficient, and bombastic without hurting your ears.  The action music weaves the thematic motifs with rhythmic material that just propels it perfectly.  So many moments that are not themes or motifs, but could be.  The stuff in between the thematic material is just so interesting.

 

And...

 

Williams doesn't blow his wad early.  He judiciously saves some of the most incredible (indelible) material for Act III.  The TIE Fighter Attack, and the Last Battle.

 

And mindblowingly, the noble heroic theme of the Medal Ceremony?  So melodic and long lined, and the composer saves it for the final frames of the film?  Unparalleled.

 

Plus...

 

ANH redefined Outer Space Source music.  Nothing from any other Star Wars or imitator has ever come close to the Cantina source cues.

 

Phantom Menace has some lovely stuff, but I recall the frenzied piccolo of the underwater monsters scenes hurting my ears, and disliking some of the synth accents throughout the score.

 

Rey's theme is the biggest gift to this century of film scoring, but it's not ANH good.

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11 minutes ago, Chen G. said:

Ben's Theme, back then, obviously.

I find it sad whenever contemporary interpretations of the great scene where the spirit of Ben Kenobi returns with a lyrical outburst of his theme ignore this identity in favour of the "saga interpretation" of the theme, which makes  the scene entirely Luke-centric. In Star Wars Ben Kenobi is like Merlin, and his return is his own moment of triumph "If you strike me down, I will become more powerful..."

 

Then, when Vader says "The Force is strong in this one", it was originally implied that he was being tricked "...than you could possibly imagine" and the ghost of the wizard was actively helping Luke.

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Star Wars '77 of course.  Sure, he leaned on the temp a lot, but he transcended the sources of his musical paraphrases and wrote some stunning original thematic and incidental material.  

 

Phantom Menace is good.  So is Force Awakens.  

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TFA

Star Wars 77 is an important historical artifact (by far the most iconic of the three) but I don't listen to it for enjoyment as much as the other two.

TPM, with its expansive orchestrations and wide stylistic range has the most "thrills per minute" but TFA ultimately wins due to the high quality of the thematic material.  

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8 hours ago, Falstaft said:

ANH is basically untouchable. It's biggest flaw is that, somehow, its successor ESB manages to be even better. 

 

TPM is brilliant, boundlessly energetic and inventive. If we were able to hear the real, originally intended score for the Battle of Naboo, I suspect it would be even more highly ranked. Its biggest flaw is that its Prequel Trilogy successors don't really follow through with what it sets up thematically (in particular Anakin's Theme & DoTF). 

 

TFA is a solid A score, but not transcendent in the same way ANH is, or extravagantly enjoyable like TPM. The dramatic underscore is generally good, but not great. It's biggest strength is its new themes, an absolute knockout finale, and the fact that the rest of the Sequel Trilogy does follow through with what it sets up. (Excepting the abandonment of the Finn/Pursuit motif.) 

 

So, musically speaking: the OT peaks in the middle with ESB, the PT at the beginning with TPM, and the ST at the end with TROS.

 

This is all purely my opinion, of course!

 

 

Excellent analysis! I love it

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SW > TFA >>> TPM

 

It's hard to compare SW and TFA, because the first score is so iconic and groundbreaking for (at least) the series. In a way, it's easier to compare SW and ESB, because while ESB expands the palette (not just thematically, but also instrumentally and harmonically), they still have the same narrative makeup, whereas Williams' approach a few decades later is decidedly different. TFA relies much less heavily on its leitmotifs, and even less on the old ones, but as someone who grew up with the original, I couldn't possibly imagine TFA without the context of the original score.

 

TPM for me suffers a bit from too-much-ness, like ROTJ does to a certain (probably smaller) extent. On the other hand, I'm very familiar with the OT's C&C releases, whereas for TPM I'm only used to the flawed UE and (long ago) the flawed album. I expect the score to improve in narrative balance once we get a proper release.

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7 hours ago, gkgyver said:

How on EARTH can you put Phantom Menace over Star Wars? Keep the xylophone and mickey mousing. 

All prequel scores have something incredibly annoying about them if you try to listen to them start to finish. 

I'm not the grease monkey; you are.  

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I just like how much love TFA is getting here when pitted against ANH and TPM. It seems a genuinely rare thing when someone can restart something and be praised for doing as good a job (or nearly so) as the first time around. It’s rarer still that someone can restart something twice and still get the same  reaction. It tells you all you need to know about how truly incredible JW is.

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