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The music of the Original Trilogy vs the music of the Prequel Trilogy

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I imagine this has probably been discussed before (if not numerous times) and if so, my apologies, but I was wondering if anyone else shares my viewpoint on something. For me, the scores of the Original Trilogy are just awesome through and through. Every single track is memorable, provocative and timeless to my ears. Luke's theme, the Imperial March, etc.

However, I have always felt that John Williams kind of dropped the ball a bit with the music of the Prequels. Now I know for many, thems are fightin' words, but believe me I have the utmost respect for Williams and everything he's done (the guy's given us more instantly recognisable theme songs than any other composer in film after all!). I may be just biased because I admittedly hate the prequels, but none of the music within them has ever stirred any sort of lasting impression in me, not even Duel of the Fates or Padme's theme. I tend to think it may have been Lucas' direction, but I don't know. Does anyone else agree?

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I love the music of the prequels, one of their very few good points.

My problem is how the pace of the movies affects the music. Specialy Attack of the Clones, where great music themes are mixed in a messy way because the pace itself is a mess: good guys + bad guys + separatists + silly humor + romance + pathos + OT references, etc... When you know that in Star Wars pretty much every important characters have a music theme, I can imagine the nightmares mister Williams went through when he wrote his part.

So I would say great individual parts, but a lot of time not put together in a very good way. At least not as good as in the original trilogy where the music had the time to develop and to really become part of the characters and not just "the music that plays when the characters are on screen".

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Personally, I find the music to be just about the only enjoyable element of the PT. The movies suck, granted, but I still say Williams delivered solid scores for all three films (AOTC is admittedly the weakest of the lot).

As for your comment that "none of the music within them [the prequels] has ever stirred any sort of lasting impression in me," I can sympathize. But I tend to think that that's a result of the lack of decent storytelling and characterization in the prequels. The OT scores are more emotionally meaningful to you and me because they play upon a "connection" of sorts that we've formed with these characters whom we have come to know and love, and with the gripping storylines as well. When it come to the PT there's no such connection to play upon, because the source material was too shallow to begin with.

That being said, I think the PT scores qua scores are just fine.

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I agree with the OP.  I don't think it's specific to the prequels or anything though.  I actually don't care for much of Williams' latter-day work (nineties and beyond).  The PT scores were just as forgettable as the movies they accompanied IMO.  I do remember the elements of several OT themes being present in the PT scores, but it felt more like playing a game of musical Where's Waldo than listening to enjoyable music.

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The biggest problem with why the Prequel music may not be as good lies with--I feel--Lucas and the way he edited and re-edited (and re-edited and re-edited) those movies.  Even after Williams recorded the scores the movies were changed; subsequently the scores were changed.  The Phantom Menace music was butchered beyond belief-- the Ultimate Edition Soundtrack is proof of that.  Plus, wasn't TPM music re-used in AOTC instead of some of the original music written for it?

I thought there were good music moments in TPM; ROTS was the best Prequel soundtrack (probably because it used so much Original Trilogy music) and AOTC did pretty much suck.

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I love the PT scores.

There's something epic and melodramatic about them, that matches how the PT is more epic and melodramatic than the OT, while at the same time feeling like they belong with the OT (more so than the films IMHO).

I think the ROTS score is up there with SW as my personal favorite.

"Across the Stars" single handedly saves whatever emotional investment I have in AOTC. I beleive those kids are in love because of that song.

 

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ps.

STENDEC, I love both your avatar and your handle.

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I'd really like to see the original cut of AOTC, in which Williams' score for the ending wasn't butchered.

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timdiggerm said:

I'd really like to see the original cut of AOTC, in which Williams' score for the ending wasn't butchered.

I'd like to hear the original score for AOTC without seeing another version of the movie.

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I have still to this day not seen Attack of the Clones but I have heard the score and I like "Across the Stars", a very epic and beautiful theme that almost rivals "Han Solo and the Princess" from Empire.

Personally, I don't think Williams never again came to the heights of the period '77 - '81, there's something raw and primal about the sound from Williams and the London Symphony Orchestra from that era that I thought was gone even at the time when Jedi was released, it could be a result of the studio and the mixing at that time but just take a listen to the brass in Star Wars or Raiders and you'll know what I'm talking about. Everything sounded so slick and perfect later on.

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If you look at the PT vs OT, many things were different when Lucas made the PT compared to the OT.  He had Kershner and Marquand direct the OT sequels, while he directed all 3 PT movies.   He had Kasdan write the OT sequels, while he wrote all 3 PT movies.  He had a hands-on Producers in Kurtz who didnt cater to everything on Lucas, whereas Rick McCallum was a total lacky to everything Lucas wanted.

The one thing that didn't change with the OT and PT is John Williams, hence why the music for all 6 movies is great. 

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There are some nice moments in the PT scores (like, Anakin's Theme, I think it's called). I've actually only bought one of the PT scores- ROTS because it came with that DVD of OT/PT music videos hosted by Ian McDiarmid.

But overall, the prequel music is lackluster. Williams' composing definitely is not what it once was, but I also think he was a bit uninspired when it came time to write for the prequels.

I forget if it was here or on another forum, but someone had it on good authority that Williams was not looking forward to the PT project.

The most-listened to score for me is ROTJ.

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"If you will not turn to the Dark Side, then perhaps she will"

"Neveeeeeer!!!!!!!!!!"

IMO, that's the best bit of music in Star Wars, and no cue from the prequels is as intense. I still enjoy the scores quite a bit, even if they're really derivative.

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great music examples in PT:

the music in AOTC starting with dooku arriving on coruscant to meet sidious all the way to the iris out is awesome (the jedi temple part had such a sense of eerie calm).  Order 66 would have been really interesting if the CGI wasnt so garish and if it had no sound effects, just music.  and I wish the scene with anakin and padme looking at each other across the city wasn't so faint because that music was chilling on the OST. kinda reminded me of the original friday the 13th, when brenda was in the shower room half-wondering if she was alone or being watched.

 but there are also pieces that i didn't like - which is something I cant say for the OOT.  and when you have a lousy scene, it compounds it.  The music selections and editing were also poor.

most glaring example is the trade federation march when anakin raids the temple in ROTS. WTF!?

I did't like the mustafar theme and the music for the sequence starting with anakin arriving on mustafar -->obiwan, bail and yoda returning to coruscant --> emperor abolishes the republic -->and ending with anakin killing Gunray.  that music just really misfired for me and that whole portion I have a problem with ( I never liked how coruscant looks in broad daylight and the scene with yoda taking down the clonetroopers looks so cartoonish).

Still baffling that the SW theme itself is hardly played in PT :(

The OT, all the music is great - even ROTJ had great emperors theme and endor themes.  Only mark i have is ESB plays those 9 notes of The Imperial March too many times.  really too bad because the middle part of that theme is great if you heard the soundtrack. 

as for williams overall - i love the piece of battle hymns when Nixon is at the lincoln memorial and all the protestors wake up and realize its him. 

 just awesome.

click here if lack of OOT got you down

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TheBoost said:

ps.

STENDEC, I love both your avatar and your handle.

 

Thank you! :D Can't go past TIE Fighter when it comes to awesome Star Wars games!

One thing that you guys bring up that I didn't mention before is the overuse of themes from TPM in AotC and RotS, particularly Duel of the Fates and the Trade Federation march. It always stuck out at me as really... lazy for lack of a better term. I tend to think, again, that it was Lucas' desire to reuse the music rather than Williams'. There were examples of reuse in the OT of course, such as the themes for Luke, Leia, Yoda etc. but they always slotted in properly. It felt like a reprise, rather than a recycling of music from the previous films. In the PT I feel it was the opposite. Whenever music from one of the other films appears it sounds like they just went to the archive, dug out the recording and shoved it into the scene because they figured it would fit OK.

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The march of the Jedi temple was NOT the trade federation theme.

DOTF was only used twice, in AOTC and ROTS, in ROTS it was the same recording of the orchestra, but a new recording of the choir part.

and hopefully these unused bits will put things into perspective:

Attack of the Clones

Alternate Finale Snippet:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjkjY18n500&feature=player_embedded)

Revenge of the Sith

Battle of Coruscant (Full Ending Music Restored):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=roFIHTI_viI

Good Guys Arrive Unused Opening

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6zHlLV5ByYfeature=channel_video_title

http://originaltrilogy.com/forum/topic.cfm/The-Star-Wars-Movie-Score-Unused-Replaced-Music-Restoration-Thread/topic/13670/

John Williams score to Return of the Jedi Remastered/Remixed:

http://originaltrilogy.com/forum/topic.cfm/JOHN-WILLIAMS-Star-Wars-Episode-VI-Return-of-the-Jedi-Remastered-Edition/topic/14606/page/1/

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Yeah, he might be thinking of when they used the Trade Federation theme to introduce the clone troopers in AOTC. Terrible decision, I thought.

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this is a really even debate, but I find myself humming and whistling the PT songs more than OT, but that doesn't mean that the PT songs are better than the OT. I feel more nostalgic when I listen to the OT songs because I was like seven or eight when the OTSE's came out.


"You may all go to Hell, and I will go to Texas." Davy Crockett

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I think the fact that the OT is uniformly loved has something to do with some here preferring its score to that of the PT.  Knowing the context of the music significantly adds to enjoyment.  And if we have painful, awkward scenes associated with the music, we will not love it as much.

I can't say I prefer one or the other.  The music is about the only thing in the PT I can hold at an equal level with the OT.  The music really defines what little I can enjoy from the PT.  Some great moments were the arrival on Coruscant in TPM, Dooku's arrival at the end of AOTC, and nearly all of ROTS was well-scored.

The OT music will always be a classic, but I feel it is aging somewhat, especially ANH.  I can hardly listen to most of ANH anymore except for the main theme, the Death Star battle, and Leia's theme.  ESB has the best music of all the movies to me.  There is not a dull track as far as I'm concerned.

I have to say the recordings of the main theme are always better in the OT.  The PT recordings sound way too clean and suppressed.  As someone said before, there is something raw and primal about it that unfortunately the PT never matches.

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fishmanlee said:

Some have speculated that that music was written for a version of the scene when Obi-wan sees the Trade Federation ships, and was repurposed for the Clone Troopers.

When/where/how would that scene have been? Tell me more.