“Episode II” soundtrack released

Ted Pigeon

Twenty-five years ago, a little movie called “Star Wars” graced movie screens all over the world and revolutionized filmmaking forever. Even today, the film still endures as one of the most imaginative movies ever made. But it’s not just visual style that makes “Star Wars” the masterpiece that it is, since much of the creative energy for this and other “Star Wars” movies stems from the music. Like the movie itself, John Williams’ famous score was an instant classic from the moment it burst into melody in the opening moments of the film. Williams went on to compose every “Star Wars” adventure since. All of these scores are opera length and are each a masterful musical achievement in their own unique ways. Williams’ latest “Star Wars” contribution, “Attack of the Clones,” is no exception. It flourishes with orchestral genius and mystically captures the old-fashioned sense of epic absent from films and music today.

Over the course of four films, Williams has composed some 20 themes as well as hours of rich underscore. For this latest film, many of these older themes are present and provide the score with a solid backbone, ranging from the traditional “Force Theme” to the exhilarating choral piece, “Duel of the Fates” from the “Phantom Menace.” Thematically, this score has its share of huge surprises, as a few very familiar themes from the original trilogy unexpectedly return. But oddly enough, the focus of this score is on none of these themes. The focus is on a love theme entitled “Across the Stars.” Don’t lose hope if the idea of a love theme is making you uneasy, because this is undoubtedly one of the best and most emotional pieces that John Williams has ever written.

This new theme represents the budding love between Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala in the film. It is a melody full of melancholy, yet it is still elegant and hauntingly beautiful. It has a dualist nature to it that flawlessly captures the essence of forbidden love. The theme is developed throughout the score, starting as a small, melodic solo for the piano and cello. Around the middle of the score, it becomes more playful, to represent a naïve sense of hope. But as the theme develops, it receives some very mature and heartbreaking renditions that are nothing short of spectacular.

What’s very unique about this album is how it musically tells a story. As it plays on, there is an oncoming sense of urgency. Spread throughout the score to balance the thematic development is a huge amount of chaotic action music, driven by percussion and backed by a frantic orchestra. These moments provide some of the most cherished and original music that the Maestro has ever composed, as he incorporates everything from tribal drums to an electric guitar.

Near the end, the music creates a strong feeling of sadness. It develops into a stronger musical venture, with some truly superb militaristic-sounding, brassy music. At the very end of the album, the famous “Imperial March” otherwise known as “Darth Vader’s Theme” rears its ugly head and will undoubtedly blow any listener away, since it is one of the most recognizable pieces of music. When it’s finally heard in full throttle, it’s very hard to believe that you’re actually hearing it. And with one final sweeping rendition of “Across The Stars,” the listening experience ends on a very solemn note.

“Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones,” is a fantastic score. It is yet another bona fide masterpiece from John Williams, who musically takes the saga in new directions and explores uncharted territory, while keeping the classic tone of “Star Wars” that we all know and love. Because this album provides such a balanced and absorbing listening experience, it will please not only the many “Star Wars” enthusiasts, but also anyone seeking great music. It has everything that one could hope for, including plenty of action music, triumphant fanfares and one astonishingly poetic theme that evokes an unparalleled amount of emotion.