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Keeping Score
Oscar Winner John Williams Returns for a Final, Stirring Star Wars Soundtrack

George Lucas has often said that sound is at least 50 percent of the movie-going experience. An incalculable contribution to the sound tapestry of Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith is made by John Williams, whose collaboration with Lucas stretches across the entire saga, heightening the action, deepening the emotion and leaving moviegoers around the world to exit the cinema humming and whistling Williams's indelible melodies.

"I'm very happy about completing the full cycle of Star Wars movies,” says Williams.

"George and I have been working together on these for 28 years; it's one of the most enduring partnerships in cinematic history.” The London Symphony Orchestra, which has performed on all six movies, has also been a key musical contributor since the beginning.

"It's not something we really planned,” he says. "It's like a good marriage; you look back at it after all those years and say, ‘Wow, we made it, in spite of all the challenges.'”

Lucas agrees. "John is a wonderful collaborator. The movies just would not be the same without his music and the emotion it brings.”

Even after all these years, Williams says scoring a Star Wars movie remains a formidable challenge. "These movies demand more music than any films I know of,” Williams says. "The music starts from the opening shot and continues for nearly the full running time. It has to be tailored to all of the minute details and actions.”

Williams notes he was especially pleased with the score for Revenge of the Sith. "George did an exceptional job of weaving in the connecting links between the two trilogies, and I wanted to do the same thing musically. Episode III has more musical references from the first trilogy than the previous two pictures.”

Those references include "The Force Theme” and "Leia's Theme,” the latter of which has not been heard onscreen since 1983; the "Imperial March,” which again comes to the forefront as Darth Vader becomes central to the action; and the triumphant "Throne Room” theme from A New Hope.

There are a host of new compositions, as well, including a theme for General Grievous, which Williams describes as "fun with a lot of percussion” and choral pieces that the composer terms "lamentations” to accompany the dark turns in the plot.

"I couldn't be happier with the score John has written for the final Star Wars movie,” Lucas says. "It's a great blend of light and dark, of familiar and new.”

Given the film's dark theme, it might be assumed that this would be Williams's darkest film score. The composer says that assumption isn't necessarily so: "Sometimes the music is a counterpoint to the darkness. You can be looking at something quite horrific on screen, but the music can provide a sense of compassion.”

Moreover, the music heightens the hopeful aspects of the story, elements Williams says are at least as important as the dark imaginings. "Revenge of the Sith has the contour of great human stories, in which people accomplish wonderful things amidst the terrible happenings that surround them.”

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