John Williams

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]

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With the mixed reactions to the first two prequels in the trilogy, fans and critics alike have been waiting nearly a decade for the third and final installment to the Star Wars saga, the sixth overall in the series. For fans, it's a redemption for having to endure characters such as Jar Jar Binks and the acting of Jake Lloyd in order to watch Anakin Skywalker make the transition to one of the most important villains in all of storytelling: Darth Vader. For critics, it's the ultimate litmus test to see if George Lucas can truly develop and tell a story without leaning too heavily on special effects and the magic of digital wizardry. Throughout the nearly three decades the Star Wars universe has been in existence, the music has played an integral storytelling role equal to the special effects. Composer John Williams has created his own language along with Lucas' character development during the series, and as a result could have easily coasted through the final score. Instead, Williams has more than stepped up to the task, delivering a harrowing score that complements the transition of Anakin Skywalker to the dark side. Familiar motifs in the Star Wars universe -- motifs that are embedded in the consciousness of even the most casual of pop culture fans -- make their appearances here. Some, like "The Imperial March (Darth Vader's Theme)," make their full unabashed return in sweeping, dramatic glory; through subtle placement, half developed passages, and quiet motifs, they were only previously hinted at in the scores of The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. Making less prominent appearances are the anthems of the first two movies, "Duel of the Fates" and "Across the Stars," complementing the eventual transition to the classic trilogy just as much as the visual storytelling itself. Gone are the experimental passages and sequences that relied on heavy tribal and unconventional symphonic instruments, and in their place are long sweeping string passages and quiet, almost drone-like atmospheric moments similar to moments in Claude Debussy's symphonic works. Some passages are so effective in telegraphing their messages that it's possible to envision the events on the screen occurring by just closing one's eyes. But buyer beware: in keeping with tradition of the first two scores of the prequel trilogy, the track titles give away shades and sequences of the plot without deference to ambiguous language. Granted, it's not as bad as the track titles of the first two movies, but it's still easy to decipher the plot twists just by looking at the back cover. Revenge of the Sith holds a place on the mantle with some of the classic scores that made Williams a legendary film composer. It's also a fine closing masterpiece to a series of movies filled with some of the most important musical moments in modern cinematic history. [Also included is a 70-minute DVD examining the history and scores of Star Wars. Essentially footage and highlights from the six movies set to Williams' finest musical moments, this disc brilliantly highlights the relationship between the music and storytelling, and is a must-have for any die-hard fan of the series.]

Track Listing - Disc 1

Title/Composer Performer Time
Star Wars, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, film score
1 7:31
2 4:46
3 3:42
4 4:03
5 4:07
6 5:25
7 3:27
8 3:16
9 3:57
10 4:05
11 4:14
12 2:41
13 2:49
14 3:37
15 13:05

Track Listing - Disc 2

Title/Composer Performer Time
Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope, film score
Star Wars, Episode I: The Phantom Menace, film score
Star Wars, Episode II: Attack of the Clones, film score
Star Wars, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, film score
Star Wars, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, film score
Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope, film score
Star Wars, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, film score
Star Wars, Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, film score
Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope, film score
blue highlight denotes track pick