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Soundtrack review: Star Wars episode II: Attack of the clones (John Williams – 2002)

Contrary to popular opinion and to the verdict of most fans i really enjoyed the Star Wars prequels. The second episode, „Attack of the clones” is where Anakin started showing his dark side and these is where the first seeds of the future Darth Vader are planted. He starts bending if not breaking Jedi rules by giving in to his anger and exacting revenge on those who killed his mother and by falling in love with Padme. This was the hardest urge to fight and the toughest decision to make. The rule says „A Jedi shall now know love”. Despite the advice of all those around him Anakin gives in to his feelings and marries Padme.

For me this is the most important ark of this second movie and not just because had this rule not been broken we wouldn’t have had Luke and Leia but also because it showed the unpredictability and volatility of Anakin in front of the sacred Jedi rules. “Attack of the clones” is the most beautiful love story from the Star Wars franchise.

John Williams saw things the same way. I haven’t talked to him (yet) but I would ask him that. I say this because the dominant and most memorable new theme from „Attack of the clones” is the love theme. „Across the stars” is a show stopper and a true cue to rule a galaxy. John Williams is the master of themes. No other composer has been able to create as many legendary and immortal themes as him. And yet for me „Across the stars” is in the top five. This is how much it touched me and moved me. This is how true love should sound: fierce, dominating, melodic and out of this world beautiful. All of John Williams’ incomparable orchestral might went into this theme and to me it is one of the strongest compositions from the Star Ward universe. Every time I listen to it i feel empowered and determined and I know that nothing can stop what I feel. No decision ever has felt as right as this one. “Across the stars” makes me understand why Anakin Skywalker chose to stay with Padme in spite of everything else. John Williams gave the story life through his music and conveyed the message to me even better than the filmmakers did.

The end scene of the movie, the one where this theme makes me shiver once again, has stuck with me all these years: after the terrible battle and defeating Dooku, after losing one hand, Anakin marries Padme on the edge of a cliff. Everything is filmed as if from a flying bird’s perspective and we don’t even touch the characters. The theme explodes and the movie promises a magnificent last part.

For me “Attack of the clones” is all about this theme. Yes we have the usual Star Wars action themes from John Williams, brilliant as ever, but every time a motif from “Across the stars” comes along it just drowns everything else. This piece dominates even the final battle (and the 11 minutes long final cue) and leaves and unforgettable mark. It’s this end credits cue that I listen to the most from “Attack of the clones”. I play it at full volume and I feel as if I’m in the best concert hall in the world listening to the London Symphony Orchestra give the best performance ever. During “Confrontation with Count Dooku and Finale” the music transcends the movie. There’s no more Yoda or Anakin…it’s just a sublime orchestral composition that keeps me on the edge of my seat anticipating, wishing, suffering and preparing me for the sweet and sublime release of the insert from “Across the stars”.

The “Star Wars” scores have always had unbelievable conclusions but this one is my favorite because it’s the only suite that incorporates my three favorite Star Wars themes: “The imperial march”, “Star Wars theme” and “Across the stars”. And every time you might think it’s all over, another surge comes and sweeps you off your feet. It’s never over. “Across the stars” lives forever. It’s in my every pore.

The most powerful franchise in the world needed powerful motifs every step of the way and every time I am close to thinking that I might be enjoying the six Middle Earth scores that Howard Shore wrote more than the six Star Wars scores I just listen to the end of “Attack of the clones” and my faith is restored…

Cue rating: 91 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 38 / 75

Album excellence: 52%

Highlights:

Main Title And Ambush On Corusant

Across The Stars (Love Theme)

Yoda And The Younglings

Departing Coruscant

Anakin And Padme

Love Pledge And The Arena

Confrontation With Count Dooku And Finale

About the author

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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