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Soundtrack review: Star Wars episode III: Revenge of the Sith (John Williams – 2005)

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Episode III of the „Star Wars” was probably the story I was most anxious to see on screen. As much as I enjoyed the first two prequels they were just a prologue to the story me and millions of fans wanted to see: how Anakin Skywalker finally turned into Darth Vader. I mean, is there another movie story more fascinating than this one? Forget any other origin story…this is the one…I remember this as the most exciting trailer I ever saw…I still watch it every once in a while…Unparalleled excitement and anticipation! I remember that day in May 10 years ago when the movie opened…I came back from a trip earlier especially to catch the midnight premiere at the cinema. We went in a big group (some 11-12 persons) and I was annoyed with each and every one of my friends during the movie because they were taking it as seriously as I was. And then there’s that final fight scene when Obi Wan tearfully shouts at a dying Anakin “You were the chosen one!!” and I still get goose bumps every time I see it.

“Revenge of the Sith” is my favorite of the “Star Wars” scores. I will get this out of the way first. I am never writing objectively about film music because there’s nothing objective about it. My relationship with music is about how it touches me, moves me or how it’s connected to a special moment in my life. I don’t care that the first three scores might be better musically. This is the one I lived. I saw the original Star Wars countless times when I was a kid and later but I feel closer to the prequels. I lived them from inception to release, I breathed them, I anticipated them for years and I also saw them when I was already a film music lover.

Besides, “Revenge of the Sith” features the best choral work ever recorded for film or TV. I don’t know what happened when they were recording, but I’m sure The London Voices choir broke a few windows and scared a few hundred people in the neighborhood. There’s nothing better than “Battle of the heroes”. There’s no theme more heroic or epic then this. In fact I should say that there’s epic and there’s “Battle of the heroes”. It’s totally worthy of the most famous and beloved franchise in the world.

The choral work is not all about the awesome might. There are parts than can break your heart too…Choruses are used to show us Anakin and Padme’s separate tribulations…”Anakin’s Dark deeds” is as dark as they get but very subdued. John Williams makes a point and makes us feel what Anakin did both with this cue and with another elegy “Anakin’s betrayal”. This is another theme that goes all the way up my spine to the back of my head.

The choral wonders have one another variation in “Padme’s ruminations”…this time it’s a haunting and uncomfortable solo voice coming as if from a vision or a nightmare. I understand these characters and their tribulations because John Williams is such an amazing composer. “The birth of the twins” features the softest choir yet and rightfully so. The tone is quiet but it slowly builds up into something serious and deep that actually gives me the chills. The fate of those kids is still cloudy and this theme makes us worry for them

“Revenge of the Sith” is 71 minutes long but thick as they come. It’s the crowning achievement of this saga. I love everything about it. I love how fresh it still sounds, I love how powerful it is, I love how my favorite theme from “Attack of the clones”, “Across the stars” sneaks in every now and then and then there’s that end credits suite again…”A new hope and end credits” summarizes the score and the franchise even with a medley of the best themes. Every time I listen to this score I feel empowered, immortal and, most of all, grateful that someone like John Williams is still around, strong as ever.

And there’s the added bonus that this year we will get another Star Wars score from him… It is the first time ever when I look forward to a Star Wars score more than a movie.

Cue ratings: 96 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 58 / 71

Album excellence: 82%

Highlights:

Star Wars And The Revenge Of The Sith

Anakin’s Dream

Battle Of The Heroes

Anakin’s Betrayal

Padme’s Ruminations

Anakin Vs. Obi-Wan

Anakin’s Dark Deeds

Enter Lord Vader

The Immolation Scene

Grievous Speaks To Lord Sidious

The Birth Of The Twins And Padme’s Destiny

A New Hope And End Credits

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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