Look and Find #4: Empire Strikes Back ‘Imperial March’

Welcome to the fourth post in the “Look and Find” series. The process is straightforward: look across the length of a film/video game for leitmotifs/themes, transcribe them, find other instances of them, detail them with instrumentation as well as notable characteristics and permutations, and post them here! Again from The Empire Strikes Back (1980), we have the Imperial March.

Imperial March:

ImperialMarch.png

Note that the Imperial March is ONLY introduced in Empire, not in the original Star Wars. Anything that concerns the Empire or Darth Vader has this theme accompanying it. Throughout the series, though, it is a theme that wholly represents Darth Vader more than the Empire. As it is a march, there are obvious military connotations, a uniformity and precision in its melodic structure through the constant quarter note rhythm (“Only imperial stormtroopers are so precise”).

Specific time stamps of this theme:

19:45 – First example, the Empire searches for the hidden Rebel base, and the music also underscores Darth Vader’s conversations with Imperial officers.

30:25 – Very quick burst of the theme inside the hectic ‘Battle of Hoth’ sequence, as General Veers orders the targeting of the shield generator.

34:09 – Darth Vader introduction.

34:43 – Another Darth Vader intro.

36:50 – Interlude shot of Imperial fleet.

44:17 – Another Interlude shot.

52:14 – ANOTHER interlude shot.

*53:37 – Notice how the theme is NOT used. There may be other hidden forces at work in the scene ahead *foreshadowing the giant space worm*.

1:05:43 – yet ANOTHER interlude shot.

1:23:26 – Beware the Dark Side, notice the lack of solid rhythm: less about the empire and more about the Force.

1:30:26 – Again, lack of strict rhythm as Han is to be interrogated.

1:31:19 – Same as above.

1:34:35 – Same, but now with regards to being frozen in carbonite.

1:36:38 – Something something Dark Side!

*Notice that during the battle between Luke and Vader, no music is played until the later part. This creates uncertainty and even anxiety as we watch.

1:46:00 – Dark Side is overwhelming Luke, his will is being broken.

1:51:15 – The big one! The ultimate reveal. As if Luke has been through enough he has this giant bomb of a revelation dropped on him.

Did you find other examples of the theme in the film? Thought this was boring? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Advertisements

Look and Find #3: Empire Strikes Back ‘The Force’ Theme

Welcome to the third post in the “Look and Find” series. The process is straightforward: look across the length of a film/video game for leitmotifs/themes, transcribe them, find other instances of them, detail them with instrumentation as well as notable characteristics and permutations, and post them here! Again from The Empire Strikes Back (1980), we have the Force theme.

The Force theme:

ForceTheme.png

 

These theme is used all OVER the place. It seems that characters talk about/use the Force a lot in these movies. It features an initial upward interval which is typical of Williams, and has a very straightforward melodic contour which to me is oddly satisfying. What I mean is that the melody slowly rises to a climax on F in mm. 6 before falling. just look at all of the half notes to really see what I am talking about. It’s simplicity leads to being memorable.

Also of significance is the harmony, which is simple as well. We start with the tonic minor which lasts us for most of the initial melody, up until mm.4. Then we jump to a major subdominant. Just these two basic chords are a big deal in film music, you can find them all over the place. As an example, check out “Rey’s Theme” from The Force Awakens (2015).

Specific time stamps of this theme:

9:30 – Luke concentrates as he tries to summon his lightsaber.

13:18 – Here the theme is associated with Ben, using the Force to communicate with Luke from death.

32:12 – As the Rebels retreat from the Empire to escape, leading into Luke playing up an AT-AT.

47:10 – This happens before Yoda appears. Think about Luke’s assumptions about Yoda before he meets him. Consider also how no music is played while Yoda fools around Luke’s camp. What does that mean?

55:40 – As Ben says “He will learn patience,” as if from nowhere.

56:59 – Again, as Bend speaks: “so was I if you remember.”

1:10:40 – Yoda describes what the Force is.

1:16:59 – Again Yoda is talking about the Force, which is suddenly interrupted as Luke receives a vision of the future.

1:23:13 – Ben appears for real!

1:24:46 – Very interesting scene. The theme seems unsure of itself at first, but as Luke shows his confidence the theme becomes stronger, only to taper off as he realizes that he might fail!

Notice how the Force theme is not played at all while Luke is on Bespin. Yoda and Ben did say that they would not be able to help him. This is especially significant as Luke tries to contact Ben while dangling above the sky, only to be met with silence.

1:53:42 – However, he IS able to contact Leia and the theme finally comes back.

2:00:05 – At the end as we see that Luke has managed to survive the crushing encounter with Vader.

Did you find other examples of the theme in the film? Thought this was boring? Let me know in the comments below!

Look and Find #2: Empire Strikes Back ‘Han and Leia’ Theme

Welcome to the second post in the “Look and Find” series. The process is straightforward: look across the length of a film/video game for leitmotifs/themes, transcribe them, find other instances of them, detail them with instrumentation as well as notable characteristics and permutations, and post them here! Again from The Empire Strikes Back (1980), we have the love theme.

Han Solo and Princess Leia’s Love theme:

HanandLeia.png

John Williams just loves the sixth interval. Something about starting a love theme with the sixth just brings out the tears (see Indiana Jones love theme, as well as Across The Stars). The sixth is also used for Leia’s own theme from the previous film. In this film the theme is used in juxtaposition to Han and Leia often arguing and generally not liking each other, until the ‘big kiss’.

Specific time stamps of this theme:

3:41 – First appearance. It is used to signify the first appearance of Han, which should strike audiences as odd considering the character from the previous film would NOT fit well with this very romantic music. Hmmm…seems as though Mr. Williams is trying to foreshadow something…

6:11 – This is a great example of what I mentioned before, a clear statement of the love theme while the two characters argue in the hall.”you could USE a good kiss!”

33:53 – Just audibly heard. I can’t actually tell if this is the Love theme or Leia’s theme, maybe someone could give me their thoughts? Isn’t Han so nice “taking her out on the Falcon”?

35:26 – They escaped! Wonderful! Interestingly, also used for Luke escaping Hoth as well.

40:06 – Yay! They escaped again! Notice the borderline goofy upwards sweep as the Falcon turns over into the crater. And as they descend into the unknown asteroid abyss, spooky music.

50:44 – This is THE scene for this theme. It starts of slow as they again argue. Then it builds…and it builds…until the ‘big kiss’. How romantic. Of course, the theme ends on a cliffhanger with C3PO interrupting, notice how quickly the music drops off as soon as he appears.

1:16:00 – “You do have your moments. Not many…but you do have them.”

1:26:05 – While they still argue, notice they aren’t as hostile. A sweet little kiss on the forehead, awww. Notice the unresolved melody as Leia says, “then you’re as good as gone, aren’t you?”

1:32:24 – Reunited in jail.

1:33:31 – “You certainly have a way with people.”

1:35:09 – Look at that longing gaze into each other’s eyes. So romantic.

1:35:45 – The classic. “I love you”, “I know…”

1:37:13 – The music is less romantic, more tragic. For goodness sake, the love of her life has been frozen in carbonite, how would YOU feel?

1:43:00 – Now it has morphed into a chase theme as they race to save Han, as 3PO explains.

1:47:39 – Same purpose, only now THEY are the ones being chased.

1:48:16 – Starts as soon as the door begins to open. They may not have saved Han, but they have managed to escape, yay again!

2:01:03 – Used at the end when everyone is save and things are looking hopeful. Last time heard before the credits.

Did you find other examples of the theme in the film? Thought this was boring? Let me know in the comments below!

Welcome to the first post in the “Look and Find” series. The process is straightforward: look across the length of a film/video game for leitmotifs/themes, transcribe them, find other instances of them, detail them with instrumentation as well as notable characteristics and permutations, and post them here! First up is The Empire Strikes Back (1980), a horse I will ride regardless of whether it has been beaten.

The obvious ‘Star Wars’ theme:

StarWarsTheme.png

This is the theme in its most basic format, appearing during the opening crawl and setting the stage for the film. It also acts as a leitmotif for Luke Skywalker during his more heroic actions. Almost exclusively played on trumpet, or other brass, but sometimes played on Flute.

Specific time stamps of this theme:

:29s – opening crawl.

3:13 – Established as Luke’s theme when we first see him.

9:47 – quickly heard as Luke ignites the lightsaber to free himself from the Wampa cave.

25:16 – heard as the rebel transport ship escapes from Hoth past the Star Destroyer.

31:06 – after Luke’s snowspeeder crashes. Lower, slower, and possibly more ominous?

31:35 – Han checking on Leia, played on flute, still slow.

32:03 – Leia: “give the evacuation code signal”.

41:49 – Luke is so mad right now, *facepalms*.

55:59 – Luke realizes who Yoda truly is, and is a little cocksure about being ready to be a Jedi. Note how as soon as he foolishly bangs his head the music cuts out to Yoda lambasting him.

57:20 – Luke immaturely says “I won’t fail you, I’m not afraid.” He continues to be headstrong. Yoda, ever wise, makes things very clear: “You will be. You will be.”

1:03:08 – Luke is all ready to face whatever he finds in that cave, taking his weapons with him (ignoring Yoda’s advice).

1:05:26 – Luke begins to realize: he has failed this test. a very solemn version of the theme as he see’s his own face under the mask of Darth Vader.

1:10:10 – Another failure of Luke, to grasp the Force fully and lift his X-Wing ship. Remember when Luke was running around saying he was ready to be a Jedi? When he said he wasn’t afraid? Those were great times…

1:22:52 – Used as a sort of interlude. Luke’s heroic nature compels him to rescue his friends despite better judgement.

1:24:32 – Luke accepts that he will face Darth Vader alone, he has the confidence. Will he manage to pull through?

1:25:28 – In this case the theme is used as an interlude, notice the interesting changes to the final measures of this theme as the shift to the forefront of the music and back.

1:29:00 – Again, an interlude function to cut back to Luke. I feel that these ‘interlude’ uses are just a way to make the transition between settings/characters smoother.

1:34:19 – Interlude.

After this, there is NO theme until after Luke is rescued and safe.

1:59:41 – Great job Luke, that fight went REAL well…only one hand lost! Hmm, maybe being cocksure and heroic isn’t everything when it comes to the way of the Jedi.

2:01:50 – credits, yay! Everything turned out great for the heroes…except that it didn’t.

 

Did you find other examples of the theme in the film? Thought this was boring? Let me know in the comments below!