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:


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!


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