John Williams’ musical contribution to star wars is one of the most iconic aspects of the franchise, but can star wars survive without it? Instantly identifiable star wars theme song to the many character themes and epic moments in its music, its influence on the franchise is arguably second only to George Lucas himself.
All nine episodes of the Skywalker saga were composed by Williams, setting a tone that permeates every star wars film and show, even those in which he was not directly involved. Other composers like Michael Giacchino, John Powell and Ludwig Göransson have left their mark on star wars stories, but they’re still following in Williams’ footsteps, and all star wars the music still lives in Williams’ shadow.
star wars is clearly capable of creating iconic moments and memorable musical themes without the legendary composer, but how will the franchise change as it moves forward to tell future stories without his input? The successes and failures of the franchise’s Disney era demonstrate just how integral Williams’ music is to star warsand how much he will be missed, but it also shows how much star wars can maintain that star wars feel that new composers are leaving their mark on the franchise.
Why John Williams Is An Integral Part Of The Star Wars Storytelling
John Williams’ music is as much a fabric of star wars franchise like anything else, from George Lucas’ storytelling to Ralph McQuarrie’s concept art to Joe Johnston’s vehicle and character designs, the many visual effects pioneers and other contributors are all part of the magic cocktail that earned star wars its place in cinema, but the storytelling and the thematic influence of Williams’ music is certainly one of the most indispensable elements of this magic.
Mark Hamill tweeted once this “After George Lucas, no one is more responsible for the success of Star Wars than John Williams.” According to Screen Crush, Lucas originally planned to use existing classical music for the star wars score, but Steven Spielberg convinced Lucas to work with Williams after hiring him as a composer for Jaws. Lucas’ initial editing of the film was scored with music by composers like Beethoven and Tchaikovsky and fell short of the mark, but after Williams joined in, his contribution, full of character themes and fashioned leitmotifs star wars into something akin to a modern version of Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle. Who knows how Lucas’ original vision for the music would have been received, but Williams has been repeatedly credited with “saving” star wars.
The Mandalorian proves the viability of fresh Star Wars music
While Williams’ music undeniably has an influence on star warsthe franchise enjoyed success without him. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was scored by Michael Giacchino and Solo: A Star Wars Story was scored by John Powell, both of whom imitated Williams’ style and incorporated his themes and leitmotifs, but The Mandalorian was the first live action star wars to really branch out in a new direction with Ludwig Göransson’s score. The MandalorianThe music of star wars frankness, but with a much more stripped down and western approach to The Mandalorian score, it stands out as the most unique star wars music and it works.
An aspect of The Mandalorian The series’ success is generally attributed to its focus on mostly new and unfamiliar characters, which could also have a big impact on the reception of Göransson’s score. It doesn’t reject Williams’ established themes outright, but thanks to the initial focus on new characters and planets, it didn’t have to; however, as familiar characters begin to appear in The MandalorianWilliams’ leitmotifs can sometimes be heard in Göransson’s thread mandalorian score. Unfortunately, although this approach worked with The Mandalorian, that doesn’t mean it can be the modus operandi for all future star wars stories, because all corners of the star wars the universe have the freedom to escape the influence of Williams star wars music.
What Star Wars loses without Williams
The spine of the star wars franchise will always be the Skywalker saga, which was written entirely by Williams. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Solo: A Star Wars Story both do a great job of developing new music in the vein of Williams star wars language, but the imitation can only survive so long without the original master. Obi Wan Kenobi is an unfortunate example. While composer Natalie Holt taps into Williams with her score, and Williams himself even contributed the Obi-Wan theme to the show, there are still moments with big thematic ties to the greater Skywalker saga that don’t quite capture the thematic resonance star wars is known for having Williams composing the music, as seen in reactions to a recent video that re-enacted Obi-Wan and Vader’s climactic duel in Obi Wan Kenobiusing Williams’ “Battle of the Heroes” Star Wars: Revenge of the Siththe soundtrack of.
These characters have a long on-screen history, and therefore a long history of musical narration by Williams, so the absence of Williams’ musical language prevents the narration from having the same thematic weight as their duel at the end of the prequels. . That doesn’t mean Williams has to make that story himself for it to reach its full potential, but without tapping into Williams. star wars language in a larger way, the crescendo of musical storytelling doesn’t match the importance of on-screen combat, which is not true of any of the climactic battles scored by Williams.
Apart from Williams, no composer has written more star wars music as Kevin Kiner, who scored shows like Star Wars: The Clone Wars, star wars rebelsand Star Wars: The Bad Batch. In an interview with Screen Rant, Kiner described his process, referencing his copy of Williams’ original star wars score is “All dog-eared and annotated much like some people annotate their textbook when they’re studying for something or their Bibles.” He is sure to differentiate his approach from the simple “emulation” of Williams, likening it more to learning a language. Williams’ themes are all evocative and mean something to the point that they tell the star wars story on its own (at least in terms of overall themes and character arcs) without relying on dialogue or visuals to fill in the blanks. Accordingly, while Kiner’s scores fit where necessary into Williams’ music, with his music for The clone wars in keeping with the tone of the prequels and star wars rebels music to match the original trilogy, it’s still branching out into new musical styles that are totally unlike anything Williams has done for star wars, while adopting the same storytelling language that means something to a discerning ear. “I’m not really trying to imitate John, I’m using my own voice, but I think I’ve studied his orchestration and studied him for so long that it’s part of my songwriting, you know. I try to use my own voice, but I pay homage to it.”
While the simple act of hiring composers to try and deliver John Williams imitated music is certainly a way to maintain the classic star wars ambiance, and can work in many situations, it is the equivalent of The MandalorianThe decision to use a young, CGI-created Luke Skywalker instead of casting a new actor. The advantage of looking like a young Mark Hamill in his first appearance quickly fades with more screen time as the CGI Luke, with AI-generated dialogue in Hamill’s voice, becomes an empty shell designed to “feel” like the character the audience loves, but lacking a proper performance to bring the character to life.
Continue on this path, focusing more on manufacturing star wars feel like star wars than tapping into the kind of storytelling language that made it iconic in the first place. The Mandalorian proves you can tell interesting Star Wars stories with an entirely new approach to music, and Kevin Kiner’s approach shows that it’s possible to retain Williams’ storytelling language without simply remixing established themes, so j hope this is definitely a direction star wars continues in future stories as the franchise moves forward without John Williams.
Next: Lucasfilm’s Misdiagnosis On Solo Shows Shows They’re Out Of Touch With Star Wars
- Rogue Squadron (2023)Release date: December 22, 2023
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