Rogue One’s Score is Impressive, Most Impressive
By Ainslee Flowers
Since the release of its first film on May 25th, 1977, the Star Wars series has become one of the most popular in existence. Much of the films’ success comes from their creator, George Lucas, and his iconic characters and the Star Wars setting. An even more instantly recognizable aspect of these movies, however, is the soundtrack.
A composer for over six decades, Star Wars’ John Williams has also worked to create scores for films such as Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, and Jaws. His contribution to the Star Wars series is legendary, as listeners all over the world (even those who aren’t fans) can immediately identify the franchise by its main theme. Williams has composed for every live-action Star Wars film since 1977 — until now.
In 2016, it was announced that the score for the newest release, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, was not going to be the work of John Williams. This caused an uproar among fans. No one believed that Pixar composer Michael Giacchino would be able to match the legendary John Williams, and while that may have been the case, it certainly wasn’t the point.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is the first live-action movie in the Star Wars series that is not a part of the Skywalker saga (this excludes 2008’s animated film Star Wars: The Clone Wars). Already set apart from the main films of the series, a new composer seems to fit in just right. Giacchino is able to present a more diverse sound that is still recognizable as a Star Wars score. The film’s action-packed scenes involve much more intense, fast-paced violin and percussion rather than the soft and slow buildup that Williams fans are so used to. Several fans have pointed out that Rogue One’s soundtrack almost seems like a blend between the scores of war films such as Saving Private Ryan and its own franchise’s original sound. Giacchino does, of course, include several nods to the more notable scores of the past — snippets of the Imperial March and Force Theme are present throughout Rogue One. Most of the tracks throughout the film are an even blend of both old and new sounds — they maintain the sense of familiarity and nostalgia while also introducing something listeners haven’t ever heard before.
While it might not be able to achieve the strength and legendary status of Williams’ original scores in 1977, Michael Giacchino does a great job of keeping the iconic Star Wars sound while differentiating Rogue One from the films of the Skywalker saga. For a series that has always struggled to bring its fresh ideas into an already familiar world, Giacchino’s work is impressive — most impressive.
Whether listeners enjoyed Giacchino’s additions to the series or not, there’s no need to worry — John Williams has already planned to return for Star Wars’ Episode VIII: The Last Jedi due to release on December 15th, 2017.