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Star Wars: Episode 1 The Phantom Menace

Track List:
  1. Star Wars Main Title and The Arrival at Naboo 2:55
  2. Duel of the Fates 4:14
  3. Anakin's Theme 3:09
  4. Jar Jar's Introduction and The Swim to Otoh Gunga 5:07
  5. The Sith Spacecraft and The Droid Battle 2:37
  6. The Trip to the Naboo Temple and The Audience with Boss Nass 4:07
  7. The Arrival at Tatooine and The Flag Parade 4:04
  8. He Is the Chosen One 3:53
  9. Anakin Defeats Sebulba 4:24
  10. Passage through the Planet Core 4:40
  11. Watto's Deal and Kids at Play 4:57
  12. Panaka and the Queen's Protectors 3:24
  13. Queen Amidala and the Naboo Palace 4:51
  14. The Droid Invasion and The Appearance of Darth Maul 5:14
  15. Qui-Gon's Noble End 3:48
  16. The High Council Meeting and Qui-Gon's Funeral 3:09
  17. Augie's Great Municipal Band and End Credits 9:37

Total Time: (74:07)

Composition/Conducting: John Williams

Performance: The London Symphony Orchestra

Ah, Star Wars. Where would film music be without Star Wars music. In 1977 John Williams created a force :) that won the entire world over, and twenty-two years later he did it all over again. Being the fourth venture into SW scoring, even though over twenty years have passed Williams has proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that Star Wars means quality, and not just that, the music is great fun to listen to as well. What Star Wars fan didn't get the new Duel of the Fates theme stuck in their heads after watching the movie? What fan of Star Wars isn't glad to see Williams back in action with the London Symphony? What fan of Star Wars doesn't find that the music even surpasses the film this time around? Not many, believe me.

Despite the fact that most fans considered this to be the weakest Star Wars film to date (I personally rank it third), many have remarked that it still brings out Williams' true talent. This score is indeed smilar to it's predecessors and greatly mature by comparison, yet still not the best in the series as it is greatly overshadowed by The Empire Strikes Back in thematic power and I therefore rank episode 1 in second place immediately behind it.

Like others, I believe the best aspect of the new SW score to be the great new dueling theme, which Williams himself has claimed as one of his favorite works. This album contains the concert version of the theme in track 2. Track 3 presents Anakin's new theme in concert format as well, adding bits of the Imperial March to masterfully foreshadow events in the young boy's future. My favorite track is "Qui-Gon's Noble End," (I hope you've seen the movie) which brings the dueling theme full circle, and contains one of the most dramatic moments of Williams' career. The point at which Qui-Gon is actually stabbed is undoubtedly my favorite moment in the whole score. I'm not being morbid, I just think that it has incredible impact.

Oddly the use of the main theme has been greatly trimmed. It appears a few times but never sustains itself outside of the opening and closing titles. The only other returning theme apart from the two previously mentioned is the emperor's theme from Return of the Jedi which shows up in tracks 14 and 17, the latter containing an strangely light-hearted version of it in the guise of "Augie's Great Municipal Band." This track is actually a bit of a dissapointment for Williams however. It seems to me no matter how excellent a composer he has become, John has just never gotten the use of synth down quite correctly.

The album finishes with rather dull end credits, which unfortunately do not contain any large or conclusive codas as in previous outings. Instead, we are treated to long cut-and-paste playings of the two new concert themes. In the film, once Anakin's theme has exhausted itself you can hear Darth Vader's breathing apparatus for a few seconds which has been unfortunately cut out of this album release. I'm unsure if the Vader is heard at the end of the expanded edition soundtrack, which I haven't bought yet (for which I sincerely apologize), but I would assume that he is.

The Phantom Menace isn't really John Williams' crowing achievement, but it is a wonderful score none the less. If you're a fan of Star Wars, you almost definitely have this already. If you're not a Star Wars fan I pity you, but in any case you need to purchase this instant classic.

Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace is copyright 1999 Sony Classical. This review is written by and is the property of Isaac Engelhorn and does not reflect the opinions of Tripod.