Soundtracks and the Easy Magnificence of “Empire”

17Apr12

For any number of reasons — wanting to re-live the movie, needing different things to listen to, wanting to stimulate my son’s brain with “classical” style music — I finally uploaded the complete soundtrack to “The Empire Strikes Back” onto my iPod this week.  It’s been interesting, especially since I know ever stitch of music from the movie by heart, as well as the movie itself, so I have had scenes played and replayed in my imagination over and over again, all of which have more or less shown me, once more, the greatness of “Empire”:

1.) The Milenium Falcon, with its quirks and malfunctioning hyperdrive, is as much a character as any person in the movie. This makes complete sense seeing as how it probably has as much screen time as Lando or Chewbacca.

2.) It sounds simple, there don’t appear to be any excessive scenes in the entire film.  Sure, one could argue that the whole snow monster adventure isn’t entirely necessary, but think of all that comes from it:

a – We see how much Han cares for Luke’s safety, shown through action instead of words.

b – Luke sees the vision of Obi-Wan, which almost plays like a halucination, therefore making it that much more interesting than if he’d just up and seen him one day.

c – Not only does the Force get reintroduced with Luke calling his lightsaber to his hand to free himself from the ice, but it shows Luke has progressed as a Jedi, making the training from Yoda a little less daunting. I’ve always admired how sly and simple this scene is. I don’t know if I picked up on this subtext from the actual movie or the comic book version of the movie, but think of it this way: the previous movie ended with Luke’s first successful use of the Force to destroy the Death Star, but the idea of the Force is still very foreign to we Earth people. You can’t spend time in “Empire” having someone give a speech about what the Force is, since we already did that in the previous film. But I feel like that moment when Luke closes his eyes and tries to calm himself (cue John Williams music) works as one of the most effective visual and musical reminders in any movie I’ve ever watched 50 times. Until that point in the film, the Force has not been mentioned once. Then we get this moment of simple, handy, life-saving Force-use which I can imagine works as one of those, “Oh, yeah” moments for the uninitiated. Maybe. I think so.  I like to think so.

3.) It’s a very subtle tactic to have Vader hunting Luke for half the movie before the Emperor actually calls up Vader and tells him, “We have a new enemy: Luke Skywalker.” It shows Vader’s obsession and his willingness to use the entirety of the Empire’s vast resources to find one person. I know it’s not the most brilliant call, but still… what is graciously brilliant is…

4.) The scene assembly. Vader’s conversation with the Emperor — and his pledge to either turn Luke to the Dark Side or kill him — leads us to the scene on Dagobah where we learn Yoda’s true identity and the quest to train Luke is set. Thanks to the Vader-Emperor scene previous, we know exactly what is at stake if Luke doesn’t get his act together.

5.) Probe Droids are some of the few — if not the only — droids in the “Star Wars” saga which have no personality.

More to come for sure.

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