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Review by Brad Green:
It must have been an unrivalled experience. Sitting in a darkened theatre, watching the text fade into the depths of deep space as John Williamsí marching-beat fanfare filled the room. It must have been exhilarating to take in the wonderful music and majestic visuals with the senses unsullied by the overexposure soon to come, or by foreknowledge of the sterile storyline.†

I do regret having missed that moment. Iím not quite sure what was preoccupying my prepubescent mind in 1977, but for some reason a viewing of George Lucasí great advance in sci-fi cinema was not among the entertainments I bugged the oldies for that year. So I came to Star Wars in piecemeal fashion; and having missed out on the instantaneous impression of that opening sequence, Iíve long been underwhelmed by the whole extravaganza. The music is miraculous of course, but in my mind itís always had an existence of its own, isolated in some corner of the cosmos from the sci-fi circus that spawned it. Notwithstanding the first few minutes, Star Wars has always struck me as a tenth rate reworking of Kurosawa; the poetry of his medieval milieu having been siphoned off, and the residue flung into the extremities of time and space.†

If it werenít for the music, Iíd just as soon it had disappeared down a black hole. Even Sir Alec Guinness expressed regret in latter years, as he pondered how much damage the cult of the special-effects blockbuster had rendered to the art of filmmaking. Still, his bank manager was no doubt chuffed by his turns as Obi-Wan; and as for the fans, Attack Of The Clones doesnít seem to carry the same implication of irony that it does for me.†

Not that the music is becoming repetitive. Itís hard to tire of that classic theme, and in any case itís only used for bookends here. In between, the bulk of the score is anything but incidental; Williams is in his most playful mood and as usual The Force is with him, AKA The London Symphony Orchestra.†

The performers might be British, but this is the quintessential Hollywood sound. At least in its contemporary form, of which Williams is perhaps the premier pioneer. His trademark action cues are here, swelling with strings, brass and percussion; and periodically augmented by shrilly trilling piccolos or a surprise from left galaxy Ė electric guitar! The dynamics leap between extremities, and Williamsí fantastical woodwinds do their usual service at the gentle end. Pretty and magical as starlight. The entire soundtrack sways to the flow of dramatic tension, and itís almost enough to have a Star Wars cynic thinking there might be something interesting going on in the plot. There is also a stronger romantic element than ever before, with a bittersweet love theme acting as the scoreís principal motif.†

Now that Sir Alec has made his final exit, I feel a little lonely in my Star Wars apathy. So I owe a deep debt of gratitude to John Williams. At least thereís one element of the saga I can always count on cherishing along with the rest of mankind.

Published June 6, 2002

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TITLE: Star Wars (Episode II: Attack Of The Clones)
ID: SK 89932

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