August 2005

John Williams - Star WarsEpisode III: Revenge of the Sith
London Symphony Orchestra, John Williams, conductor
Sony Classical SK 94220
Format: CD and DVD
Released: 2005

by Rad Bennett

Musical Performance ****
Recording Quality ****
Video Quality ****
Overall Enjoyment ****

This first-rate release puts the cap on the biggest music-underscore project in the history of film. The Star Wars franchise has taken six movies and nearly three decades of our time and attention. Through it all, John Williams has been the composer of the music, writing scores that have been a vital part of the movies and a major player in their success. Like Wagner in his Ring, Williams has assigned themes, or leitmotifs, to each character, these being altered and intertwined with one another as the action and plot dictated.

One of the better new themes was that provided in the last film for the romance between Anakin and Padme. As Anakin begins to fall apart and cross over to the dark side, this theme is put through tortured changes worthy of Richard Strauss. The music for the inevitable duel between Anakin and his mentor, Obi-Wan, is dramatic and searing. But you’ll come away from this disc humming tunes from the earlier movies; Williams has used these extensively, presumably in an effort to bridge the gap between this film and A New Hope, the original movie that is now fourth in order.

In brief, Williams has not lost it. He has continued to provide his considerable best for Lucas and his dream. The recorded sound on this disc is the best ever for these soundtracks -- rich, full, and detailed. The big, bold cues will knock your socks off, yet the smallest instrumental whisper has perfect presence. Oddly, the end credits here are a bit different than the ones I heard in the theater, as the disc includes the "Throne Room" music from the first movie.

The set includes a DVD that provides an overview of the series in 16 miniature audio-video tone poems. The video quality approaches that in the regular Star Wars DVD releases, and the audio makes one wonder why all Dolby Digital tracks can’t sound this good.