DC Trawler

Star Wars Without The Musical Score: A Childhood Ruined?

Derek Hunter Contributor
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I love the Star Wars movies. Yeah, I’m a nerd. What of it?

I’m not one of those people who think the prequels were awful and ruined everything. Sure, they’re not the best – the acting is wooden, the plot is muddled, and the timeline is completely screwed up. (How does Darth Vader not remember he built C3PO? How does R2D2 not remember anything when his memory wasn’t wiped? I could do on, but you get the idea.)

But I let all the problems, and there are a lot of them, slide because the overall story arc is entertaining, and being entertained is all I ask of from a movie.

I became hooked when I saw the first movie – A New Hope. As a kid, that was my heroin, George Lucas had me after that. He held me easily with The Empire Strikes Back. After that I was pot-committed to the point that I was willing to look past the stupidity of kids in stuffed animal costumes defeating Stormtroopers with rocks and sticks in Return Of The Jedi.

No point in reliving the prequels, I was in by that time and after each, my optimism was refilled by “Hope” and “Empire” to the point that the previous one was forgotten, aside from the characters. Then I came across a video that made me wonder.

The score of the Star Wars movies was written by John Williams, the Mozart of movies. The man can manipulate an audience with classical musical notes like no one else in the 20th century. Forget “11,” a John Williams score turns a movie up to “15.”

Williams is so good, in fact, that his score can make you forget what the movie’s 1 to 10 score would have been without him. Until you see it.

Remember the scene at the end of “A New Hope” where Luke and Han receive their medals for saving the rebellion and destroying the Death Star? (Why Chewbacca didn’t get one I’ll never know, but I suspect speciesism.) You probably remember the grandeur of the scene – all the rebels standing at attention in a huge hall, the princess looking good, and the heroes all cleaned up. But what you really remember, what takes it from being a really awkward, superfluous and stupid scene is the John Williams score.

Don’t believe me? Watch it without the music.


Watching that scene without the musical score shocked me a bit. How weird was it. It’s not just that I’m used to it with music, it’s that without music it’s kinda dumb. The emotion is gone, why is no one talking, why doesn’t Lea say anything? What the hell is going on?

It’s a different scene.

So what happens to Star Wars if you remove all of the score? I shudder to think, but I suspect the problem with the throne room scene continues throughout the entire movie, and series.

I don’t want to see it without the music; my childhood couldn’t handle it. But it does make me think, and it makes me appreciate the brilliance of John Williams all the more.