Star Wars (Soundtrack)
20th Century 541
Released: June 1977
Chart Peak: #2
Weeks Charted: 53
Certified Platinum: 8/17/77
The movie Star Wars has met with such universal critical acclaim (and of course got the obligatory pan from the iconoclastic-at-any-cost Village Voice) that it's almost embarrassing to a film snob like me. After all, I put off seeing Rocky for months simply because I was sick and tired of people bugging me about it at parties. But now here I am, following Marvel's comic-book adaptation, clutching the paperback novelization to my bosom, wearing a "May the Force Be with You" button unashamedly, and discussing the film at tedious length with anyone dumb enough to mention it within fifteen feet of me.
But can I help it if it's great? Blame George Lucas, who dreamed it up, for creating a Genuine Epic out of the clichés of forty years of B movies, the shreds and tatters of our collective childhood memories. Just don't be fooled into thinking that Star Wars is merely a sci-fi flick (if it is, then Moby Dick is merely a fish story) or that it is nothing more than an Entertainment, even in the Graham Greene sense; Lucas' achievement is much greater than that. It takes something verging on genius to meld the look, the feel, the grammar of Erroll Flynn swashbucklers, Laurel & Hardy, every western and war movie ever made, The Wizard of Oz, Fritz Lang, cheapo Universal serials like Flash Gordon, and the propaganda films of Leni Riefenstahl into a cohesive, original whole that manages to be totally outrageous and totally straight-faced at the same time. And the oddest thing of all is that the outer-space milieu of Star Wars is just as sharply observed, in its own way, as was the early-Sixties California Lucas evoked for his American Graffiti; that he had to make this one up only heightens my astonishment at the creative performance of his vision.
The soundtrack -- both records of it -- is, in short, enormous fun, improved no doubt by the resequencing and editing Williams did especially for the album, and both the sound and the quality of the orchestral playing (the LSO is not your average Hollywood pick-up outfit) are really quite breathtaking. If, like me, you're waiting impatiently for a chance to catch Star Wars again but can't bear to wait in line for hours, you'll definitely want this aural reminder of the delights of the most brilliant American commercial film since The Godfather Part II. But let me warn you: don't play it at parties, no matter how carried away you get. There are a lot of people out there who have absolutely no sense of humor.
- Steve Simels, Stereo Review, 9/77.
Why is this one of the greatest soundtracks ever? (1) Because it's only the best-known film music of the last 25 years. (2) Because the orchestral swell when Luke looks out at the twin Tatooine suns gets us every time. (3) Because it uses Wagnerian leitmotifs. Seriously. Look it up. (4) Because we have friends who played the "Throne Room" passage at their weddings. (5) Because Bill Murray once sang it.
- Entertainment Weekly, 2001.
A long time ago in a galaxy [not so] far away, John Williams returned us to a symphonic movie score, and we are grateful. The groundbreaking, heart-pumping soundtrack to George Lucas' opus has been enormously influential, introducing science-fiction cinema to a classical romanticism that conveys the largeness of space and delivering a main title that has become part of the lexicon of our culture -- the force is with it indeed. * * * * *
- Zagat Survey Music Guide - 1,000 Top Albums of All Time, 2003.
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