Feb. 23, 2020
All the ending credits…
I put the final music of each film here for comparison, but in chronological order according the release dates.
If you listen – and don’t do it all at once because you’ll get lost in the similarities – you notice that in general he used much of the same music for each film, but with a twist. Because he had to craft the music for each film, Williams kept adding new Leitmotivs as new characters appeared, so in the each new film these new theme are sandwiched in between the beginning and ending. He usually starts out with the Main Theme, then works in the newer ideas. In general the music continued get longer in later movies because he had more themes to present and had to choose which of the old ones to include.
1. A New Hope – IV…
This where most of the really iconic themes started. It starts with the Throne Room Theme, then it goes right into the Main Theme, which contains the Rebel Theme. It is music everyone knows best, so it is likely that very few people in the US will not immediately recognize this. These two themes are in every movie from now on, often linked together. You might think of these as the primary hero themes. Next comes Leia’s Theme, and note that the winds keep chirping the Rebel Theme. More of the Main Theme. That’s all of it, and my memory always plays tricks because I remember there being more music. The ending is very weak. This is by no means the greatest ending music.
Without the throne room scene, which is the last thing before the credits, the ending music is a bit short, but with that added it expands to 12 minutes and is just right. The the final bars, which were a bit weak, have been replaced here with the ending from the third movie, only the last few seconds.
2. The Empire Strikes Back – V…
It starts with the Force Theme then with Han and Leia’s Theme, new to this film. Yoda is new in this movie, so the Yoda Theme appears next. Then the Imperial March/Darth Vader Theme follows, which for all of the other movies is synonymous with Vader, the dark side and evil. Next is Han and Leia’s Theme again, and finally Rebel Theme, which is actually always part of the Main Theme – really two themes, and of course the main part of the Main Theme. The ending is almost the same as the first movie, but the final chord is more dramatic, with tympani and a big crescendo.
The whole thing is around six and half minutes.The music is much better this time because more of the truly iconic themes or Leitmotivs are laid out.
3. Return of the Jedi – VI…
It starts with the Rebel Theme, as part of the Main theme as laid out in the first movie, followed by the rest of Main Theme. Then comes something totally new, the jaunty March of the Ewoks. , which is almost “silly Stars Wars music”, but it’s a great theme – and obviously Williams liked it enough to make it a huge part of this music. Now we hear the Luke and Leia Theme for the first time.. The very ending has some extra bars added, which is then retained for all the other movies.
The whole thing is close to seven minutes long.
4. The Phantom Menace – I…
There is a fair amount of “silly music”. Augie’s Municipal Band Theme is right before the credits, and some of the versions I’ve seen start with that cut, which I think is truly awful. Then it moves right into into the usual Main Theme , which always contains the. Rebel Theme. But then the Duel of the Fates Theme comes in, which is new music and takes up a lot of the music here. Then we hear Anakin’s Theme for the first time, and it ends quietly, with a romantic theme that in and of itself has menace at the end, because the ending is the Darth Vader Theme, just a touch of it in a very quite and subtle way. This for me is the weakest ending music of all the films. Williams obviously was attached to the dueling fates music, and that takes up a huge amount of the music. Anakin’s Theme is lovely, but that music becomes much more important in future films, when Anakin grows up.
The music is about nine and half minutes long, but almost one and a half minutes is the Augie music, which for me is 100% annoying. So really the music – and not the beginning noise – is around eight minutes long, and since the Duel of the Fates music goes on so long, it’s all a bit lopsided. This is far from the best music.
5. Attack of the Clones – II…
Immediately it starts with the original Main Theme of the whole franchise, but this time The Love Theme for Anakin and Padme follows and is the main theme, and it is very carefully developed in a complex arrangement. It ends very quietly. The music is more thoughtful because the movie itself is increasingly dark. I wish the music of this film had been combined with the music from the last film.
The whole thing is under six and a half minutes and is largely dominated by the whole story of Anakin and Padme. Once again you can hear that Williams is preoccupied with his new music, and this is a great theme as well as one of the favorites, but I would have preferred to hear more themes mixed in. It is the second of the prequel trilogy, and it seems that Williams gets stronger as he gets further into each trilogy. I do like the softer and more thoughtful ending.
6 Revenge of the Sith – III…
This time we hear Leia’s Theme, but it’s very different because it is very quiet, then the Force Theme, very quiet, played as usual by solo horn. It moves into the Main Theme, as in every movie. The Leia’s Theme comes back very much like it was in the very first movie. Now we hear a new theme, very much like the Duel of the Fates Theme, this time the Battle of the Heroes Theme. This is new, and in this new theme is the Force Theme, but distorted, and with the choral music it sounds a bit like the Duel of the Fates music. I actually think this theme is better.
Back to the original Throne Theme from the first movie, and I don’t recall that music being in even the first movie credits, so it’s a really nice touch.
Then it switches to the Force Theme, but this time it’s a march. More Throne Theme. Suddenly the Force Theme is back, this time slowly and with an oboe setting out the theme, and this is nicely developed with some complicated modulations. More, then more of the Throne Theme and back to the Main Theme which now alternates with the other to the end, complete with the tag from the third movie.
The ending music is now about twice as long, a bit over 13 minutes long, so it is the longest and most complicated so far. The the reason is the seriousness and complexity of this movie, and Williams was trying to link six movies together. At that time the final trilogy was not in sight.
7. The Force Awakens – VII
There is some lovely music, and it’s all beautifully crafted. This has absolutely grown and grown on me. At first all the music was new, and I was trying to figure out where it all came from. I listened to the whole soundtrack, and I don’t much like soundtracks because they are very commercial and filled with a bunch of filler crap that is used for background music, lots of chase scenes and short descriptive music that does not hold together well for pure listening. But this final music, which also could be called an orchestral suite for the movie, is pure gold.
It starts with The Jedi Steps, then the Force Theme using the iconic solo horn. This is from the very last scene of the movie, the very dramatic scene involving old Luke and Rey, with the Force Theme uniting the new with the old. The Main Theme returns, also linked to Luke from the very beginning, but now linked to Rey also.
Then comes Rey’s Theme, obviously for the first time because she is introduced in this movie. Then a very dark motiv that is for Kylo Ren, used many times in the this movie and all the others afterwards. The cut I’m linking to is called Kylo Ren’s Suite and seems to be from the next movie, but this motiv appears in this movie. Then music from the track Follow Me, which has a complicated mixed meter.
Now the The March of the Resistance appears, which is important in all of this last trilogy, so it’s very important. The Force Theme comes back, varied, and it’s mixed with The Jedi Steps. By the way, historically the French horn has been linked to very noble music and themes. Then The Rebel Fanfare Theme. It ends on a quiet, somber Bb major chord, with a slow statement of the Main Theme. So very different.
The ending music is now almost nine minutes long, shorter than the last one, but there is a lot of new music in this, so this is one of the best endings. In fact, Williams did more with this than with any of the other first films of a trilogy.
8. The Last Jedi – VIII
It starts with bell-sounds which are very similar to what is in Jedi Steps, then Main Theme enters, but very soft and distant, more bell sounds interrupted with threatening low strings here and there. Now The Force Theme enters, but this time woodwinds start the theme leading to the usual lush strings.
The Main Theme comes back with The Rebel Fanfare Theme, since these two are almost always related and intertwined. This music goes right back to the very first film. Nothing here is different except I believe the more modern recording is more spacious. Now the Rose Theme enters, since in this film and the last Rose became an important character. Back to Leia’s Theme again, but this time only in piano with soft winds very much in the background. I don’t believe that ever happened before. Now the Ahch-To Island Theme, which is a continuation of Jedi Steps from the last movie.
I found this theme on line labeled Luke in Exile 1 “Sarabande” Luke in Exile 2 ,”Fanfare”. These introduce two themes that are really more like Motivs that are used again and again. The chords are related to Rey’s Theme. Next the The March of the Resistance follows, but it’s developed so it’s harder to recognize, with the Rose Theme is mixed into it.
Now comes the Yoda Theme. There is something else following that I can’t identify. The first notes are are something like A C B E, but it moves to many keys. I have not found it yet.
Now more of the The Rebel Fanfare Theme, then Rey’s Theme again but distorted. Back to the The Rebel Fanfare Theme, then Rey’s Theme once more, with very high, lyrical strings and ending finally with parallel major and minor chords coming from that theme, very soft and gentle.
The whole thing is around eight and a half minutes long, not the longest ending, but the music is more complex and varied than any of the ending music to the other films. It is not as easy to hum, but I think it is one of the two best musical endings, very satisfying, very varied, complicated, sophisticated.
9 Rise of Skywalker – IX
This time back to basics. First the The Force Theme with the iconic horn solo, then the Main Theme with The Rebel Fanfare Theme mixed in. Then We Go Together then The Anthem of Evil, then The rise of Skywalker , then the Imperial March/Darth Vader Theme followed by Rey’s Theme. Now The Rise of Skywalker Theme, then the Main Theme.