Written by Richie Pepio
During the 124 days before the release of The Last Jedi, I’m reviewing all 124 minutes of the theatrical version of
The Empire Strikes Back. Join me and together we will watch Star Wars…
This is the way the movie ends. This is the way the movie ends. This is the way the movie ends. Not with a bang but with a sweeping view of spaceships.
Before The Force Awakens, it was the only dynamic shot to ever close a Star War. All the other films end on a static view of the main characters or their kin. It seems that originally, the aim was to match the ending of the first movie but my bet is Kershner pushed for it.
While we scroll through the next minute of credits, let’s go over…
“The Definitive Ranking of Star Wars End Credits!”
When ranking these end credits sequences from best to worst, there’s a lot to consider. Do the scenes leading up to these credits earn the amount of respect that the sequence is giving? Is the moment an engaging capper to the events before? How does the music hold up? I posted this when closing out my minute-by-minute reviews of A New Hope just before The Force Awakens came out. Now we’ll see where TFA lands.
7. The Phantom Menace - “Augie’s Great Municipal Band” is a fun, festive version of “The Emperor’s Theme,” and this ending mirrors A New Hope’s. There’s a celebration, characters are receiving a reward from royalty, and the surviving cast members face the camera in the last shot. Although the triumphant Star Wars theme blares when “Written and Directed by George Lucas” flashes on the screen, it plays for a short spurt before giving way to “Duel of the Fates.” Thankfully, the Darth Maul-inspired “Duel of the Fates” is badass. Points are removed from this sequence because it has the least impact on the plot of Star Wars compared to any other movie in the franchise.
6. Attack of the Clones - We get a great visual of Palpatine’s inner circle watching a massive clone army assemble and ship off to battle. Extra points to Sitherin House for using “The Imperial March” after such a long hiatus. The love theme from Attack of the Clones, “Across the Stars,” is great too - it’s just unfortunate the wedding itself feels somewhat unearned.
5. Revenge of the Sith - A decent collection of moments filling in the last few blanks before A New Hope begins. The last track of every Star Wars soundtrack (and the last moment, for that matter) begins with some variation on “The Force Theme” (what you hear during the binary sunset) and then transitions into the main theme of the movie. If the Star Wars movie has multiple themes to chose from, it picks the most upbeat, hopeful one. Of the six Star Wars films under George Lucas’ watch, all use “The Force Theme” to transition into another motif, except for Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. ROTS only uses “The Force Theme” before irising into the credits. It makes this movie feel final (since it was thought to be the last Star Wars at the time of its release), but I think it would be more appropriate and in tune with the rest of the franchise if “The Force Theme” transitioned into something else before the end credits started. Personally, I’m a big fan of “Luke and Leia” from Return of the Jedi. I think that song is underused in ROTJ, and it would have brought the franchise full circle had they used it here.
4. Return of the Jedi - The teddy bear picnic at least has a great party mix going. “Yub Nub” makes us want to “celebrate the love.” I’ll be honest, I also love the replacement song John Williams wrote for the 1997 Special Editions. It’s more in tune with the ending of Jedi and feels appropriate for the tragedies our heroes have had to endure to get here - bittersweet, wistful, and hopeful at the same time. As for the themes used in the end credits musical track, “The Ewok March” is fitting for those creatures but “Luke and Leia” captures those two characters perfectly, it hits all the literal notes you could wish for.
3. The Force Awakens - The helicopter shot feels a tad bit out of place; it’s less “feel the Force flow through you” and more “the hills are alive.” But the music is emotional and Daisy Ridley is the perfect surrogate for our anticipation as we all see Luke Skywalker for the first time. The troubled look on his face gives us more questions than answers, and that’s exactly what we want for this first installment in a trilogy. Despite all the uncertainty of what the future holds, John Williams’ majestic score is an exclamation point. And who knew an actual location could be more impactful than greenscreen?
2. A New Hope - The original Star Wars doesn’t have a wide variety of repeated themes for the individual characters and it doesn’t have to. There’s the main march, a song for the Force, a theme for Princess Leia, a repeated motif for the Empire, and then incidental music throughout. It’s a fantastic score that feels like one big movement, rather than separate pieces - a musical experience totally deserving of its spot as one of the greatest film scores of all time. This doesn’t exactly have a slower “Force Theme” during it because a more heroic, marching version is played as the main characters receive their medals.
1. The Empire Strikes Back - This takes top spot because, of all the films, there’s the widest variety of themes present here. All of them are so different from each other but each musical movement perfectly matches the emotions and energy onscreen. You can’t beat Empire - and this scene opens with “The Force Theme,” moves into the love theme of “Han and Leia,” then goes into the end credits with the main Star Wars march followed by “Yoda’s Theme,” then “The Imperial March,” and back into “Han and Leia” before the big finish. Also, it’s the only film to not end on a static shot of the main cast. Instead we pull away to see the entire Rebel fleet, in a grand gesture that sweeps us up into the end credits.
Rating: 6.9 out of 7 endings.
This was originally posted on Mindctrlaltdel.tumblr.com