The announcement of Disney’s $4 billion acquisition of Lucasfilm and its subsidiaries, along with the planned 2015 release of Star Wars Episode VII set the internet and media outlets a-buzz with rumors and speculation. From mainstream and entertainment news to fan sites and blogs about movies, comics, gaming, etc. speculation has been flying about who will write and direct Episode VII, and whether the story would be original, or adapted from the novels and comics that comprise the Star Wars expanded universe. Of course, the immediate discussion around Stanton’s Sheet Music was about the return of compositional Jedi Master John Williams.
His scores for the original trilogy and other films of that period are iconic, and a major reason the Star Wars movies are not just great, but epic. Although less prolific than in his heyday, his recent work includes Lincoln, War Horse, and The Adventures of Tintin , and he has remained active within the Star Wars franchise, providing original music for the 2011 TV movie Lego Star Wars: The Padawan Menace.
But what if John Williams were not to return? Williams himself admitted surprise upon returning to score the Prequel Trilogy some 20 years after the original’s debut. With whom else is The Force strong? Although there are plenty of great film composers out there, very few could replicate his strong thematic writing and storytelling capacity without sounding like, well, a clone, not to mention finding someone whose style is appropriate to both the genre and scope of the Star Wars universe.
Howard Shore prominently returns to the limelight beginning this December with the first release from Peter Jackson’s three-film adaptation of The Hobbit. This provides compositional consistency for Jackson’s adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien’s mythology. Shore is probably best-known for his fantastic scores for the world-building Lord of the Rings trilogy lending credibility to his potential to create soundscapes for unexplored worlds in the Star Wars universe in addition to scoring the colorful fantasy Hugo.
Alexandre Desplat is most widely known for the darkness and grim intensity of his scores for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Parts 1 & 2. In addition to being some of this author’s favorites from the series, his Harry Potter scores display a knack for properly underscoring the gravity of epic battle. His ability to write lighter material and strong storytelling are on display in The King’s Speech, with turns of fantasy via The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Golden Compass.
Alan Silvestri displayed a proven ability to score a Hollywood blockbuster with Marvel’s The Avengers, and could certainly capture the breadth and scope of Star Wars. His soundscapes and textures would be a good fit, he has the ability to compose a strong, memorable theme, see Captain America March from Captain America: The First Avenger, and his score for the modern Christmas classic, The Polar Express, is wonderful, as well.
Michael Giacchino appears to be the one with whom The Force is strongest, and is our pick should John Williams ever choose to pass the baton. His versatility is on wonderful display as one of Disney/Pixar’s “go-to” composers, he is familiar to TV audiences courtesy of Lost and Fringe, and his score to 2009’s Star Trek is motion picture perfect! He has the ability to bring both strong storytelling and a visual spectacle to life at the same time, and his writing is just enough like John Williams’ to not seem like a radical departure, but not so similar as to seem like musical plagiarism.
Who would be your choice to score future Star Wars films if John Williams were unavailable? Let us know in the comments below, and May The Force Be With You!