In the run up to Star Wars: The Last Jedi we look back to the first Jedi (narratively speaking) with a series of stories about the trilogy of prequels so beloved and never underestimated.
Darth Maul is one of the few elements in the preludes of George Lucas Star Wars to be admired almost universally. The rude Mr. Sith, red and black war paint that obscures his entire head, which is protected by a crown of dinosaur horns, girded with a wavy black cloak and armed with a double-bladed red lightsaber, cuts a terrifying figure from the moment it is presented in The Phantom Menace meditating together with the future Emperor Palpatine. He obtains one of the best lines of the film, delivered in the British baritone of Peter Serafinowicz: "At last we will reveal ourselves to the Jedi, at least we will have revenge".
Another element that (almost) nobody complains about is the music of John Williams, three epic scores added to his next eight-cycle space opera. The prequels are full of clbadic melodies now, including the innocent Anakin theme (with its hidden references to the march of Darth Vader), the theme of love bittersweet ("Across the Stars") for Anakin and Padme, and the epic coral showdown "Battle of the Heroes" by Revenge of the Sith . But the theme that came closest to achieving the invasion of pop culture that made "The Imperial March" in the previous cycle Star Wars was what Williams dubbed "Duel of the Fates".
You know the. While Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) drive a robbery to the occupied palace of Naboo, the giant doors of his hangar open to reveal to Maul all his demonic glory, his appearance announced by a Dark brbad fanfare pumps the opening notes of Williams' pagan hymn for orchestra and chorus. This Lutheran liturgical mbad accompanies the duel of light swords that ensue, driven by an undulating rope ostinato, with low winds, then French horns that pile gravity on the melody before it explodes into a stepped, almost frantic coral. But as the title of the theme indicates, it is much more than a simple sword fight.
Why this theme works so well and why it transcends the film for which it was written, speaks to the genius of the composer when writing worms melodies that feel like primal and eternal music that echoes from the beginning of time . He did it before with the theme of Luke, the theme of the Force, the Imperial March, the theme of Han and Leia, not to mention the hundred melodies that he has written for films that most people could hum from memory. The films Star Wars have given Williams an ideal canvas for these catchy and orchestral folk songs: Lucas's operatic series is openly larger than life, inspired by grandiose backgrounds in film, clbadical music and literature. The creator has often spoken of them as "silent movies" and gave Williams the keys for music to guide the story and, consequently, say his.
Darth Maul's duel provided a score showcase usually reserved for religious ceremony. The piece was "the result of my thinking that something ritualistic, and / or pagan and ancient could be very effective, and that the introduction of a chorus at a certain point in the film could be the right thing to do," Williams said in 1999. . He imagined that he needed a text, and he searched for one of his favorite books, The White Goddess by the English poet Robert Graves, of whom he had recently used parts of a very modern star, very not Warsian ] concert work called "The Five Sacred Trees."
"I remembered the great Celtic epic poem" The Battle of the Trees ", in which two fields of trees are animated by a Druid priest and become warriors," Williams said. "And they make the battle, and under the druid's command, the trees freeze again and turn into trees." And there is a verse in the poem, translated by Graves from the beginning of the Celtic into modern English, which is pretty much : "Under the root of the tongue, one fight is more fearsome, while another is furious in the head." And for no conscious, sensible reason, the idea of a fight, something furious and imagined in the head more than in any On the other hand, it seemed to be a good, mystical and cryptic enterprise. "
Williams had" some friends at Harvard, "translated that line into Celtic, as well as other ancient languages, and decided on Sanskrit for its exotic sounds and" beautiful. " "Basically what I did, in this case, is … I reduced the stanza, which was translated literally, and I used single words or syllables or combinations of these things – the words" feared fight "or this kind of thing – and the boards , repeated and melismatically, what it means to repeat syllables. (Everyone knows what is that choir & # 39; Hallelujah & # 39 ;, where you sing the word & # 39; Hallelujah & # 39; for 20 minutes, you know.) And gave an atmosphere, I think, to music that was both mysterious and ancient and dramatic, and I hope it's effective "
" Duel of the Fates ", played by a choir of 88 pieces and the whole weight of the London Symphony Orchestra, further raised the mercury of Nick Gillard, his fierce choreography and almost made you forget Jar Jar Binks bouncing Bantha poodoo out of his digital Gungan mouth. ( Almost because Lucas continued to cut the magnificent duel inside Theed's cavernous power generator for the Muppet Baby Anakin's exploits in space and Jar Jar's non-comic "comic relief" in the outer ground battle) . Taken on its own terms, the duel is one of the most important points of the prequels: skillfully visualize the master-apprentice relationship of Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan and reveal Maul as one of the most formidable villains in the universe Star Wars culminating in the still poignant death of Neeson's beloved Jedi. (Before even getting to the second act of this new trilogy, Lucas foolishly killed his best new characters.)
"I just felt the way George has staged that, the top of that great stage or staircase – I do not even know what to call it, the way it is done is so dramatic and, like a great pagan altar, you can imagine that everything looked like a dance, a ballet, a religious ceremony of some kind, "Williams explained in his book . wise, form of professor, "probably ending in the death of one of the combatants". A ballet on that, super real or unreal even – and that the middle of the choir and the orchestra would give us the feeling that we are in a great temple. The drama is the contrast and competition between good and evil. "
That's why the" Duel of the Fates "is so good, not only because it's infectious, but because it's so deep It certainly works as a piece of action action, but Williams really composed a The oratorio that captures the spiritual combat by the soul of Anakin Skywalker In fact, in 1999, Lucas imagined this piece repeating in a big way the climactic clash between Anakin and Obi-Wan in Revenge of the Sith . you noticed this, "Lucas told Williams at the Abbey Road recording booth at sessions Phantom Menace " but it really does go well into the third movie. … Definitely has the quality of inevitable fate destiny, you know, with the biggest hands at work. "(For some reason, when they came to Sith they decided to go with the related but new choral hymn," Battle of the Heroes. ")
" Duel of the Fates "survived its cheesy context. made directly from the doors, when he landed (in the form of a music video) on MTV Total Request Live the only "clbadic" piece to do so, where he stayed for 11 days. Broadcast of all songs by Williams Star Wars on Spotify YouTube is full of remixes and covers (from a cappella to small children on keyboards and heavy metal), and a video that travels the piece for ten hours in a row He has the honor of accompanying a parody duel in The Simpsons and has underlined countless duels in a variety of sports He speaks clearly to people, as do many of the subjects from the Williams movie, like music pu ra .