Friday Film (32)

Nothing particularly deep or extended this Friday; but, all the same, something that I’m glad to have an excuse to post.

And, as is not seldom the case on this blog, my excuse is chronological in nature: yes, something happened 40 years ago this week — and it may even be that the following photograph provides a clue about what it was…

Just in case anyone hasn’t worked it out yet (and, let’s face it, there are always a few ‘Liberal Democrat’ voters reading…), it was 40 years ago yesterday — on Wednesday, 25 May 1977 — that George Lucas’s massively successful Star Wars was first released.

And, like many millions of other kids around the world, I went to the cinema to see it, and was duly excited and impressed. (In my own case, this actually happened some time early in 1978, as the film took literally seven months to get to the UK.)

I must say, though, that — unlike lots of the kids I knew from school — I was never so ‘bowled over’ by the film’s story or ‘special effects’ that I bought and swapped magazines and posters, or sat around at break time talking about the characters and the fantasy universe they all inhabited. In fact, there were always a few things that I didn’t much like about the film — and, once I’d seen it, a couple more things that I thought were pretty seriously botched. What truly amazed me — and it really did knock me flat! — was the music.

In fact, it was the impact of the Star Wars score that led me to go to John Menzies in Liscard one afternoon and buy that ‘Geoff Love  and His Orchestra’ cassette of ‘Star Wars and Other Space Themes’ that I have talked about before. And — as I’ve also said before! — I am very glad I did.

Thanks, Geoff!

Not least on account of the fact that, besides a performance of the famous ‘Star Wars Main Title’ that differed from the ‘usual’ one in revealing and instructive respects (remember that most of my earliest education about orchestration, arrangement and composition I derived from Geoff Love records…), the cassette also contained an item that didn’t correspond to any extended stretch in the movie…

The track happens to be findable online; and I want to include it here. Before we get to it, though, let me point out that this old cassette (which I’m sure I still have in a crate somewhere…) didn’t only teach me worthwhile things about music, but — by way of its cover illustration — also provided a useful lesson on the nature of corporate property rights. See how the ‘trademarked’ logo-title of Star Wars can only be hinted at in a form that departs from the original in three different ways? (The font is different; the words are now shown as if with a forward tilt; and all the letters are kept separate, as the ‘running together’ in the first and last pairs cannot be copied…). See also how the art-work’s two central characters — who obviously need to suggest main characters from the film! — cannot in their looks, dress or equipment have even the remotest resemblance to actual characters from the film? (And, while you’re at it, do you see how a representation of the ‘USS Enterprise’ from Star Trek can only appear in a form that departs from the original in three different ways? And jolly silly it looks, too…)

Anyway, here’s the piece that so absorbed and educated me, back in 1978…

You know, having pondered and planned this posting in my usual Friday-evening traffic jam, I can see that some of my accumulated thoughts about Star Wars and John Williams’s contribution to it would nicely fill a series of four or five postings. I might even reveal some of the things that Mr Williams said to me when we talked for about an hour and a half in the restaurant of a mega-expensive London hotel back in January 2002…

In the meantime, though, let me leave everyone with a very vivid demonstration of just how important is the contribution made by Williams’s score in at least one of the scenes in Star Wars.

All you have to do is watch the two different clips…


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