Some Highlights from “The Music of Rogue One” Panel at SWCO17 (aka the panel that blew my mind)
So since I can’t find any filmed version of the “Music of Rogue One” panel with David W. Collins I’ll post some of the highlights here. I’m a music theory nerd myself but I was surrounded by people who have never paid attention to music analysis and were still moved to tears so I encourage everyone to check this out (and watch the panel please if it’s ever made available.)
the Panel began with Collins discussing the legacy of John Williams and the Star Wars main theme specifically. He discussed how it was originally meant to be Luke Skywalker’s theme, and how that interpretation can still hold true considering Star Wars is the Skywalker Saga
The coolest thing pointed out re the main theme is thatit’s musical construction mirrors the structure of the Hero’s Journey, the monomyth structure that all of Star Wars revolves around. It rises suddenly with the call to adventure, then builds with the journey, drops during the abyss, is reborn with another musical rise, then returns to the beginning. Collins emphasized that Williams is without a doubt a musical genius and that Michael Giacchino had a big challenge in making a score that lived up to William’s legacy while standing on it’s own. This was a challenge he more than met, as this panel made clear.
Now moving on to Rogue One, Collin’s discussed the title theme “Hope.” This theme is clearly heard over the title of the film, during Jyn’s big speech to the Rebellion, and throughout the film.
Collins pointed out that, like the main Star Wars theme, “Hope” echos the structure of the film itself. There are heroic major key moments in the theme, but it ends in a melancholy way that almost sounds unfinished. It represents the sacrifice at the center of the film. This is a story of incredible heroism that merely paves the way for others to finish the journey.
Collins moved on to discuss the musical themes for each character in Rogue One, with a lot of focus on Jyn’s theme. Jyn’s theme is the most frequently heard piece along with “Hope” in the film. In fact, we hear it three times in the film’s prologue alone.
The fascinating thing Collins pointed out is Giacchino’s use of Dies Iraethroughout the score. Dies Irae, or Day of Wrath, is the medieval hym describing the end of the world. It is sung during funeral masses and musically is quoted widely to represent death
EVERY CHARACTER THEME IN ROGUE ONE IS STRUCTURED AROUND DIES IRAE. Jyn, Chirrut, Baze, even Krennic, ALL OF THEM
Giacchino was signaling from the beginning that this is a story about death. He wrote the sacrifice of these characters right into their themes.
A notable use of Dies Irae beyond character themes is it’s repetition as Cassian and Jyn begin to climb the tower in the archive during the climax. The first two notes of Dies Irae are repeated as they do so. When Krennic walks down the hallway with his Death Troopers, all three notes play (death literally chasing them). And when Jyn almost drops, than catches the data tapes, Dies Irae is replaced by “Hope”
Jyn’s theme in particular is a melancholy theme centered on Dies Irae, but with a lovely, lullaby like feeling. It tells you from the beginning that Jyn’s is a story of hope and inspiration but also death and sacrifice.
An interesting use of Jyn’s theme and “Hope” together is during Jyn’s speech to the Rebellion. First we here “Hope” swell as Jyn speaks to the Rebels. Then when her speech is shot down, the theme drops, replaced by Jyn’s theme. This represents that it is Jyn herself who inspires the sacrifice that will eventually bring on the Hope. Jyn is the hope.
Another mind blowing moment was a musical parallel that Collins pointed out with the character of Bodhi Rook. In the scene where he recalls his mission, repeating “I’m the pilot, I brought the message,” listen for the flutes. That exact same flute theme plays in A New Hope when Luke discovers Leia’s message hidden in R2. By doing this,
Giacchino is directly mapping the journey of “the message.” Bodhi receives the message of the Death Star and how it can be destroyed from Galen, he brings it to Jyn, who with Rogue One, transmit the message, which ends up in the hands of Leia, then to R2, then to Luke, who must return it to the Rebellion. Those flutes represent the origin of the message with Bodhi through to A New Hope.
This panel was full of mind blowing moments, but the most mind blowing moment by far was another musical connection to A New Hope. After we had become very familiar with Jyn’s theme over the course of the panel, Collin’s played a scene from A New Hope for us. It was the moment when Obi-Wan asks Luke to come with him to Alderaan and Luke resists. When Obi-Wan says he’s getting too old for this sort of thing, Jyn’s theme plays clearly under Luke’s hesitation. In the original context, a hint of Dies Irae was WIlliam’s way of foreshadowing Obi-Wan’s death, butafter Giacchino used that musical queue to build Jyn’s theme, it suddenly has deeper meaning. It’s Jyn’s sacrifice calling to Luke, compelling him to be the hope she fought for. And it is connecting Obi-Wan’s eventual sacrifice with that of Jyn and her comrades.
Collins also highlighted how Giacchino’s score for the final moments of the film, from Jyn’s confrontation with Krennic through the arrival of Vader and the death of Jyn and Cassian, is unconventional and incredibly effective. Jyn’s confrontation with Krennic is silent, no music, unexpected for such a key moment. Only when Cassian appears does the music return. And throughout the final sequence, as we witness horrifying destruction, death. the arrival of the Death Star and Vader’s Star Destroyer, the score stays distant, gentle, melancholy. It does not highlight the horror. It steps back and mourns over it, like the eyes of history or the Force itself, honoring the sacrifice.
So yeah Giacchino’s score for Rogue One is brilliant, Williams’ music for Star Wars is brilliant, this panel was brilliant, and I can never get enough of analyzing Star Wars scores.
“Finn could not simply be a sidekick or key ally in the story; he needed a story arc of his own. For the first time, The Force Awakens offered a Star Wars film in which two characters, not only one, are undertaking the Hero’s Journey.”
“Each of these archetypes appears in the Hero’s Journeys of Rey and Finn – but not always in the same way or with the same character in the respective storylines. This makes The Force Awakens an interesting study in the use of archetypes.The Hero, of course, is the central protagonist of the journey. In Rey’s adventure, she is the Hero; in Finn’s adventure, he bears that mantle and Rey fills a different archetype.”
This appeared in the official Star Wars magazine and I can sleep well tonight and my smug smile is so broad, I might still have it when I wake up…
A few weeks ago you told me you feel as if you’ve lost your luck.
I thought to myself how ironic it was that someone I once called “lucky star” could lose their luck after I lost my feelings for them.
Today I realised that I have also lost something else these past few months. I lost my muse (and my muse was always you).
We can tell you that Burnham is fully human (not half-Vulcan as some
have speculated) and is the first human to attend the Vulcan Learning
Center as a child and then the Vulcan Science Academy as a young woman.
She has a close relationship with Sarek (James Frain), the father of
“I have the Vulcan conflict in my life from Sarek and Amanda so there’s
always going to be that inner conflict with me. But I think it’s
relatable because we all have some kind of inner conflict going on — who
we are versus who we present ourselves to be. There’s a lot to be discovered.”
My husband finished his “Mythos” Obi-Wan costume last week! Our friends helped with the robe and tunic and he 3D modeled, printed, and fabricated everything on the backpack. It is inspired by the Sideshow Collectibles Mythos Ben Kenobi statue. If anyone is going to Star Wars Celebration in Orlando this year, we will see you there!
I have loved you for a thousand decades, and I’ll love you for infinite years to come.
The hope of holding you again gets me through the loveless lifetimes where pain, heartache, and rebirth steal my memories of you.
Always coming back to the faith that love conquers time and space.
You, my love, are the moon and I the starry skies. We will always find each other across the divide.