Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones is composer/conductor John Williams’ fifth score for the Star Wars saga. As in the previous four soundtracks, Williams melds new musical material with familiar themes and once again comes up with a wonderful symphonic score. As I listen to the soundtrack from “Attack of the Clones,” different scenes from the movie come flashing through my mind. From the “Star Wars Main Title,” with its disappearing logo and title crawl to “Confrontation with Count Dooku and Finale,” this album held me breathlessly captive as I followed Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Padme through the many perils and tribulations they go through on their rendezvous with destiny. And just as Lucas’ visuals take the viewer from the tall skycrapers of Coruscant to the rolling meadows of Naboo and into the unfriendly arena on Geonosis, Williams’ themes help the listener recall these images through the emotional context of the music. Along with the visuals and the storyline, Williams’ music is evolving “towards” the existing Classic Trilogy’s thematic contact even as new action cues add freshness and avoid the “been-there, done-that” staleness that kills movie sequels and their scores. Of particular note among the action cues is the combined “Zam the Assasin and The Chase Through Coruscant,” a percussion-heavy composition that accompanies scenes with the Clawdite bounty hunter Zam Wessel and her frantic efforts to escape from Obi-Wan and Anakin through Coruscant’s planetwide cityscape. It is fast-paced and relentless, alternating between purpose and desperation as the chase unfolds.
Just as The Imperial March (Darth Vader’s Theme) dominated Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back’s score to reflect the true driving force of the second Star Wars film, Across the Stars (Love Theme from Attack of the Clones) is the true heart-and-soul of Williams’ music for Episode II. In this album we hear the concert arrangement, “Across the Stars,” in its entirety: it is, like its close counterpart Han Solo and the Princess, a romantic theme that evokes the growing affection between the former Queen of Naboo and the rebellious young Jedi Padawan. Its main melody is full of yearning and passion, yet there is a hint of darkness to it at times. For Williams knows, as we do, that Anakin Skywalker is destined to fall to the dark side of the Force… The love theme appears in other tracks, notably in “The Meadow Picnic,” “Anakin and Padme,” “Love Pledge and The Arena,” and, in a Star Wars tradition, as part of the end credit music in “Confrontation with Count Dooku and Finale.” Themes from the entire Star Wars saga are heard throughout the various cues. The classic Star Wars theme is, of course, heard at the start of Main Title, then reprised with the Rebel Fanfare (another Star Wars tradition) for the end credits.
The famous “Duel of the Fates” vocal makes a cameo in “Return to Tatooine,” Yoda’s Theme from The Empire Strikes Back is heard in “Yoda and the Younglings,” while the iconic Imperial March (which made little coy appearances in Episode I as part of “Anakin’s Theme”) is featured prominently toward the end of track 13. As usual, the Force theme (also known as Ben’s Theme in the original Star Wars soundtrack from 1977) serves as a unifying theme, marking transitions in Anakin’s journey to his destiny. Heard alone or in conjuction with the other four Star Wars scores, this CD is worth adding it to your library of movie soundtracks, or, if you simply love music, the enjoyment of listening to compositions by the great John Williams.