Music Monday: The Imperial March, by John Williams

I’m not sure if I watched the original trilogy in the correct order, but I tend to doubt it. I know that I fell in love with Luke in Return of the Jedi the second he glided up to Jabba’s palace in his mysterious robes and mind-tricked his way in with the tiniest of efforts. My dad taped Return for me off of TV, and I still remember the fateful day I finally wore that VHS out, after a good three or four years of weekly viewings. By that time, I’d watched all three movies multiple times. I’d grown a bit, and was obsessed with bits and pieces from all over the trilogy: Salacious Crumb’s beady little eyes and wrinkled snout, R2’s general badassery, Leia’s gold bikini, the rawness in Luke’s voice as he screams to shut down on the trash compactors on the detention level, the subtle comedy in Chewbacca’s resignation at Han’s churlish behavior, C3PO’s arms getting ripped off at every occasion, Han’s devotion to his friends (even when money and common sense are trying to talk him out of it), Yoda’s gentle wisdom and tiny house, that last precious moment where Anakin Skywalker’s helmet comes off to reveal the sad, sweet face of a man who threw his life away on the Dark Side.

The original trilogy molded me in some ways. I came to expect a certain amount of bravery from the men in my life, but like Leia, even more from myself. I learned that if I listened and sat still long enough, I could feel the Force, too. And I learned to use Star Wars as my ruler – if you liked it, you’d probably be worth getting to know, and if you didn’t, well…

Minimalist Star Wars poster by Drew Roberts. Click through to purchase on Etsy.

Minimalist Star Wars poster by Drew Roberts. Click through to purchase on Etsy.

Also, like Luke, I grew up in the middle of nowhere, and I hated it. Star Wars probably had a heavy hand in giving me the travel bug. I’ve honestly never dreamed of exploring new planets (short of nightmares of being sucked out into space), but I’ve definitely felt the pull to see all of this weird world, which can be quite alien enough, thanks. I remember having a Star Wars movie magic book when I was 8 or 9. It talked about makeup and costuming, and how the sets were made, and that was the first time that I really took the time to contemplate that they’d filmed the Tatooine scenes in a very real place on Earth – Tunisia. I’ve always wanted to see what’s left of that set; maybe one day.

But this post isn’t about how much I love the original trilogy (notice how I’m being really nice and not saying anything about how much the prequels suck the joy out of life?). It’s about how much I respect John Williams’ score. Particularly “The Imperial March”, which manages to contain what some might argue is the very essence of the trilogy in a 3 minute song. “The Imperial March”, as most of you know, is Darth Vader’s theme. It is the aural equivalent of everything Darth Vader’s physical presence hints at – darkness, violence, the unquestionable need for absolute obedience (and obeisance).

From now on, the song will also represent something else to me, something a tad bit less dark. Each year in March, my friends Angie and Glenn gather friends together to watch the original trilogy on VHS (the original releases, prior to Lucas’ sacrilegious little “fixes” like making Greedo shoot first). They call it the Imperial March party. Everyone wears homemade Star Wars-themed outfits (the rules are that it must cost $10 or less, so there’s lots of tin foil and duct tape involved), and all of the snacks are named after characters or places in the trilogy. It’s a ton of fun, and last year’s party was the first time I got to meet my boyfriend’s friends. This year’s party was even more special, though, because this year Angie and Glenn got engaged. I managed to take a couple of snapshots while Glenn was proposing to Angie (dressed as a very dashing Lando).

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