You can always recognise a John Williams soundtrack. There’s always an Easter egg from another. Or just the sheer ferocity. Or the romantic tenderness. It’s hard to pin down a favourite piece by him, but this one stands out.
Subtitled Darth Vader’s theme, this is written for the main villain in the original trilogy, what he stands for, the terror that he strikes in the galaxy with his terrifying breathing, and the forces he leads. When the intro starts you feel it in your belly. The notes are low, dark, clashing, dirge like, and… pure evil in its sound…
This is from the second act of the original trilogy, and the film it’s named after is “The Empire Strikes Back” – Vader’s angry after his humiliating defeat in the first film, and now he’s back to get his revenge by any means necessary, and the presence of that anger is felt through this, though at 1:47 you can tell that there are moments of reflection and the key change shows the change of scene. The piece on its own tells a story, and you can compare this to Holst’s “The Planets” Mars Movement as according to legend was a big inspiration to George Lucas the creator of the Star Wars universe when thinking about the score for this. The chaotic outro at 2:38 is what nails it.
One day I’ll cover the Main Theme, and how that makes me feel but for now, I’ll say happy birthday John Williams.