What's a Star Wars blockbuster without the input of John Williams? The veteran composer has been the beating heart and soul of the saga ever since it began back with 1977's A New Hope, and he's back on rip-roaring form with his spectacular score for new film, The Last Jedi. We've rounded up seven of Williams' tracks from the movie, ones that distill the Star Wars experience in musical form.
WARNING: LAST JEDI SPOILERS AHEAD
1. Main Title and Escape
Few film scores are as ingrained onto the memory as Williams' brassy opening title bars. It's a joy to welcome them back at the onset of The Last Jedi, and as the opening scroll peels away we're then plunged in one of several fast and furious action tracks. The score finds Williams at a compositional crossroads, interweaving the themes from Episodes IV, V, VI and VII with new pieces introduced for this eighth episode. The introductory 'Escape' cue acts as our introduction, interweaving the themes for the resistance, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), Leia (Carrie Fisher) and more all around each other at a phenomenal speed.
2. Ahch-To Island
Following a reprise of the anticipatory 'Jedi Steps' theme from the end of The Force Awakens, Williams introduces yet another wondrous piece for the fractious, burgeoning partnership between anguished Jedi legend Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and his wide-eyed, hopeful apprentice Rey (Daisy Ridley). The composer develops this particular theme to increasingly elegiac lengths during the course of the movie's Ahch-To sequences, anticipating Rey's transformation into fully-fledged Jedi knight.
3. Fun with Finn and Rose
Williams' principal new theme is that for resistance fighter Rose, who teams up with Finn (John Boyega) on a mission that takes them to decadent casino city, Canto Bight. Her theme, full of gentle hope and optimism, is introduced in fragments initially, only rearing its head when Rose touches the pendant of her deceased sister (who, at the start of the movie, drops the bombs on the First Order's Dreadnaught ship). However, come the end, it's transitioned into a fully-formed piece of heroism on a par with Rey's theme.
4. Canto Bight
The aforementioned city gets treated to its own 21st century update of the classic 'Cantina Band' music as a whole host of steel drums, saxophones and jazz trumpets immerse us in Bight's murky criminal underworld. We've been waiting years for Williams to rekindle this particular style, and it makes for one of the film's – and soundtrack's – most delightful surprises.
5. A New Alliance
We can imagine your shock when, midway through The Last Jedi, villainous Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) is brutally killed by his apprentice, Kylo Ren. Reinforcing both Ren's anguished internal dynamic and his increasingly complex relationship with Rey, who believes there is still good within him, Williams' score hits new heights of intricacy.
Interweaving the brutal trombone statements of Ren's theme around the increasingly empowered theme for Rey, Williams connects the two characters together in a dance of destiny, the fate of the galaxy hanging in the balance as Ren attempts to ensnare Rey in his power-hungry scheme for domination.
6. The Battle of Crait
This is where Williams starts to bring it all together, unleashing the full force of the symphony orchestra as Ren's forces lead the final assault on the few remaining resistance fighters. The gargantuan scale of the Crait battle, one that plays out against the salt-strewn backdrops of the desolate planet, allows Williams to let rip with the themes for the resistance, Ren, Rey and the Main Title theme (unleashed when the Millennium Falcon, piloted by Rey, comes soaring back into the action).
He also brings back what many consider to be the best Star Wars piece of them all, 'Tie Fighter Attack', the piece emboldened with further layers of horns and timpani as Rey leads the enemy ships into the mines of Crait away from the rebels. Were you punching the air during this moment?
7. Peace and Purpose
The narrative of The Last Jedi hinges in part on the emotional awakening of Luke Skywalker, wracked with guilt by his involvement over Kylo Ren's betrayal, and who only learns to leave the Jedi past behind with the help of Yoda's (Frank Oz) Force ghost.
When Luke finally comes good in the closing stages, Force-projecting himself onto Crait and allowing the rebels to escape Kylo Ren, he also unleashes something else. He provides the 'spark' that the resistance so desparately needs, encouraging them to keep up their fight against the evil First Order whilst, on Ahch-To, he quietly dies, passing into the Force like those before him.
When Williams' deeply emotional score interweaves the pivotal Force theme with Luke and Leia's theme (last heard in Return of the Jedi), it's inspiring, beautiful and a powerful reminder of the rich Star Wars musical heritage, whilst also alluding to the continued future of the saga.