15 Years of AOTC: The Amazing Soundtrack

star_wars_episode_ii_attack_of_the_clones_28soundtrack29

I have to say John Williams recorded a strong bunch of soundtracks with the prequel trilogy, even while he was also composing for the Harry Potter films (at least the earlier ones) and other films.

AOTC was recorded January 2002 at Abbey Road with the London Symphony Orchestra and London Voices. The album was released on April 23, 2002 with four different CD covers (Anakin and Padmé, Yoda, Jango Fett, and the theatrical poster) and sold enough to earn gold status from the RIAA. The soundtrack was released on vinyl just last year! As pointed out before, only the Target exclusive CD had a bonus track “On The Conveyor Belt.”

Naturally the big knock ’em dead track is “Across The Stars,” one of Pandora’s most streamed Star Wars tracks. That is of course my favorite off of the soundtrack but I love all of it.

Here’s the video done for “Across The Stars,” similar to the “Duel of the Fates” video for TPM.

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15 Responses to “15 Years of AOTC: The Amazing Soundtrack”

  1. Jacobesico Says:

    Across The Stars has got to be my all time favourite soundtrack. John Williams pulled out all the stops for AOTC.

    I love the mysterious segments on Kamino. Brilliant stuff.

  2. Pedro Felipe Says:

    Amazing, I can’t get something out of my head though. We all know for a fact that there are tons of references in the soundtracks for all six movies and everything is meticulously planned, there are very subtle references that I as a Star Wars and Soundtrack geek only picked up after literally dozens of times watching the same movie and separately listening to the soundtracks. For example, Shimi’s theme when Anakin tells Obi Wan about his dreams in Padmé’s balcony or the theme that plays when Anakin enters the Lars Homestead pissed off and first talks to Owen and Beru and Cliegg tells him his mothers fate which is actually a rendition of a theme that plays when Darth Vader is pissed off over Tatooine choking Captain Antilles (I know, it’s hard to believe but I swear, if you have the soundtrack I can point out when that happens). Yet John Williams claims to never, ever saw any Star Wars movie at all and “very rarely” listens to recordings of his own music. How is that possible? From all the behind the scenes information the only conclusion I can think of is that George was “babysitting” Williams and working with him. That would also explain why TFA’s soundtrack was so poor. There were a few references, for example, Kylo Ren’s theme is not new, it occurred in The Phantom Menace. The EXACT same theme, note for note, plays when the Naboo Royal Starship lands on Tatooine, right after Qui Gon says: “Land near the outskirts, we don’t want to attract attention.”

    • joe Says:

      it’s a travesty that none of the scores for the prequels were nominated for oscars

      • Pedro Rabelo Says:

        Totally agree, but honestly the oscars lost their credibility with me it’s been some time.

    • Brian47 Says:

      What you hear in The Phantom Menace is not Kylo Ren’s theme. While they are both descending melodic lines, there are different pitches being played. I’ve taken enough muslc courses through college to know this, but also you should listen to the podcast Star Wars Oxygen, which covers the music of Star Wars in detail with a trained musician. This was actually a question from a listener and the host David Collins dispelled this fallacy.

      Also, Williams has stated many times that he doesn’t re-listen to his scores once he is done, it’s because he moves on to other projects but he does conduct selections in concert so he hears them there as well. Thing is, Williams is brilliant and it shouldn’t surprise you that he is an amazing for his own music – he composed it. Also, many fans like to ascribe meanings to musical connections when they aren’t intended at all, this is something Williams has mentioned himself. It’s doubtful that Williams pulled in melodic threads from the scene in ANH when Vader chokes Antilles into the scene you mentioned in AOTC. Williams isn’t trying to build a musical puzzle-box that needs decoding. If you hear similarities, it’s really due to his style, the harmonic and melodic intervals Williams often leans towards in his music.

      • Pedro Felipe Says:

        Well, intentionally or not, they’re extremely similar. And I am aware fans keep atributing things that many times are coincidental. That’s not what I am adressing at all. I am adressing unequivocal references, Shmis theme does play when Anakin talks about his dreams and later when he encounters his mother. How the hell John Williams put that reference if he didn’t even know who Shmi was, only watched The Phantom Menace from the pulpit probably without dialogue and unfinished special fx three years earlier and in the meantime scored other movies? If those references were accidental, it would be just as likely we got Harry Potter cues in The Star Wars Scores.

      • Pedro Felipe Says:

        Look, I really don’t think this is in Mike Klimo’s Ring Theory level of connecting the dots (with all due respect, his work is very nice but we gotta be careful not to assume something is intentional). All the instances I mentioned are very pronounced and I don’t think it’s reazonable to write them off as mere coincidences. Tell me, how can John Williams have written The Phantom Menace score with brilliant variations of The Emperor’s theme when the character appears, having written this piece more than 16 years earlier and never watched Return of The Jedi?

      • Pedro Felipe Says:

        And what about the instances of Yoda’s theme in Attack of The Clones, when Obi Wan visits Yoda in “Yoda and The Younglings” and the unreleased score of Yoda’s fight, which paraphrases it heavily?

      • Pedro Felipe Says:

        Not to mention the inumerous references of the scores to themselves later on. Honestly, I’ve always found the explanation of Star Wars Oxygen, that of John Williams as a “storyteller”, problematic. Now that he has flat out said he never saw the finished movies and rarely even listens to his compositions for Star Wars, I think it’s even more unlikely.

    • Brian47 Says:

      It was never my intention to state that Williams doesn’t thread references, subtle and overt, throughout all his Star Wars scores. Those incidents you mentioned of revisiting Shmi’s theme and Yoda’s theme are of course intentional, Williams knows his own thematic material inside and out and is brilliant in how he references them.

      All I was stating was that Kylo Ren’s theme in TFA is in fact not an exact match for that brief descending set of brass pitches from TPM, that’s it. They sound similar to untrained ear but if you try to match up these pitches they are not the same.

      Lastly, I’ve been studying film music – reading, writing about it, interviewing composers – for 30+ years. It’s not uncommon at all for a composer to not rewatch a film tehy scored or even listen to their own music once they finish a project. Many don’t like to look backwards, they would rather look ahead. Someone like Williams doesn’t need to rewatch or relisten – he composed the music, he knows it. Williams has also stated in interviews before that he rarely even watches any movies at all these days, it’s just not how he wishes to spend his spare time, so it’s not surprising at all that he doesn’t go back and rewatch the SW saga.

  3. Stefan Kraft Says:

    I bought the EP2 on Amazon back then. It was the one with the Jango cover: the “special cover” versions were 1 € cheaper than the ones with the film poster, so… 🙂
    Interestingly, my soundtrack copy also had the bonus track. I’m not sure, but maybe all copies released in Germany / Europe had it?
    There was only one disadvantage: the EP 2 sountrack was the only CD I ever bought that had copy protection, i.e., it could not be played on CD-ROM drives (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copy_protection#Audio_CDs). However, a friend of mine had a drive not affected by this and ripped my copy. Finally, I downloaded the soundtrack at least 10 years (!) later from Amazon: they still remembered that I bought it back then, and a digital copy seems to be included on Amazon.

    • Pedro Felipe Says:

      Really? Your copy has the 14th Track On The Conveyer Belt? I am dying for that track, the Sony re-release doesn’t have it, but then they should just release the whole soundtrack of the six movies like they did for The Phantom Menace, every note of this masterpiece is Gold.

  4. LadyJediScientist (@LJediScientist) Says:

    I JUST ADORE THIS SCORE!!! Summer 2002, I debated about which of the four covers to buy. I finally decided to go with the poster art cover-can’t resist Struzan!

    Like everyone else, I would LOVE it if we could finally have an extended cut of the soundtrack available. I would love to hear the music cue from Anakin & Padme’s first kiss outside of the film!

  5. jonedney124 Says:

    My favourite track is the ending track. I love how it goes from the Imperial March to Across the Stars, saying even before ROTS how the rise of the Empire and Anakin and Padme’s romance are connected. Also love the Flying through Coruscant motif, as it pops up in the video games. I also wish they would do an Ultimate Edition like they did with Phantom, I would particularly love the actual version of Anakin’s confession scene, most of the YouTube versions just use other versions of the Emperor’s theme. It is so much better to have the complete scores as you hear them in the film rather than tracks sometimes spliced together from two different points or aspects of the film as the OSTs for Phantom and Clones are, as well as some other Williams OST albums. There are complete releases for I and IV-VI (and maybe VIII, can’t say I’ve noticed if the OST is complete or not, that is more chronological though). The score for VII is growing on me, the I-VI scores had a head start from the movies and the video games to be fair.

    I read an interesting article somewhere saying that the scoring process for Last Jedi started later as Rian Johnson wanted to edit to the score, which sounds promising to me. That famously happened with Close Encounters and E.T. and the original saga films certainly feel like they are edited to the music, even if they weren’t. The score and image are so effortlessly intertwined, it was that rhythm that I think was missing from Force Awakens.

    Has anyone else seen about the Star Wars in Concert series they are doing in America? They are doing the films with a live score, as they have done with a lot of other films like Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, E.T., Pirates of the Caribbean. I’m just surprised it took them this long to do it. However, guess which films they are doing……and which films THEY ARE NOT DOING?!?!?!

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