Composed by John Williams
As the Star Wars franchise experienced a revival in the 90s, George Lucas decided to finally bring it back to the big screen. He chose to go back in time, to show how Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader and how the Galactic Empire rose to power. The Phantom Menace steps in when Obi-Wan is still a Jedi apprentice and Anakin is a ten-year old slave on Tatooine. Critics and fans alike initially gave the film a warm reception, but soon many began to realize it was a far cry from the original trilogy. Much of the blame for the new Star Wars’ creative failure was hoisted upon comic relief Jar Jar Binks. While the amphibious alien is a horribly obnoxious and unfunny character, the film’s flaws are much deeper than that with a load of underdeveloped characters and a central conflict that’s head scratching (namely how a business federation is able to get away with blockading and then occupying a planet within a democratic republic). Still praised was John Williams’ fourth Star Wars score.
By the late 90s Williams’ musical tone had changed, some may say matured. He engaged less in rousing blockbuster fare and when he did there were notable differences. His score for the Lost World: Jurassic Park was very dissonant and even his score for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade seemed restrained in relation to its predecessors. His score for Star Wars’ prequel trilogy is also notably different from the original. His score for Phantom Menace is the closest in tone to the original trilogy, with a considerable set of recurring themes and motifs. Even his album arrangement is heavily reminiscent of those for the original releases of A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back. The tracks are not chronological and cues from different parts of the film are edited together, though thankfully much more smoothly this time. Continue reading