Tag Archives: Attack of the Clones

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)

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Up first (in terms of dates): 14 years ago today, Episode II: Attack of the Clones, launched into theaters and (correct me if I’m wrong) is considered the weakest film in the prequel trilogy, largely due to the clunky, unnatural, and at times downright awkward “romantic” moments between a teenaged Anakin Skywalker (now played by Hayden Christensen) and an adult Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman).

I was happily oblivious to all of these flaws when I saw this movie in the theater (I was only thirteen at the time, what did I know about good or bad dialogue? I was just excited to see Star Wars in the movie theater). But now that I’m older, I (somewhat reluctantly) have to agree that this isn’t the best entry in the series (Hayden Christensen’s acting isn’t THAT bad though).

Episode II takes place about ten years after Episode I and the extremely Force-strong boy from Tatooine has grown up into an exceptionally moody Padawan, still mentored by the ever-exasperated Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor). A state of civil war is brewing in the Republic, as the Separatist movement, led by Count Dooku (Christopher Lee), threatens the peace. The Jedi are oblivious to the fact that Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) is actually the Sith Lord Darth Sidious, and that he has been manipulating galactic events for years. Anakin has grown to view the chancellor as a trusted advisor, and is also struggling with his growing feelings for the now-Senator Amidala.

For all the movie’s flaws, how cool is it that Christopher Lee plays a former Jedi?? And how awesome is it that Yoda is revealed as a bad-ass fighter! (It’s CGI-ed to death but it’s still pretty cool I think).

The Clone Wars themselves are only mentioned twice in the original Star Wars film (Luke: “You fought in the Clone Wars?” and in the Leia recording: “…Years ago you served my father in the Clone Wars…”) but we really knew nothing else about them. Now this movie was allegedly going to show us what the Clone Wars were all about, which excited many. Unfortunately, while there are some pretty impressive moments (the revelation that the clones are the predecessors of Storm troopers comes to mind, along with the impressive-as-always lightsaber battles), the story is really bogged down by way too much CGI, a weird as heck romance subplot, and a shade too much politics.

Musically though, the film is great. John Williams returned once again to score the film and I firmly believe his music made the film better than it might have been otherwise. One of my favorite moments comes at the end of the film (right before the scene showing Anakin and Padme getting married in secret): the Jedi are watching the clone troopers arrive on Coruscant and Yoda sternly reminds them all that the fight is far from over because “begun, the Clone Wars have” and then, you hear IT, a clear refrain of the Imperial March (aka “Darth Vader’s theme”). Williams only used a clear rendition of that theme once in The Phantom Menace (when Yoda tells Obi-Wan “grave danger do I fear in his training”), but Anakin’s “good” theme was otherwise built on a rendition of the March placed in a major key (the original is in minor). Now though, as the clone ships land (clearly an early version of Star Destroyers), the camera pans over the assembled troopers and a loud rendition of the Imperial March plays, and there is no mistaking it. The Jedi don’t know it yet, but the final seeds have been sown for their annihilation.

(Incidentally, if anyone was curious: Yoda trained Dooku, Dooku trained Qui-Gon, Qui-Gon trained Obi-Wan and Obi-Wan trained Anakin).

Have a good day!

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Film Music 101: Empathetic Sound

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The term I’d like to discuss today is empathetic sound

Empathetic sound occurs when the music or sound effects in a film create a mood that matches the action taking place on the screen.

So an easy example of this would be in any love scene ever created for Hollywood. You’ve probably seen the set up at least a hundred times: the guy or the girl has just said something deeply meaningful; they turn and slowly look into each others eyes; and just as they lean in to kiss…the strings in the orchestra swell up and create this deeply romantic moment as they finally kiss and acknowledge their love! (Don’t believe me? Just go to Youtube and look up famous love scenes from movies, I dare you.)

From The Adventures of Robin Hood (1937)…
to Attack of the Clones (2002) and beyond…it’s always the same!
 
Another good example is action sequences. For the music to be empathetic, the music needs to be fast paced, frenetic, and truthfully rather choppy to match up to the action. The Marvel movies tend to have great examples of empathetic sound in their fight scenes (and also good examples of anempathetic sound, but that’s a post for another day). A really good example comes from Marvel’s The Avengers (2012).

Picture the scene during the battle in New York when all the Avengers are standing back to back in a circle and the camera pans around to look at each of them. The music is clearly projecting “hero mode” because the stars are basically in what i like to call their “heroic pose moment.”

All the heroes in one shot!

 

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See also:

Film Music 101: “Stinger” Chords

Film Music 101: Dubbing

Film Music 101: Diegetic vs. Non-Diegetic Music

Film Music 101: Underscore

Film Music 101: Sidelining

Film Music 101: “Test” Lyrics

Film Music 101: The First Film Score

Film Music 101: Borrowing

Film Music 101: Arranger

Film Music 101: Anempathetic sound

Film Music 101: Foley

Film Music 101: Montage

Film Music 101: Compilation Score

Film Music 101: Leitmotif

Film Music 101: Orchestration and cues