Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace - The
Limited Edition, Ultimate Edition
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Audio CD, Limited Edition, Soundtrack, November 14, 2000
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Let no Star Wars fan go home disappointed-this 2-CD soundtrack set brings you every note John Williams composed for one of the most anticipated films in recent history, from the opening fanfare to the last end credit! All 68 tracks are in order as heard in the film, two bonus tracks (with sound effects and dialogue) are included and more than 60 photos grace the pages of the 60-page booklet. A collector's dream!
Obscured by the familiar grandeur of John Williams's score for Star Wars: Episode I, The Phantom Menace was the sheer volume of the composer's prodigious musical efforts. Not only did Williams expand on the original Star Wars trilogy's musical language with a whole new range of modern classical inspirations, but his efforts also produced more than two hours of seamless symphonic foundation for the galactic epic, enough wall-to-wall music to power three less ambitious films. This impressively packaged double-disc set offers Williams's complete Episode 1 score for the first time. It's a worthy tribute to the scoring legend's mastery of tone, dynamics, and nuance--a virtual musical tone poem that imparts much of the film's dramaturgy. Divorced from the bombastic visual assault of state-of-the-art digital effects, one is struck by the composition's emotional resonance. It's the small, quiet moments that give the story its subtle, crucial humanity; it's hard to imagine a film conceit so outlandish functioning without it. The Ultimate Edition includes a bonus track of the stirring choral centerpiece, "Duel of the Fates," with an overlaid dialogue montage, as well as a photo-rich booklet that illustrates each of the film's key scenes and musical cues. --Jerry McCulley
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The presentation of the soundtrack is great; each CD carries 30+ tracks detailing every scored aspect of the movie. Included is a photographic booklet attached to the CD case which carries pictures relevant to each track, so the listener has an idea what's going on the film as they listen to the score. The tracks are also presented in chronological order; this no doubt pleases many soundtrack collectors. 'The Droid Invasion' is a great piece using kettledrums, brass & strings to depict the war machinery of the Droid Army - forerunners of the Empire's Stormtroopers - moving across the Naboo plains. 'Enter Darth Maul' draws on themes from the previous trilogy, using low brass to depict Darth Sidious (who went on to become Emperor Palpatine) as he introduces his Sith apprentice, Darth Maul. 'Hail to the Winner', depicting young Anakin's triumph at the podracing, is a brilliant burst of trumpets, horns & drums which becomes almost fanfare-like as the track continues. 'Qui-Gon's Funeral' contains the melancholy choral music that would be heard in Episode 3 - as Anakin Skywalker fully becomes the Darth Vader we all know; the giant, menacing figure encased in black armor.
This is a very well presented soundtrack. Not a single cue is missed. Bravo for releasing this complete edition of the score!
It's regrettable that Lucasfilm never released more two disc albums for episodes 2 and 3 as they did for the originals. Whatever your feelings about episodes 1-3, no one can deny that the films had memorable music, courtesy of John Williams. One online poll on starwars.com even once ranked episode 1 as having the second best soundtrack after episode 5 (of course). But how can you argue with a piece like "Duel of the Fates"? I'll never forget the first time I heard it, it made me VERY excited for The Phantom Menace!
Well in 2000, Lucasfilm released "The Ultimate Edition Star Wars: The Phantom Menace Original Motion Picture Soundtrack", an extended album of every note of the score to the first chapter of the Star Wars saga. 68 tracks in all--35 on one CD, 33 on another. Each track for every scene of the movie that proves the genius of John Williams.
But to me what makes this score unique from the other episodes, before or since, is certain tracks that have an "otherworldly", exotic sound: there's track 18: "Street Band of Mos Espa", track 20: "Desert Winds" and track 35: "The Street SInger". My words alone could not describe the music but it definitely fits in with Tatooine's desert setting. TPM also marked the first time a choir was used, not once or twice, but THREE times. There was of course "Duel of the Fates" but there was also "The Funeral of Qui-Gon", both sung in Sanskit, an ancient Indian language that is the root of the myriad languages of India. The other one was the grand finale, "The Parade" a.k.a. "Augie's Municipal Band", which definitely makes me want to march in a parade.
Bottom line: despite using some familiar sounding tunes, Williams never recycles his scores over and over. He thinks up fresh tunes to grab the attention of audiences. Listen to this album and you'll agree.