Monday, July 4, 2011
My Hero, John Williams
When Star Wars came out back in the Seventies, I saw it in the theater seven times. I was quite young, so I’m not sure how I got to go so often. This was before VCRs or Netflix or On Demand, so seven times was quite an accomplishment. We bought the soundtrack, I bought fan magazines with Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, or Harrison Ford on the cover, and I played with my action figures. I am still an ardent fan, and I cannot help pausing to watch if I catch one of the original three Star Wars movies on TV.
This Sunday was one of those days. Spike TV was having a Star Wars movie marathon, so I watched The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and then The Empire Strikes Back one more time. (It was always my favorite.)
As a little kid, I was impressed by the high-tech space age special effects, but I was most engrossed by the characters. I wanted to be Princess Leia and marry Mark Hamill. I wanted to ride on a ton-ton, have my own R2-D2, and have a Wookiee for a best friend. I watched these movies and learned about good vs. evil, and about the Force that connects us all.
But the thing that stayed with me the most is the music. Mom and I used to put our Empire Strikes Back album on the record player on weekend mornings. I’ll never forget the first time we listened, when we tried to identify what had happened in the movie during each section of the music. I remember sitting on the living room couch when Mom recognized a specific piece of music.
“Shannon!” she said, turning to me with wide eyes.
I watched Mom crank up the volume. She continued, “this is the music for the Imperial Walkers!” She knew those tall things that walked across the snow-covered field to attack the rebel forces had really creeped me out during the movie.
Mom pointed out the window, toward the trees and road that led toward town. “Can’t you picture them?” The music continued its ominous melody, and Mom pretended to see them. “They’re coming toward the house right now!”
The music continued its creepiness, and I could so easily picture those Walkers on their slow heavy trek right toward us. I got chills down my spine. It was the first time I truly understood the power of music.
So now that I have John Williams’ great score running through my head, I’m going to go turn on the TV. I think that movie marathon might still be playing.