In 1977 George Lucas’s Star Wars was released; since it was a futuristic film Lucas wanted something viewers would find familiar. He had composer John Williams create a score that harkened back to the films of yesterday. That score, especially the main theme, is one of the most recognized themes today. In 2005, Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of The Sith was the last of the Star Wars movies and fans thought that would be the last Star Wars soundtrack. Little did they know that three years later in 2008 an animated film – Star Wars: The Clone Wars would be released as a lead-in to the upcoming television series.
Composer Kevin Kiner has the unenviable task of following Williams’ brilliant scores, but he does a good job. To start off The Clone Wars is a bit lighter than the previous Star Wars films, and more aimed at children so the soundtrack is a bit lighter. It’s a bit different than previous soundtracks in several ways. Past soundtracks have around two hours of music on 15 tracks. The Clone Wars soundtrack has 32 tracks with a total runtime of 67 minutes with the average track running around two minutes with several tracks running four minutes because it’s a key moment in the film.
The Clone Wars soundtrack starts off with a percussion version of the memorable theme and then delves into the film. The soundtrack belongs in the Star Wars Universe, and uses instruments never heard before in a Star Wars soundtrack. Kiner uses synthesizers, electric guitars, erhus, duduks, ouds, and taikos; all make their Star Wars debut here. There are some great tracks, my personal favorite is track five entitled “Obi-Wan To The Rescue” which uses rock guitar and I can imagine Obi-Wan taking on a platoon (or three) of Battle Droids.
The soundtrack has a jazz based tune for the nightclub track, which is somewhat reminiscent of some 40’s tracks and the cantina song from Episode IV. You might think such a piece would be out of place in a Star Wars soundtrack, but it works. What’s good about this soundtrack is it takes the familiar sounds of Star Wars and uses instruments like the rock guitar and synthesizers to create a new sound, but still familiar to the listener.
Kliner has mentioned that he’s recorded over 400 minutes for the Clone Wars television series. Hopefully that means several new Star Wars soundtracks will be released over the next few years. Kliner and the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra have created a worthy successor to the Star Wars saga and Star Wars: The Clone Wars belongs in any fans collection.