Did John Williams Score Give Away Who Rey’s Parent Are?


Over at Browbeat, Slate‘s excellent music deep dive site, Ali Arikan sat down and analyzed the score for the final Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer. And some of his observations lead down very spoilery paths. Strap in and grab your tinfoil hats. Because John Williams might have let us know the score last night without us realizing it.

As Arikan notes, that opening theme we hear at the top of the trailer is new, played as a sketched out, hollow piano notes. Let’s call it “Rey’s Theme.” The same theme in slightly different motifs is played under both her introduction and the introduction of Finn, with Finn’s including “some of the whispered words in Sanskrit from “Duel of the Fates,” the key musical motif from The Phantom Menace.” The music ties him to Rey, and yet pulls him in a different direction.

Then the music darkens and Kylo Ren appears for the first time, and things get interesting. As Arikan notes, Rey’s Theme, unadulterated this time, plays under Kylo Ren’s introduction, but this time as a fully realize orchestral piece. The comparison is hard to ignore once you hear it–they are the same song. Hers the light, innocent version. His, the dark and eerie one.

But it’s the theme that then blends in that starts the real debate. Just as he’s asking if Kylo Ren and Rey are someone related, since they are clearly related by music:

 …this new theme blends into a brand new arrangement of Han and Leia’s love theme from The Empire Strikes Back. Now, John Williams reverse-engineered a number of the themes from the original trilogy for the prequels (see the final celebration music in The Phantom Menace as well as the final few notes of the “Trade Federation March”). Could this seamless musical transition in the trailer hint at something more?

Could it? The assumption that twins run in the Skywalker family has been one since the beginning, when Luke and Leia were revealed to be brother and sister. And though the Expanded Universe is no more (excuse me, “Legends,” as it’s now known), it is hard to put aside the idea that Han and Leia went on to have twins, and that they are the next generation of Jedi to rise. And it sounds like John Williams has scored the trailer to feed directly into that.

One final note: Arikan also has an answer to the “Where is Luke” question everyone is asking this week. He’s right there, in the ending of the trailer.

The final track we hear is the familiar Star Wars theme, played slowly and somberly, as a disembodied voice tells someone to “let the Force in.”

That’s Luke’s theme. He is calling for us.

One could argue that the scene that is cut off, where Finn takes up Luke’s lightsaber is why the trailer chose to play that theme at that moment. But it’s also hard to ignore that it answers where Luke is. He, like Obi-Wan, and the Force, will be with us. Always.

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