The new Star Wars trailers might have been great no matter what music they used, but there’s no question that they were playing with an ace in the hole: John Williams’ iconic score, the franchise’s not-so-secret weapon.
Just how powerful is Star Wars’ main title theme? So powerful that there is no scene that it cannot elevate. To prove this, we paired it with a wide range of classic movie scenes—each of them improved by the insertion of the movies’ opening fanfare—below.
Update, April 23, 2015, 3 p.m.: In the comments, reader JamesDJ (who tells us he is freelancer and Classical WETA host James David Jacobs) shares another testament to the power of Star Wars’ opening theme, from a day he was broadcasting from Massachusetts’ Tanglewood Music Center:
I was depressed about my life, heartbroken over a failed relationship, and constantly stressed out about the demands of my job (which contributed to the failure of the relationship). One summer day my ridiculous job took me to Western Massachusetts, to a place called Tanglewood. It was early in the morning; the grounds would not be open to the public for several hours, and everyone who was there was at the Shed for the rehearsal of the Boston Pops, so I walked in all the way from the nearby town of Lenox and through the grounds seeing nary a soul. The natural beauty of the surroundings just made me feel even more alone; I was here on assignment, not to enjoy anything, and the crushing failure of my existence felt more palpable with every step. I climbed a hill toward my destination, turned a corner, and there, all of a sudden, was the Boston Pops with John Williams on the podium, and at the exact moment that I saw them John Williams raised his arms and the orchestra played that same exact opening burst from Star Wars. It was incredible; there was no one in the audience - everyone there was either on stage or backstage or in another building. I could imagine that they were playing it just for me.
I wish I could say that my life was triumphant after that. It feels like a betrayal of that music to say that my ex-girlfriend didn’t come running through the trees back into my arms at that moment, or that John Williams didn’t beckon me to the stage, pass me his baton, and have me conduct the orchestra in a blaze of glory. I have to content myself with bearing witness to a masterful representation of triumph.
My life still sucks, pretty much, even worse than it did then. But I can still draw on that moment to give me an idea of what triumph could feel like.