"I am a huge admirer of John Williams' work. I think he isundoubtedly one of the greatest score composers of all time. Many ofthe beloved movies of our time, especially by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, would be incomplete without Williams' magic. Since the music for the "Star Wars" films are among his most impressive achievements, I was really curious about his score for "Episode I". Let's start with the good news. Williams has once again managed to elevate the movie. There may be less recognizeable themes in this score, but when you watch the movie, you can understand why. The film is more of a setup, without many quiet or lyrical moments. The real drama will happen in the next films and the score also reflects that. Still, there are many nice and effective little motives in the score. I especially liked the one for the battle-droids (I liked them in the movie, too. They just look and sound so great). "Anakins Theme" wonderfully foreshadows the "Imperial March" and "Duel of the Fates" gives the lightsaber duel the pathos that it needs. My problem with the soundtrack CD is not what it does contain but what it does not. The soundtrack is 74 minutes long, but in the film, there are over 105 minutes of music. Why, for example, is the part where Qui-Gon fights with Darth Maul on Tatooine, not on the soundtrack, or the music when the two Jedi arrive at Theed. John Williams made the same mistake with the soundtracks for "Indiana Jones 2 and 3", which are also far too short. If one CD is not sufficient for all tracks, why don't they produce a double-CD. I'm sure there are enough fans out there to make it worthwile. I do also not understand why the cues aren't in chronological order. It would be less confusing. Despite all this quibbles, "The Phantom Menace" is a must for all lovers of John Williams and of great film scores. Perhaps Williams releases the rest of the score on another CD, and by the way, I'm still waiting for the expanded editions of "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" and also of "Last Crusade" (one of his best). After all, they did release an expanded version of "Raiders of the Lost Ark"."
GREAT score, Album is a SELLOUT
Steven Reynolds | 01/13/2000
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This CD is a horrific example of what happens when great music meets bad record label. No tracks on this CD are intact, are are fragments carelessly strewn around. This is due to the carelessness and arrogance of Sony Classical. After a 5 million dollar buy on Sony's part, Williams and Lucas decided to sell out their classical work. It contains no portions of Qui-Gons theme or the briefly stated (new for episode 1) Obi-Wan's theme. This album should have gotten the 2 CD RCA victor treatment like the Special editions soundtracks did. I was shocked. I DEMAND, ALONG WITH MANY OTHER FANS- A TWO CD SET!"
Good for starters, but Ultimate Edition is better
Alex Diaz-Granados | Miami, FL United States | 09/20/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This soundtrack album, first released in May of 1999 a few weeks before the release of Episode I, can best be called an appetizer for what followed. Not just to the film itself, mind you, but also to Sony's subsequent 2000 2-CD Ultimate Edition soundtrack.While this double-dipping marketing technique is not without precedent, it does highlight this album's weaknesses, even though these, too, are not without precedent in Star Wars soundtracks' history.Although the quality of the music is, as always, good and the London Symphony Orchestra's performance is brilliant, I found the music track names to be inaccurate and misleading. For instance, Arrival at Naboo, the music that follows the familiar Star Wars main title on Track 1 is NOT from that sequence at the start of the film. Rather, that cue is heard when Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Queen Amidala, and Anakin Skywalker arrive at Coruscant. Call me nit-picky, but I find such mislabeling to be rather annoying.The one virtue that saves this somewhat disappointing "soundtrack" is the rendition of the two central new themes introduced in The Phantom Menace: Duel of the Fates and Anakin's Theme. It also serves as a good collector's item, but if you want the best recording from The Phantom Menace, do yourself a favor...save a few bucks and spend them on the more pricey (but more complete) Ultimate Edition."
At least the music's good
Steven Reynolds | Sydney, Australia | 11/13/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The music is the best thing about the "Star Wars" prequels because John Williams succeeds where George Lucas has failed abysmally. Rather than jettisoning his old work in some obsessive pursuit of innovation, Williams moves forward while reworking key elements of the original scores to create the thematic connections Lucas's plodding writing cannot possibly secure. He doesn't just duplicate his work from the original trilogy - he transposes aspects of it into an entirely new register, both musically and emotionally. "Anakin's Theme" adapts the old Imperial March into a new key, in a neat foreshadowing of Anakin's fate. While "Duel of the Fates" is not only a chilling backdrop to a lightsaber battle; its choral references to 'Carmina Burana' and other German masterworks help activate latent fears about the evils of our own time. Williams really knows what he's doing here - he seems to be the only member of the prequel crew who does. The result is music which is beautiful, intelligent and stunningly effective. If only he wrote screenplays, too..."
How quick can a score surpass the film itself?
G. Kroener | Bamberg, Bavaria Germany | 08/03/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I tell you: within 5 seconds! As soon as I heard the opening chords of Duel Of The Fates, I knew I was going to love this Soundtrack.
First, and above all, I'd like to point out that this score doesn't sound at all like the original ones from 30 years ago. Obviously not only because of the recording quality, but simply because Williams evolved since then, pretty much as any other composer. Unfortunately, this is the biggest flaw of Episode I; it doesn't recapture the sound of the originals, but neither does it establish a new Star Wars sound. Of course that doesn't diminish the quality of the soundtrack, but it is the reason why Phantom Menace ranks behind the first three scores. It is a great John Williams score, but it's not identifiably Star Wars, except for a few bright spots.
The theme for the trade federation is as Star Wars- like as you can get, and I firmly believe that it will be remembered as a classic, just like Anakin's Theme. How the music for young Darth Vader interwines an own motif and the Imperial March is simply pure genius.
There are other highlights on this soundtrack: the reappearance of the noble Force theme, an even more evil statement of the Emperor's theme in "The Appearance Of Darth Maul" and the funeral music for Qui- Gon. The rest is non- thematic, typical John Williams underscore, but, like I said, on a higher level than usual.
Unlike other reviewers here, I strongly recommend you to buy the single disc edition instead of the Ultimate Edition. The original release provides you with comprehensive suites, unlike the 2 disc edition, which only offers the bad cut and paste jobs from the film edit. Plus, it lacks some material of the original release!"