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Star Wars: A New Hope
Album Cover Art
1986 Polydor
1989 RCA
Album 2 Cover Art
1993 Fox
Album 3 Cover Art
1997 RCA
Special Edition
Album 4 Cover Art
1997 RCA
Album 5 Cover Art
2004 Sony
Classical Set
Album 6 Cover Art
2004 Sony
Classical Individual
Album 7 Cover Art
2007 Sony
Corellian Edition
Album 8 Cover Art
2007 Sony
30th Ann. Set
Album 9 Cover Art
Composed, Conducted, and Co-Produced by:

Co-Produced by:
George Lucas

Orchestrated by:
Herbert W. Spencer

Performed by:

1993, 1997, and 2004 Albums Produced by:
Nick Redman

1997 and 2004 Albums Produced by:
Michael Matessino

RCA Re-Recording Produced and Conducted by:
Charles Gerhardt

RCA Re-Recording Performed by:
The National Philharmonic Orchestra
Labels Icon

RCA Victor

20th Century Fox
(November 9th, 1993)

RCA Victor
(Special Edition)
(January 14th, 1997)

RCA Victor
(S.E. Re-Pressing)
(August 26th, 1997)

Sony Classical
(Individual and Set)
(September 21st, 2004)

Sony Classical
(Corellian Edition)
(October 2nd, 2007)

Sony Classical
(30th Ann. Edition)
(November 6th, 2007)
Availability Icon
All of the CD albums were regular commercial releases at their outset. Both the original 1986 2-CD set and 1989 RCA Gerhardt album historically have been available used for about $5 to $7.

The 1993 Fox Anthology was believed at the time to be the most collectible soundtrack CD set in existence, and has retained its original street value because of its relative scarcity and packaging.

The 1997 RCA Special Edition albums came in two forms, the black booklet format available early that year and the slimline format in August, 1997 to coincide with the VHS release of the revised films. The latter albums (with poster art on the covers) have fallen completely out of print, and while new copies of the 'black book' formatted RCA albums of early 1997 are also difficult to find, they have remained readily available for sub-retail price on the used market.

The 2004 Sony Classical products are bargain priced, though you receive no additional packaging benefits from buying the trilogy as a set outside of the silver and black holding box.

The 2007 Sony Classical albums contain no additional new contents or remastering. The "Corellian Edition" compilation, which was leaked as a promotional teaser in some 2005 pressings of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, is sold alone as a regular commercial release (with two different cover art variants) and is included as CD7 in the concurrently offered "30th Anniversary Collector's Edition." That set, featuring original LP packaging, was electronically numbered up to 10,000 copies and initially retailed for $80. Its value soon plunged, in part due to production problems that caused the wrong combination of CDs to be included in the set. temporarily pulled the product due to complaints.
Winner of an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, a BAFTA Award, and three Grammy Awards.
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Decorative Nonsense
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Availability | Awards | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Audio & Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... on the 1997 "Special Edition" albums over all others because they feature the best combination of outstanding packaging and a complete presentation of John Williams' classic, iconic, and revolutionary space opera music.

Avoid it... on the 1986 to 1993 albums because of poorer, archival sound quality and incomplete presentations, as well as the 2004 and 2007 re-pressings that are identical to the 1997 albums in contents but without the superior packaging.
Review Icon
WRITTEN 1/14/97, REVISED 8/31/11
Star Wars: A New Hope: (John Williams) Commonly considered one of the greatest films of all time, Star Wars launched the space opera craze of the 1980's and unintentionally spawned the culture of blockbuster sequels that has endured in the decades since. Its budget of $11 million was nursed by concept creator and director George Lucas to allow for the special effects wizardry of Industrial Light & Magic to dazzle audiences with visuals of a variety never seen before. More important to the film's success than the awe-inspiring effects of spacecraft in battle, however, are its affably quirky characters and a compelling storyline. A farm boy on a desert planet accidentally owns a silly pair of droids that carry the secrets to destroying the most powerful weapon in the arsenal of an evil Galactic Empire, and with the help of a old master of magic (otherwise known as a Jedi Knight, one of a group that inspired Earthlings to make "Jedi" an actual, state-recognized religion in several countries by appearing as a common enough answer on census forms), he joins a rebellion and initiates the downfall of the Empire. The tagline "a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away" became engrained in pop culture so thoroughly that Lucas developed the concept into a fuller franchise of six films of a reportedly nine-part arc, initially breaking the box office records set by Jaws after just six months and eventually earning billions of dollars and encouraging the filmmaker to improve upon the renamed Star Wars: A New Hope (and his other entries in the original trilogy to follow) by modernizing the special effects and adding new scenes to the classic. Not only was a saga born, but orchestral film music experienced a rebirth in 1977 as a result as well. Lucas had originally intended for the movie to be tracked with his favorite symphonic classical pieces, including a few Golden Age film scores, but buddy Steven Spielberg convinced him to hire John Williams for the job based on the composer's ability to write classically-inclined music for foreign environments and, of course, his recent success on Jaws. Little did anyone know that the maestro was in the early years of the most productive period in his career, and no single orchestral score has had more of an influence on the history of movies and their music than what Williams conjured for the original Star Wars.

At a time when the Silver Age of film music had emphasized (and rewarded) smaller orchestras and pop style genres of music in film, it was feared by long-time film score collectors that the glory days of Ben-Hur and Lawrence of Arabia had forever passed. Ironically, Williams had been a part of that "modernizing" trend of music for films when he, in the first ten years of his career, was known as "Johnny Williams" and earned significant respect and awards recognition for his jazz and musical works. But throughout the 1970's, Williams began a film score renaissance, shifting perceptions of greatness back in the direction of large orchestras and sweeping themes. His disaster scores of the early 70's often combined his orchestral and pop influences together, as heard popularly in The Towering Inferno and The Poseidon Adventure, and in 1975, Williams' Jaws won him his first dramatic score Oscar and, for film buffs, ushered in that renaissance for good. It wasn't until his trio of famous adventure/fantasy scores in the late 1970's, though, that the public fully embraced the move. With Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Superman revealed to audiences within a year's time, Williams cemented broadly thematic orchestral works as the must-have sound for studios of Hollywood's Bronze Age (largely consisting of the 1980's in the last years of the pre-digital era). Williams' Star Wars alone would become the most popular soundtrack of all time, selling many millions of copies and mirroring the film in its cult following. Perhaps baffling to collectors today, the title theme of Star Wars was so popular on the charts that a disco dance version of it was pressed onto a wildly embraced LP record and heard frequently in clubs for an entire year after the film's release. It may seem elementary by post-2000 standards of film music composition, but the use of a prominent title theme and the constant development several leitmotifs in 1977 was a refreshingly bold move back to the Wagnerian influence of Hollywood's Golden Age. The existence of so many memorable themes and their masterful placement throughout the film for individual characters and settings was a somewhat novel concept at the time. Lucas encouraged Williams to seek inspiration in classic movie scores by everyone from Erich Wolfgang Korngold to Alessandro Cicognini, some of which influencing Williams' finished score enough for trained ears to detect.

A common thread for Williams in all of his Star Wars scores, and especially prominent in the original trilogy, is his concentration of the soundtracks' melodic cores around three central themes, each usually informing the concert suites that he arranged from these ideas. A bit different in these regards is Star Wars, however, with the main theme and that of Princess Leia sharing the focus while the third major idea, that of the "Force," factors significantly in this score (and becomes more of a complete, overarching identity in all six films, even more so than the title theme) despite never receiving its own concert arrangement by Williams outside of its attachment to the first score's famous "Throne Room" finale that was often performed alongside the official end credits suite. The main theme for the franchise opens each of the films in overture form and serves the heroic action element throughout, though originally it was deemed lead character Luke Skywalker's dedicated theme. It explodes in bursts of immense energy as the film approaches its climax and establishes itself as a familiar bookend when it opens all of the end credits sequences in the six films. After five takes on the first day of recording sessions for the 1977 original, Williams and Lucas combined three of them to form the "Main Titles" that listeners are so familiar with today, the melody largely considered the most widely recognized film score theme of all time. The theme for Princess Leia is the lush, romantic interlude to the fanfare in the end credits and receives its own major arrangement. Williams is dedicated to referencing her theme whenever she is relevant, including an introduction during the initial attack sequence, longing performances when her recording is seen by Luke, and a surprisingly robust rendition upon Ben Kenobi's death and the escape from the Death Star. The theme for the Force is also well placed in the entirety of Star Wars, sprinkled throughout the scenes featuring Kenobi but most famously accompanying two of the film's most poignant scenes: first, the binary sunset vista as Luke contemplates his future and then at the conclusion, when he uses solely the Force to continue his attack on the Death Star. The aforementioned "The Throne Room" cue translates the theme into a stately, optimistic march, though this usage has always seemed slightly out of place as a reference to the rebel celebration rather anything truly unique to the Force (the choice makes a little more sense if you think of it from the perspective that Williams must have had when tackling the movie as a single entity and not part of a larger franchise).

The secondary motifs in Star Wars are a curious bunch, because most of them are not touched upon again the subsequent movies. The most intriguing of these is a belligerent, stomping identity for the Death Star itself, the theme that represented the evil Empire before the "Imperial March" took over in the next film. The idea sadly disappears completely in the sequels, not even hinted in Return of the Jedi for the second Death Star. The firing mechanism with that battle station enjoys its own motif, a crescendo of rhythmic ensemble hits anticipating the blasts. Likewise, the stormtroopers chasing around in the corridors are treated to an extension of this material. The various creatures of the desert world of Tatooine are afforded sparse rhythmic material that is among the score's weakest. Only when the Jawa crawler is afforded a grim, full ensemble motif does this material really impress, though it strays awfully close to the villains' theme in tone. The anthem of nobility that extends out of the Force theme in "The Throne Room" likely qualifies as its own self-contained theme for the Rebel Alliance as well, though its only subsequent reference would come as an awkward application to the end titles of Revenge of the Sith. Williams' ability to shift between these themes, in their various states of volume and completeness, is what truly captured audiences at the time. For people discovering the original Star Wars scores today, it may be the dominant memorability of each individual theme that causes such fan attachment, but if you consider A New Hope as a whole and appreciate its lesser-known cues, you'll hear the real reason why the score was such a success. A cue like "Tales of a Jedi Knight/Learn about the Force" contains so many of the themes in magical, conversational context that you realize that Williams' music for the series doesn't require bombast for the same effective utilization of the Wagnerian concepts. This is not to say, however, that bold statements of theme in Star Wars aren't worthy of their place in history. The "Imperial Attack" and "TIE Fighter Attack" cues are both immensely satisfying in how they punctuate the adrenaline rush of their scenes, the latter resolving with incredible relief as the last enemy fighter explodes. The final battle cue transitions from suspense to action with a tremendous sense of anticipation, its rhythmic propulsion vital to the scene. And, of course, no discussion of the various facets of Star Wars sound be complete without the two "Cantina Band" source pieces for the exotic Tatooine bar, both of which highly obnoxious in their otherworldly jazz but perfectly tailored to the oddly configured creatures in the room.

Ratings Icon
Average: 4.24 Stars
***** 10,304 5 Stars
**** 3,243 4 Stars
*** 1,973 3 Stars
** 1,176 2 Stars
* 583 1 Stars
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No use of Death Star motif?   Expand >>
Ashley Watts - February 19, 2012, at 11:42 a.m.
2 comments  (1482 views)
Newest: April 30, 2015, at 6:50 Faleel
Glad your expanding the Star Wars reviews *NM*
Beyond El Mar - November 13, 2011, at 6:35 p.m.
1 comment  (1086 views)
Brass Section (London Symphony Orchestra)
N.R.Q. - July 11, 2007, at 11:00 a.m.
1 comment  (5030 views)
On various versions of the Star Wars Main Title
Steen Kaargaard - June 17, 2007, at 11:20 a.m.
1 comment  (3346 views)
A true masterpiece
Sheridan - August 20, 2006, at 5:24 a.m.
1 comment  (1919 views)
John Williams conducts John Williams/SW Trilogy/Skywalker Symphony   Expand >>
Bren - July 13, 2006, at 5:51 a.m.
2 comments  (3281 views)
Newest: October 4, 2006, at 9:50 batsugun

Track Listings Icon
Audio Samples   ▼
1986 Polydor Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 74:54
CD1: (38:50)

• 1. Main Title (5:24)
• 2. Imperial Attack (6:19)
• 3. Princess Leia's Theme (4:25)
• 4. The Desert and Robot Auction (2:55)
• 5. Ben's Death and Tie Fighter Attack (3:49)
• 6. The Little People Work (4:04)
• 7. Rescue of the Princess (4:49)
• 8. Inner City (4:16)
• 9. Cantina Band (2:45)
CD2: (36:04)

• 1. The Land of the Sand People (2:52)
• 2. Mouse Robot and Blasting Off (4:04)
• 3. The Return Home (2:48)
• 4. The Walls Converge (4:35)
• 5. The Princess Appears (4:06)
• 6. The Last Battle (12:09)
• 7. The Throne Room and End Title (5:27)
1989 RCA Gerhardt Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 54:18
1993 Fox Anthology Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 85:36
1997 RCA Special Edition Tracks   ▼Total Time: 105:45
2004 Sony Classical Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 105:45
2007 Sony Corellian Edition Tracks   ▼Total Time: 54:57
2007 Sony 30th Ann. Edition Tracks   ▼Total Time: 105:45

Notes Icon
The 1986 Polydor and 1989 RCA Gerhardt albums contain no information about the film, score, or recording. The 1993 Fox Anthology has extensive notes and pictorials in an oversized booklet with information written by John Williams, Nicholas Meyer, and Lukas Kendall. The 1997 RCA Special Edition albums with the black book format include extensive notation from album arranger Michael Matessino regarding the film, score as a whole, and each cue. A recording log for Star Wars in this 1997 album also includes information about each take. The 1997 RCA Special Edition slimline format lacks the same level of detail. The 2004 Sony Classical products (available both as a set and individually) include a fold-out poster, but sadly no extra information about the film or score. The packaging of Sony Classical's 2007 "Corellian Edition" is minimal, though the label's "30th Anniversary Collector's Edition" includes the original LP packaging for each score and a bonus CD-ROM with additional material. The detailed Matessino notes about the scores are once again missing from the 2007 products. A sample of the colorful 1997 RCA Special Edition CDs is seen at right (each of the three 2-CD sets for the trilogy has a different pattern on the CDs).
Copyright © 1997-2015, Filmtracks Publications. All rights reserved.
The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten
or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from Star Wars: A New Hope are Copyright © 1986, 1989, 1993, 1997, 2004, 2007, Polydor/Polygram, RCA Victor (Gerhardt), 20th Century Fox (Anthology), RCA Victor (Special Edition), RCA Victor (S.E. Re-Pressing), Sony Classical (Individual and Set), Sony Classical (Corellian Edition), Sony Classical (30th Ann. Edition) and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 1/14/97 and last updated 8/31/11.
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