Williams Talks ‘Revenge of the Sith’ (2005)

Transcript of the John Williams interview featured o­n the Wal-Mart exclusive bonus track

May 11, 2005

“In Revenge of the Sith there are three or four pieces of new material. A couple of them have to do with lamentations in a way. They accompany some very dark turns in the action of Anakin’s turn from the light to the dark, so to speak.

Also, a kind of fun piece with a lot of percussion for Grievous, who is a new character in the film. But in this film more than any of the other five, there are references to earlier themes, which seem to me and to George to be part of the way we want to tell the story musically. There’s a reference to what we call the ‘Force theme,’ which is the positive side of the Force, which is referred to more and more in this film. And there are even some references to Princess Leia’s forthcoming arrival and we hear her theme for the first time in several films. And there are quotations of what we call ‘The Imperial March,’ but it’s actually Darth Vader’s theme, the arch-baddie, the arch-villain of all time.

As Anakin is going through his process of change and becoming Darth Vader – we have more and more need in this film to refer to earlier melodic references. And so it’s a combination of new material and old material.

It’s quite a musical tapestry. It’s orchestral, and there are some choral sections in it also. And for Darth Maul we’ve had this ‘Duel of the Fates.’ You know people always ask me what the text of what the chorus is singing [is]. We have the chorus singing with the orchestra in ‘Duel of the Fates’ and then also in Revenge of the Sith. And people have asked me what the text is and what you’re hearing are Sanskrit words that are translations of an English translation of an old Celtic poem. And the poem is a famous poem to people who know about Celtic antiquity; it’s called The Battle of the Trees. The English translation that I’m referring to was delivered to us by Robert Graves, who was a famous poet. And in thinking about what to write for that sequence – we didn’t have a text and I always loved The Battle of the Trees – and I found a couple lines in there and the lines are – and I’m quoting exactly correctly there:

Under the tongue root a fight most dread
While another rages behind in the head.

And this is the Sanskrit translation. You’re going to hear a new choral piece, which does contain some references to Duel of the Fates, but most of it is entirely new. And again, it’s Sanskrit and it’s a translation of a very simple line, which is just:

Grievous are the crimes of the Empire

And that’s what they sing. We will not know that, but we will understand what the message is.”