"Battle of the Heroes" is a musical piece and principal theme composed by John Williams for Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith. The original recording was performed by the London Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Williams.
For every new Star Wars movie, George Lucas wanted a new major theme. For Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith, Lucas wanted John Williams to write a piece that depicted a tragic duel between two former friends.
The use of intense choral arrangements echoes Williams's work on The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, as well as recent film soundtracks like Don Davis's work for The Matrix Revolutions. The main theme is at the heart of a climactic performance during "Anakin vs. Obi-Wan" and includes musical links to other major Williams's themes:
- "Its major recapitulation during 'Anakin vs. Obi-Wan' is agreeable enough, but is offset by a clever musical reference to Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back, specifically the climactic Luke/Darth Vader lightsaber fight in Cloud City. The allusions to the duality of the story, and to history repeating itself, are unmistakable, and the portentous performances of both the Imperial March and the Force Theme during this cue is one of Williams's most welcome touches to the musical heritage of the entire series, and almost rescues the theme from oblivion."
SonyBMG released the track as a limited edition CD single and an iTunes exclusive download, a first for a Star Wars musical score. Lucasfilm Ltd. created a promotional video for the single release, which was bundled with the CD single and made available through StarWars.com. The video, a shortened edition of a video available on the DVD Star Wars: A Musical Journey, included clips from Revenge of the Sith.
In the movie, the track starts to play after Obi-Wan and Anakin are caught in a collapsing control arm on Mustafar and ends when Obi-Wan leaves Anakin on the edge of the lava river.
Melodically, the main theme of "Battle of the Heroes" very much resembles the traditional Dies Irae melody found in countless works, most notably Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique. This is extremely appropriate, as the text of Dies Irae invokes apocalyptic images of wrath and judgment.
In Star Wars: Battlefront II, "Battle of the Heroes" is played when playing as Obi-Wan Kenobi. In the same game, the cues titled "Anakin vs. Obi-Wan" and "The Boys Continue" are played while playing as Darth Vader. In LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga, "Battle of the Heroes" is a part of the changed music in Episode III levels. A variant of it is also heard in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars episode "Ghosts of Mortis", when The Son shows Anakin a vision of what he'll become. The main theme is also heard in the episode "Destiny" when Yoda begins experiencing visions of the fall of the Jedi. Portions of "Battle of the Heroes" were also heard as part of the Boss battle BMG for the Nintendo DS version of Star Wars Battlefront: Elite Squadron.