"Once again, John Williams has exceeded my expectations and produced a lavish, rich, moving and thrilling score. Every fan of Star Wars—and of great music—is in his debt."
George Lucas about John Williams' score for Revenge of the Sith[src]

"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.

Overview[edit | edit source]

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."[1]

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.

The track was also included on the film soundtrack album released May 3, 2005.

A portion of the track plays in the climax of the Battle of D'Qar in Star Wars: Episode VIII The Last Jedi as part of the film's "Main Title and Escape" track.

Behind the scenes[edit | edit source]

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. 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.

Appearances[edit | edit source]

Notes and references[edit | edit source]

Leitmotifs and themes
Introduced in Episode IV
Leitmotifs:
Luke Skywalker · The Rebellion · Princess Leia · Jawa · The Force · Tusken Raider · Death Star · dies irae · Imperials

Recurring themes/concert pieces/songs:
"Star Wars Main Title" · "Cantina Band" · "Here They Come!/TIE Fighter Attack" · "The Final Battle" · "The Throne Room"

Introduced in Episode V
Leitmotifs: The Empire/Darth Vader · C-3PO and R2-D2 · "Han Solo and the Princess" · Yoda · Lando Calrissian · Boba Fett

Recurring themes: "The Asteroid Field"

Introduced in Episode VI
Leitmotifs: Jabba the Hutt · Funeral · Ewoks · Luke and Leia · The Emperor (Sith)

Concert pieces/songs: "Jabba the Hutt" · "Lapti Nek" · "Jedi Rocks"
"The Forest Battle" · "Ewok Celebration"/Yub Nub · "Victory Celebration" (VI)

Introduced in Holiday Special
"Light the Sky on Fire" · "Goodnight, But Not Goodbye" · "A Day to Celebrate"
Introduced in Droids and Ewoks
"In Trouble Again" · "Ewoks" · "Friends Together, Friends Forever"
Introduced in Rogue Squadron and Shadows of the Empire
"Rogue Squadron Main Title" · Xizor's Theme · Dash's theme
Introduced in Episode I
Leitmotifs: Qui-Gon Jinn · Jar Jar Binks · Darth Maul · Anakin Skywalker (V) · Shmi Skywalker

Recurring themes: "Droid Invasion Theme" · "The Flag Parade" · "Escape from Naboo" · "Duel of the Fates"

Introduced in Episode II
Conspiracy · Mystery · "Across the Stars" · "The Meadow Picnic" · "The Arena" (Republic) · Palpatine's machinations
Introduced in Episode III
General Grievous · Sith mystery · "Padm√©'s Ruminations" (III) · "Anakin's Betrayal" (I, II)
"Anakin's Dark Deeds" (V, II, III) · "Battle of the Heroes" · "Padm√©'s Destiny"
Introduced in Knights of the Old Republic I and II
Old Republic theme · Kreia's motif · Sith Triumvirate motif (II) · Nar Shaddaa motif · Korriban motif
Introduced in The Old Republic
Songs · The Commander · Valkorion
Introduced in The Force Unleashed
The Force Unleashed · Rahm Kota · Juno Eclipse · Redemption
Introduced in The Clone Wars and Rebels
Leitmotifs: Clone Wars victory · Ahsoka Tano · Padm√© Amidala
Rebels · Ezra Bridger · The Grand Inquisitor · Glory of the Empire (V) · Maul · Thrawn
Introduced in Anthology Series
Jyn Erso and Hope (IV) · Galactic Empire · Guardians of the Whills · messenger (IV)
Han Solo · "Empire Recruitment" · Enfys Nest · L3-37
Introduced in Episode VII
Leitmotifs: Kylo Ren (V, V, VI, I, II, VII) · Rey (II, VI, II, III, VII) · Poe Dameron
The Resistance · Tension motif (II) · Snoke · "Jedi Steps"

Themes/songs: "Han and Leia" · "Jabba Flow"

Introduced in Episode VIII
Rose Tico · Desperation (VII) · Luke in exile
Introduced in Episode IX
Knights of Ren · "Anthem of Evil" (II, II, III, VI, VII, VIII) · "The Rise of Skywalker" (Victory motif (II, VII) · Friendship motif)
Jedi: Fallen Order
"Sugaan Essena" · Cal Kestis · Eno Cordova
Introduced in the LEGO Freemaker Adventures and the Holiday Special
Main Title/Freemakers' motif · Connection motif · "Joh blastoh"
Introduced in Galaxy's Edge
Galaxy's Edge Symphonic Suite · Theme park music · "Tara's Theme" · "Pinteeka Dub" · "Age of Jedi"
Introduced in The Mandalorian
"The Mandalorian" · "The Child" · Gideon · Nite Owls
[edit]
Real-world music
Soundtracks
Saga:
I · II · III · IV · V · VI · VII · VIII · IX
Original Soundtrack Anthology · Ultimate Vinyl Collection
Ultimate Soundtrack Edition · Ultimate Digital Collection
Spin-off films & TV:
Ewoks ¬∑ The Clone Wars: film, Seasons 1–6, Season Seven (1–4, 5–8, 9–12) ¬∑ Rebels: One, Two
Rogue One · Solo · The Mandalorian (Chapter 1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · 6 · 7 · 8 · 9-12 · 13-16)
Video games:
Shadows of the Empire · Republic Commando · The Old Republic: Collector's Edition · YouTube playlist
Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge
Oga's Cantina: R3X's Playlist 1
Composers
Clint Bajakian · Peter Bernstein · Paul Dinletir · Michael Giacchino · Patrick Gleeson · Ludwig Göransson · Mark Griskey
Jesse Harlin ¬∑ Jerry Hey ¬∑ Chris H√ľlsbeck ¬∑ Dean Kiner ¬∑ Kevin Kiner ¬∑ Sean Kiner ¬∑ Frank Klepacki ¬∑ Bear McCreary
Joel McNeely · Lin-Manuel Miranda · Danny Piccione · John Powell · Ryan Shore · Jeremy Soule
Joseph Trapanese · James L. Venable · John Williams · Joseph Williams
Performers
London Symphony Orchestra · London Voices
City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra · Royal Scottish National Orchestra
New London Children's Choir · Seattle Sinfonia Orchestra
Kamuela Philharmonic Orchestra · Los Angeles Master Chorale · Kathleen Battle
Vienna Philharmonic · Hamburger Symphoniker · Jefferson Starship · The Hu
Sheet music books
The Phantom Menace · Attack of the Clones · Revenge of the Sith
Music from the Star Wars Trilogy: Special Edition · Selections from Star Wars
Star Wars: A Musical Journey: Episodes I-VI · Star Wars Episodes I, II & III Instrumental Solos
Star Wars for Beginning Piano Solo · The Force Awakens · Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Music videos
"Lapti Nek" · The Duel of the Fates · A Hero Falls
Other
Bantha Music · Christmas in the Stars · Lapti Nek Dance Remix · Tusken Music · Headspace
[edit]
In other languages
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