A musical motif composed by John Williams and performed by the London Symphony Orchestra first appeared in the 1980 film Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back. The motif is played as an ostinato, with the film score's "To Hyperspace" track featuring the motif prominently. The same track was incorporated into the track "Snowspeeder Rescue," which plays in the film when Rogue Squadron, led by Wedge Antilles, search for Han Solo and Commander Luke Skywalker with modified T-47 airspeeders on Hoth. Later in the film, the dark side ostinato is played as Luke Skywalker hangs from a weather scanner vane of Cloud City and as the Millennium Falcon escapes from the city and the Galactic Empire's Death Squadron on Bespin.
A similar musical figure is played in the 1977 film Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, as Luke Skywalker races towards his burning homestead. A rendition of the dark side ostinato appears in the soundtrack to Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi, with the music being played at the start of the concert suite "The Forest Battle," which refers to the Ewok ground battles of the Battle of Endor. Every two intances of the motif is followed by a transition to the dies irae leitmotif.
The dark side motif in "The Forest Battle" was adapted by Paul Webb for being played in the Endor levels of the 1995 video game Super Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. The ostinato is also played during levels—particularly snowspeeder levels—of the Star Wars: Rogue Squadron, composed by Chris Hülsbeck and released in 1998. The tracks "TIE Fighter Attack" and "Save the city" in the game's Concert Hall feature contain the motif, with the track "Snowspeeder theme" being composed of the ostinato. The 1996 video game Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire makes use of the "To Hyperspace" track for the hovertrain level on Ord Mantell.
While The Empire Strikes Back's "To Hyperspace" is included in Star Wars: Bounty Hunters, a 2002 video game tie-in to the film Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones, the Return of the Jedi ostinato is played in the beginning of the Seduction TV Spot for the 2005 prequel trilogy film Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith, where Palpatine seduces Anakin Skywalker to the dark side of the Force.
The dark side ostinato reappears in the track "Rogue One" of the soundtrack to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, a 2016 anthology film composed by Michael Giacchino. In the film, the track accompanies the sequence of rebels readying to sacrifice themselves on the Imperial world of Scarif. The dark side motif is played twice during the Battle of Crait sequence in the 2017 sequel trilogy Star Wars: Episode VIII The Last Jedi. It is featured in the track "The Battle of Crait" of the accompanying soundtrack.
The Episode V "To Hyperspace" track is repurposed for the Resistance's escape from the Finalizer in the Rise of the Resistance ride, which opened in Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge in 2019. The score of the 2019 sequel film Star Wars: Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker also contains the Episode V dark side ostinato by tracking from "To Hyperspace."
The dark side motif in The Rise of Skywalker is played as the Millennium Falcon hyperspace jumps through the galaxy, where the ostinato is interspersed with dies irae and overlayed with "March of the Resistance" and the Rebel Fanfare, which transitions to the new heroics motif before returning to the Resistance motif. The "To Hyperspace" track then plays alongside the Rebel Fanfare before the music ends with the climatic music to the Battle of Yavin in 1977's A New Hope.
Notes and references
- Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back soundtrack
- Super Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
- Star Wars: Rogue Squadron
- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
- Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi soundtrack
- Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire (video game)
- Star Wars: Bounty Hunters
- Star Wars: Episode VIII The Last Jedi
- Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge – Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
- Star Wars: Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker
- Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back
- Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope
- Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi
- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story soundtrack