The Empire Strikes Back without music

It’s hard to imagine what Star Wars would be like without the incredible music of composer John Williams. The themes created by the master of movie music are just as iconic as the movie itself, and more recognizable than 95% of the scores we hear for movies. But how does Williams prepare to write music for films?

Some vintage footage from 1980 shows Williams sitting down with producer George Lucas, director Irvin Kershner and producer Gary Kurtz to watch a cut of The Empire Strikes Back without music in order to figure out what he wants to do with the score for these scenes. In the clip, you actually get to see footage from the Star Wars sequel with a temporary soundtrack, and it’s absolutely fascinating.

Here’s the clip brought to our attention by Vashi Visuals:

What’s so cool about this video is seeing footage from The Empire Strikes Back, specifically from the scene where Han Solo (Harrison Ford) is frozen in carbonite, before any of the final sound effects were put in there. Even the dialogue isn’t final as we hear lines delivered by David Prowse as Darth Vader and not James Earl Jones.

Even more strange is seeing how the scene plays out without music. We’re so accustomed to hearing John Williams score playing up certain moments, like the classic “I love you” exchanged between Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Han Solo that seeing it without music is very jarring.

It just goes to show you how important Williams’ music has been to making Star Wars as powerful as it is on the big screen. I can’t even imagine how difficult it must be to watch a movie without music and try to write something the captures the essence of the scene without being too overpowering or distracting.

For those curious, this footage actually comes from an hour-long 1980 BBC documentary called Star Wars: Music by John Williams, and you can watch the entire documentary in full on YouTube right here. It’s definitely worth your time.

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