The first taste of Michael Giacchino's score for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has arrived. The composer's take on the classic franchise is demonstrably different from film music legend John Williams. While inspired by Williams, with plenty of blaring horns, steadily rising themes, melodic strings, and powerfully hitting timpani (coincidentally, the large drums are played here by Williams' brother), you can hear something truly new here, as well.
Giacchino's background comes from a mix of film, television, and video games, including war games, which helped in his work on this film. Rogue One has been compared multiple times to a World War II film, even moreso than a Star Wars movie, and the score should reflect that. The composer said that Williams music only makes up about "5%" of the total score. In the approximately 30 minutes of footage we saw at Skywalker Sound in San Francisco during the Rogue One press junket, that was clear. From the intro, which was a simple single musical phrase instead of a full fanfare, to the much more drastic music to match the frenetic pace of the footage we saw, there was only one Williams theme in all the footage - but we won't spoil exactly what or for which character.
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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hits US theaters December 16, 2016. Directed by Gareth Edwards, it's the first of the new standalone features from Lucasfilm and Disney, which take place outside the core "Skywalker Saga" of films noted by an Episode number. Rogue Onetells the story of the small band of rebels that were tasked with stealing the plans to the first Death Star. The story spins directly off the opening crawl from the original Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope. In that crawl, it read: "Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire. During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet."