I like this pic coming via @bletchleypark on Twitter… I really want to make it to Bletchley Park this year – sounds fascinating.
Original tweet: http://twitter.com/bletchleypark/status/15038229154
Original pic: http://twitpic.com/1sgf2h
The film is the best of the original trilogy (and all the Star Wars films), and to match that the soundtrack outclasses even the Star Wars IV – A New Hope album. Again, this is the two cd set that accompanies the Special Edition version of the film – with all tracks now in chronological order.
After the Fox fanfare (specially re-recorded for the film) and the Main Title (Luke’s theme), the Ice Planet Hoth brings in a king of winter theme, light and then wild again, giving an impression of the environment. An excellent track. Snowspeeders matches this, and for eight wide-ranging minutes it speeds up and is more upbeat.
With the Imperial Probe the Imperial theme starts to enter the frame, building from undertones, measured and a bit sinister – until the theme kicks in good and proper.
The Battle of Hoth is truly epic – for fifteen minutes it returns back and forth between Luke’s theme and the Imperial theme. There s some heavy piano sounds for the relentless pounding forward of the AT-ATs. This is high speed, nimble action music all the way. The Escape in the Millennium Falcon section is great chase music which peaks with Imperial echoes showing that a threat still exists.
The Asteroid Field is increasingly Imperial, keeping up the momentum with blasts of music and bass drums pounding out the backbeat. Things take a turn for the erie for the Arrival on Dagobah, then Luke’s theme edges in, with quieter more tentative steps, then a flurry of sound and darker Imperial horns. Luke’s Nocturnal Visitor is a short respite from music that is slowly being consumed by the dark side – this is lighter, reflecting the Force seeping through.
Han Solo and the Princess is beautifully romantic for a moment, and very much to the fore in the film – but it doesn’t last long, with the Empire still encroaching heavily. By now no track is untouched by the Imperial theme. Mynock Cave reflects the Millennium Falcon’s frantic escape from the asteroid, and Magic Tree is foreboding, more mystic, matching the tone of the scene perfectly.
Just as that track is closing, the last notes are blasts from the Imperial theme – making you fully aware that there is no escape as you head on to cd number two.
With the second disc, most individual tracks go out the window as you sit back for an hour of some of the most powerful, frenetic music ever. Almost totally based on Imperial themes, it is relentless, reflecting the darker nature of the film. The only respite comes from Yoda’s Theme and Yoda and the Force – soft and soothing, blasting out the horns for the side of good. But even these are infected right at the end. The elegant beauty of Lando’s Palace lasts less than four minutes when the subject turns to betrayal and more sombre sounds.
This is truly some of the best music ever recorded – and that’s not just restricted to the soundtrack genre.
(Taken from my last website.)
Some more home-produced – ie wonky – pics of the limited edition hardback booklet with laser etched CDs from 1997 – a prized possession:
Front of sleeve:
Rear of sleeve:
Laser etched disc two:
Although the Death Star has been destroyed, the Empire is far from defeated. The rebels have been pushed back from their hidden base and have set up a new base on the ice world of Hoth. Darth Vader has launched thousands of probes into space to help find Luke Skywalker.
This time the film starts with the front of an Imperial Star Destroyer. On Hoth, Luke is attacked by an ice creature, which gives us an idea of how much his powers have grown – he his able to unlodge his lightsaber from the snow, destroy the creature and escape. He is nearly killed by the cold but is stirred by a vision of Obi Wan Kenobi which tells him to go to the Dagobah system to be trained as a Jedi by Yoda.
“Why you stuck up, half witted, scruffy looking nerf-herder”
Han wants to leave so that he can pay off his debt to Jabba the Hutt. Leia’s reaction to this starts them bickering and is the start of the sexual tension that builds up between the two of them. He is stopped from leaving when he finds an Imperial droid and destroys it. This lets the Empire know where the rebel base is, and they send in the big guns.
“There aren’t enough scoundrels in your life”
At this moment you are aware that this is better written than the first film, with a dark sense of humour. The music is also a lot more upfront and is used as a way of expressing emotion – from the imposing Imperial theme to the more romantic moments. It really is one of the stars of the film.
“Laugh it up, fuzzball”
When the Imperial troops overrun the base, Han and Leia escape on the Millennium Falcon and Luke heads off to Dagobah, to meet Yoda and start his training. He finds it difficult to deal with the expectations on him, and when he knows that Han and Leia are in trouble he leaves to help them, despite warnings that he is not ready to leave by both Yoda and Obi Wan.
“There is another”
Han and Leia are busy fighting off TIE fighters, asteroids and a big monster (in a scene where we discover that the Millennium Falcon has headlights.) They set off to meet up with an old friend but are betrayed, and Han ends up frozen in Carbonite.
The film reveals a lot more about the characters – we get our first real dealings with Boba Fett – but this is especially true of Darth Vader, when we discover that even he kneels for the Emperor. We also see a glimpse of the ravaged human head that exists under that helmet. There are other scenes where it almost looks like there is emotion is those black eyes. The Emperor has realised Luke’s importance and together they hatch a plan to try to turn him to the Dark Side.
What follows is Luke’s showdown with Vader and one of the biggest twists in cinema history. In the battle Luke loses a hand, but survives and is patched up. Ironically, in the process he becomes part machine – something of a family tradition.
Unlike the first film there are no niggles about this second chapter – it is still the best Star Wars film in the whole series, and everything is just pitch perfect.
John Gruber of Daring Fireball doing a good job of summing up how Apple goes about designing its products:
• Macworld: This is how Apple rolls
I love reading John Battelle’s stuff. These short posts are a good example:
He is also a good source of links:
It’s a shame that Richard Dawkins feels the need to do a book on the evidence for evolution. This is clear, convincing (not that it was necessary) and wonderful to listen to.
Conclusion: Life is amazing.
Before you read this try the astounding The Ancestor’s Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution, a novel way to look at the origins of life, especially good in audio.
A while back I started using Opera and was very impressed by the speed. I thought that it would be my default browser for a long time. Since then I’ve been trying the Google Chrome betas. Now I’m switching between Chrome (the interface still seems a bit austere but the foreign language translation of web pages is almost indistinguishable from magic), Opera and Firefox, which still cannot be beaten for its Delicious bookmarks integration. A default browser is almost a thing of the past… although Chrome + Delicious would be hard to beat.
I cannot claim to be any kind on expert on CK Prahalad, but of all the “business” books that I have read in recent years The New Age of Innovation is up there with the best. This BBC Global Business radio programme remembers his life and ideas, and is very interesting – particularly in relation to his ideas on the world’s poor.
• BBC Global Business: Upending the Pyramid: Remembering CK Prahalad
I don’t often read the book of the film – that has previously been reviewed here – but I was sufficiently intrigued that I gave the audiobook a try:
- it is evident that the film is a pretty literal copy of the book, so you could choose either and still be satisfied
- it shows that the more surreal aspects of the film come from the source
- the more surreal aspects of the book can be very disconcerting in audio, which overall makes it more effective – I’m assuming that these passages in the printed version are presented in italics
- the narrator does an excellent job – it is positively sinister.
A little while back I posted a talk with Vint Cerf about the internet today and tomorrow, and at the risk of repeating myself, here is another. Although they cover essentially the same ground I believe they are sufficiently different to be worth posting separately. For me, the most intriguing thing here is the discussion of interplanetary communication protocols. Maybe these could one day complement or completely replace IP addresses. Evidently I do not know the specifics – or if they are even really appropriate – but imagine a system of networking that starts with the assumption that every person and every object produced from now on (not to mention billions of sensors introduced to monitor or control existing infrastructure) would want to be connected to the internet and that the system should be able to scale so that allocation of addresses is effectively infinite.
Vint Cerf is always interesting and eloquent, and as you can see, gets you thinking too.