Rogue One: A Star Wars story is the first Star Wars movie that won't be linked to the main saga. It's the first movie that won't feature an opening crawl. It's also the first mainstream live-action movie that won't be scored by John Williams, the composer who has worked on every episode to date, including last year's The Force Awakens.
Have some sympathy, then, for Michael Giacchino; the musician was following one of Hollywood's most gifted, attempting to add his musical ear to one of the biggest franchises in the history of cinema. As if that pressure wasn't enough, due to original composer Alexandre Desplat leaving the project, Giacchino had just over a month to create the score, from start to finish.
It's admirable that Giacchino has come out the other side seemingly unscathed. He deliberately avoided the nitty gritty on Desplat's departure in September, instead focusing all of his energy into making the most of his intensive deadline on a project that landed in his lap just after he wrapped the score on the MCU's latest, Doctor Strange.
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Scoring Against The Clock
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Giacchino approach the situation with humility, instead focusing on the positive aspect of the work. Explaining the last-minute nature of his recruitment, he said:
"The last thing I expected I’d be doing this month would be this. I mean we were literally planning a vacation when I got the call asking if I could come and talk to them about it.
At the time, it left me with literally four and a half weeks to write. So it was one of those decisions where you’re like, okay, well…And I was talking to my brother about it. He goes, 'Oh, come on. You’ve been writing this score since you were 10! You can do this.'"
Although Giacchino's approach is admirable, the wider connotations are worrying, particularly because the road to production has been far from smooth. Much was made of the announcement that Rogue One would go through reshoots back in June, with rumors ranging from a desperate patch-up job to lighten the tone, to a previously scheduled addition of a famous cameo.
However, Giacchino oozes confidence when it comes to the source material. His comments on the narrative are interesting, tying in with comments that have suggested #RogueOne will be a much darker interpretation of the #StarWars universe. Referencing the themes running throughout Gareth Williams's spin-off, he said:
"It is a film that is in many ways a really great World War II movie, and I loved that about it. But it also has this huge, huge heart at the center of it, and that was the one thing I just didn’t want to discount."
'Rogue One' Will Be Unlike Any Previous Star Wars Movie
While Rogue One's link with the main saga will ignite interest in audiences — the story runs within minutes of the beginning of A New Hope (1977) — its distinction is important. Going down the route of a war movie is interesting, and from the trailers and teasers, it looks like they'll be Star Wars battle in ways we've never seen before — enhanced by Giacchino's score, a man who added an emotional undercurrent to WWII video games Medal of Honor and Call of Duty.
Part of that distinction will be highlighted by the soundtrack, of which Giacchino explains is 95 percent original. The other 5 percent is inspired by John Williams's classic tones, enough to anchor Rogue One within the wider Star Wars universe. On that topic, Giacchino has promised that the opening title sequence will also feel less familiar. He added:
"It’s done slightly differently here because it’s not one of the saga films, it’s not one of the trilogies. It’s sort of its own thing and the whole idea from the very beginning was these should be standalone movies. So it’s going to be a slightly different way to get things kicked off."
There is somewhat of a nervous tension surrounding Rogue One. The reshoots. The late changes of crew. The unknown territory. It's understandable. However, with a release just over two weeks away, the early signs are promising. As with The Force Awakens, the demand for pre-sale tickets crashed ticket websites, while early predictions estimate #JynErso (Felicity Jones) and crew could make between $100m - $150m on its opening weekend.
Rogue One is a story about hope in the face of adversity, of overcoming extreme odds. Although the project may have had its fair share of hiccups, like its lead characters, it could surprise a few people come its release. And, as Giacchino says when asked how audiences will feel when the music begins:
"I think you’ll feel at home."
Are you concerned with 'Rogue One' production troubles?
(Source: Entertainment Weekly)