Friday, 10 April 2009

Star Wars: A Musical Journey

O2 Arena
10 April 2009

Going over to the Dark Side!

Fans of the Star Wars series will absolutely love watching their beloved 12 odd hours of films condensed into two hours of best bits with John Williams fabulous score played by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with singing from the London Concert Choir.

And those, like me, who aren’t fans of Star Wars will love it for exactly the same reasons!

In my opinion, cutting down 12 hours of ridiculousness to just two can only be a good thing. And as I was assured by my Star Wars fanatic husband that they had cleverly picked out the very best bits to tell the story as well – this kind of proves my point really – that only one sixth of it was ever vaguely interesting, because the story, such as it is, could be told in well under half the time! But, despite this, I’m still not sure exactly why and who they were fighting but Harrison Ford was quite fit when he was younger!

I also now know that Luke and Leia were brother and sister and that Darth Vader didn’t end up as Luke’s dad because he shagged his mum while she was with Anakin in some kind of starry love triangle, I found out that Darth WAS Anakin - still not sure exactly how and this happened though! And there was I thinking he was Dave Prowse the Green Cross Code man – “Feel the Force Luke – and look both ways before you cross!”

Now I’ve got that off my chest, I have to say that this is a very enjoyable way of watching the films, and one that should have been employed from the start! One thing that you can’t deny about the series is the fact that the music is fantastic. And hearing it like this, with the Royal Philharmonic in full view and scenes from the films on the big screen behind them, is not only quite breathtaking, but you really begin to see what a skill it is to both score a film and then musically direct the orchestra. You have to write the right music for the action which then has to be played with exactly the right timing. So whatever I think of the film is actually quite irrelevant as this is probably the one and only time that I have found watching any of it remotely interesting! And the Star Wars fans in the audience - i.e. most of them - absolutely lapped up every minute of it!

Anthony Daniels, aka C3PO, narrates the whole thing, introducing each section and explaining what’s going on (a Godsend for me!) He also lapses into his character occasionally which brought howls of delight from the devotees. (For goodness sake - he's only an actor - he goes to the loo like all of us!) The story is explained using excerpts from the films, not in chronological order (I am reliably informed!) but showing clips from all six to illustrate a point. I found this a great way of telling me what was going on and I did see a chink of the light after only - well - 32 years! Meanwhile the fans found it fascinating - mainly because not only do they go into ecstasy at the smallest clip of the films WHENEVER they see them, here they could show their "superior" knowledge by pointing out which bit was from which film. (Yawn!)

The orchestra plays Williams’ score which has been specially chosen to fit the action on the screen and illustrate the particular mood that that part of the story brings. This was the fantastic part for me, listening to live and loud soaring music whilst watching how effectively it went with the action.

It’s a performance like I have never seen before and never thought I would want to, but in appreciating the skill that went behind putting music behind these iconic films, it was all strangely uplifting! Have I gone over to the Dark Side? Have I seen the light? Well no, not exactly, only a chink in the plot department, but I have learned stuff from the evening that will at least allow me to appreciate something about them in the future. The plot is still rubbish though!

One extra point - being up very high in the Arena I discovered that my new mini binoculars are a real boon! Roll on Michael Jackson!

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