November 29, 2018 | Paul Richardson
It's not nice to point, Darth.
While screening a film accompanied by live music may seem like a new thing, it is actually as old as film itself. The first silent films were accompanied by versatile pianists, and with larger ensembles as well. Recently, screening modern films with a live orchestra has grown in popularity due to a number of factors, but certainly one of them is the richness of modern movie scores from the likes of John Williams.
But none of that is to say this is easy to do. Pulling off a successful synchronization between the film and orchestra requires exquisite timing – the performance must coincide with the action of the film to within one-quarter of a second, or the lag becomes noticeable.
And, given the high speed of action in many parts of a film like Star Wars: A New Hope, a conductor and orchestra have their work cut out for them. In short: they best not get distracted by stormtroopers...
Yet the payoff is worthwhile. Because with a live orchestra the audience can hear things not have been audible in the movie theater or even at home. And the live music is so close, it is true surround sound... What is more, as one orchestra director noted of the Star Wars films and their noted director: “John Williams makes the orchestra a character in the movie. They make musical effects to highlight the tiniest details.”
Star Wars: A New Hope was the first movie in the epic George Lucas film franchise, and was released on May 25, 1977. It began a "trilogy of trilogies" – nine films about the "forceful" Skywalker clan that take place "a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away." In our time and space, the films will span a total of 42 years when the last one is released in December 2019.
Last week, Constantine Kitsopoulous, Festival Boca's Music Director, conducted Star Wars: A New Hope with live orchestra, just as he will next March in Boca. In this instance the orchestra was the New Jersey Philharmonic, and as luck would have it, Festival Boca team member Eileen Shine was in the audience with three generations of her family. She shares her experience in a fun blog post.
Star Wars: A New Hope will be screened with live orchestra at Festival Boca on Sunday, March 1, at 7:30 pm, and is sure to be a sold out event. So you might want to put down that light saber and reserve a few spots before it is too late.
The fun, original 1977 trailer for Star Wars: A New Hope
A modern trailer when the digital remastering was released.