Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Imperial March
One of the best known symphonic movie themes, it is a classic example of a leitmotif, a recurrent theme associated with characters or events in a drama. The Imperial March is the theme music that represents the totalitarian Galactic Empire. As Anakin Skywalker is stripped of all individuality, he, in essence, becomes one with the Empire as Darth Vader. Hence the reason the march is many times associated with him as well. The Imperial March represents all that is the Empire therefore, it is nearly equivalent to a galactic anthem.
Although played by an orchestra on the movie soundtrack, it is often played by brass bands; military bands are particularly effective in delivering the theme's martial stance. The Imperial March was also performed by heavy metal band Rage Against the Machine, Metallica together with the San Francisco Symphonic Orchestra. It was also played by No Doubt at some of their live concerts.
Usage in the Star Wars films
The Imperial March is first heard in The Empire Strikes Back when Darth Vader is re-introduced as the Imperial Fleet assembles. It is used throughout Empire and its sequel, Return of the Jedi. When Anakin Skywalker dies at the end of Jedi, the motif is heard one last time as a distant, melancholy tune on a harp.
In the next film, Attack of the Clones, the Imperial March is played subtly sometimes when Anakin's dark future is hinted at, and then it is played full-blown during the final sequence when the Clone Wars begin.
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