Star Wars A New Hope – Symphony & Movie

The Force is with them.

This week I was treated to an outdoor, live symphony in San Diego (at the Embarcadero Marina Park South, August 18, 2018) playing to a large screen-film showing of Star Wars: A New Hope.  To say it was spellbinding would be an understatement.

I haven’t seen A New Hope (just called Star Wars, back in the day) on the large screen since the original trilogy’s Special Editions came out in 1997. With the San Diego Symphony Bayside Nights offering monstrous screen outdoor movies set to a live orchestral soundtrack, people have started  flocking to these events in droves. It was as packed last night as it was to their Harry Potter versions last year. And the Star Wars audience was surprisingly into the spirit of the story.

Where did you dig UP this old fossil?

While the audience wasn’t dressed in costume like the Harry Potter symphony goers were ( I was one of the attendees in Hogwarts robes), it was clear people were more-than-normally excited. People laughed at almost every line C-3P0 said, applauded when Han Solo first appeared, shouted AWWWW when Porkins died,  cheered as the Death Star blew up, and gave a standing ovation after the rousing credit themes finished. Besides all the clapping, hooting, cheering, and laughing around me, one nearby attendee amused audiences during the Intermission by roaring like Chewbacca. He was quite good. I can’t even come close.  🙂

Strike me down and I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine. (From a certain point of view.)

It’s hard to describe how amazing it is to watch a beloved movie set to live music. When I could tear my eyes from the screen, I was impressed to see how many string instruments Williams’ score used. He was also heavy on the brass, and light on percussion…although when drums or other percussive instruments were used, they were to magical effect. Nothing sweeps you right along like the Star Wars theme.

After the orchestra members took a bow, it was a matter of inching through the cattle-like foot gates, and waiting an hour to exit the car from the Downtown Hilton parking garage, during which my enthusiasm waned a bit (I recommend Uber for things like this). But John Williams’ iconic score still resounded in my brain. I considered what other movies could inspire enough audiences take the jump from ignoring a “boring” orchestral event, to packing the outdoor grandstand seats and champagne lawn tables for fine arts versions of pop culture immersion.

The Harry Potter movies are a clear success in this format, with eight movies, plus the new Fantastic Beasts versions to choose from. And I suspect they can give it a go for the lineup of other Star Wars films. Other movie franchises with powerfully memorable scores include Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, Superman, ET, and possibly Close Encounters. If I’m leaning heavily on John Williams films, that should be no kind of symphonic surprise. But there are certainly other composers lending themselves to this kind of treatment. Think about The Lord of the Rings saga or Titanic. If there are other movie franchises whose tune you can easily identify offhand, that’s a place to start. And if said movie comes with a fanatical following, well, there you go.

I’m excited for the next time I can hit the symphony for a fabulous science fiction or fantasy film super-experience. It will have to be an annual event!

As a re-watch, of course I give Star Wars an A+, film-wise. Seeing it on the large screen with a superb live orchestra takes the film to new heights. If there was a super-grade above A+ for the live musical option, I’d give it.

Great seats. The Force was clearly with me that night!

 

About the Peetimes:

I didn’t even need to use my Peetimes; the event included an intermission. However, since everyone else in the audience used this intermission as well, clogging up the toilet lines, I should have checked the app anyway. We do have Peetimes for A New Hope listed in the RunPee app, even though RunPee didn’t remotely exist yet, as a sort of retro-cool flashback feature. For fun, you can scroll through the movies on the RunPee app, and peek at what we did.

 

13 Scenes from Star Wars you won’t have missed if you had RunPee

May the 4th Be With You.  Are you celebrating Star Wars Day? Excited yet for the upcoming May 25th, SOLO: a Star Wars Story? You don’t want to miss a single scene in a new Star Wars film, but with the RunPee app,  suffering will not be your lot in life. We’ll tell you when you can sneak out for a quick bathroom break.

To honor Star Wars Day, here’s a list of iconic scenes you wouldn’t have missed if you had the RunPee App. Suffice to say, SPOILERS LIE AHEAD, MATEY. Stop right here if you aren’t up to speed through The Last Jedi.

We will start, of course, with the best moment in cinematic history…

  1. “Luke, I am your Father.” I didn’t see that one coming, but it made total sense once I heard it. People argued Obi-Won couldn’t have been lying, but that turned out to be a misdirect (from a “certain point of view.”) – The Empire Strikes Back
  2. “I love you.” “I know.” From Empire, again. Harrison Ford improvised this line, to make one of the greatest responses to a declaration of love ever (when I got married, it was after such an exchange happened — Yes, fact).  – Empire
  3. When Obi-Won put up his lightsaber, and Vader killed him. Or did he?  We never did find out what happened to his body, nor exactly how powerful he became. Force Ghosts don’t seem that exciting. But it was a cool moment, nonetheless. – A New Hope
  4. When Anakin and Luke both lose a hand – this is a Skywalker thing in middle movies, apparently. Maybe someone will lose his or her hand in The Last Jedi.  Empire, & Attack of the Clones
  5. The Pod Race – make fun of The Phantom Menace all you like, but this is still a fun, exciting sequence, showing how exactly the Force can guide your reflexes. “Yipee!?” Just relax and enjoy the pretty set piece.  – The Phantom Menace
  6. Dual of the Fates – again, from Phantom, we get an indelible scene, where Darth Maul expertly wields a double-ended lightsaber to fight off two powerful Jedi Knights/Masters. It didn’t end so well for Qui-Gon, but the music, the room’s closed shield moments, and the character emotions — all so very raw and powerful. While Qui-Gon meditates, Darth Maul paces like a hungry tiger. It’s a great showcase for one of John William’s  great iconic themes. Go listen to it on YouTube right now – it’s still amazing. As far as the Prequels go, this is as good as it gets.  – The Phantom Menace
  7. When Rey uses the Force to escape her restraints – such a joy to see Rey learn to use her Force abilities, making Daniel Craig’s storm trooper untie her and leave his weapon behind. Funny as sh!t, and crucial to the plot. Yes, please, more like this!  – The Force Awakens
  8. When the Death Star explodes (for the the first time). You know you cheered. I still do. When the Millennium Falcon flies out of the sun and Luke uses the Force to guide his torpedoes, movie magic happens…set to the powerful John Williams version of The Mars Theme. “Whoohoo! Come on kid, let’s blow this thing and go home!” – A New Hope
  9. When Vader sees his son with his “Own Eyes”. Yeah, I kind of cried. So much that needed to come to pass in this epic happened in these few short moments.  – Return of the Jedi
  10. The entire rescue sequence with Jabba. This is great stuff, and the last time we really saw the Original Trio make it work. – Return of the Jedi
  11. The classic Cantina scene. What can I say? Everyone loves it. Nothing really significant happens here, but I would never want to miss this bit. The Force Awakens recreates this scene somewhat at Maz Kanata’s smuggling den, and that’s cool too. – A New Hope
  12. When the original Death Star enters Scarif’s stratosphere for one real reason – to punish Orson Krennic. He’s on the radio tower gangway, looking towards the sky, and sees his own weapon aimed directly at him. Yes. It’s a frightening moment, even though we don’t like Krennic. What a fantastic and iconic scene, with a weapon we really thought we couldn’t be moved by again, after all these years. – Rogue One
  13. The best sequence in Episode 8 by far is the dual fight with Rey and Kylo Ren. I’d already call it iconic. They way those two crazy kids mirror each other reeks of sheer beauty. The final ‘battle’ between Luke and his nephew is sleek too — with a twist I should have seen coming  but didn’t — but not as satisfyingly intimate as the new kids fighting off Supreme Leader Snoke. Like this movie or not, those battle scenes gave us true Star Wars.  – The Last Jedi

What did I miss? Add your favorite scenes in the comments below.

Ranking The Star Wars Films

From Runpee Jilly’s “Certain Point of View “…

Suffice to warn you now, there are SPOILERS ahead, through to Rogue One.

  1. The top movie is easy: Empire Strikes Back. It’s got everything: adventure, humor, romance, solid space action that still holds up after all this time, and outrageous reveals.  I never get tired of watching this one. I couldn’t count how many times I’ve seen it.
  2. A New Hope runs very closely to the number one spot – clipping its heels, as it were. It started the whole mythology and adventure in a well told opening story. It’s almost perfect. But the “official” name, A New Hope, is just lame. This movie will always be Star Wars to me. (And here I show my age. Yes, I was 12 in the theaters for Star Wars, and waited in those huge lines to see it over and over again.)
  3. The Force Awakens – I was so impressed with TFA. I wanted to cry and fly with happiness. It was Star Wars to me, finally! After a long few decades of slogging through disappointment from the prequels, the joyous universe I first fell for was back. The new characters were fantastic, the humor worked, and everything was oh-so-pretty. I’m an absolute fan. While some say – correctly – this is a rehash of A New Hope, I see that as a plus. The fun was baked in, and it felt like coming home.
  4. Rogue One – Unlike the previous movie, Rogue One was not fun, joyous, or happy. I mean (SPOILERS), everyone dies. Honestly, “I had a bad feeling about this” going in (of course no one makes it — we never see them in the OT), but the sad part is that I kind of didn’t care. Jyn, Cassian, Rogue’s ragtag crew…we didn’t get to really know them. The reason this has a 4th place mention is that the story simply works in the Star Wars universe, while providing clues the rebels weren’t as squeaky clean as we’d imagined. And sarcastic, sociopathic K2SO is probably the best droid we’re likely to see. I liked the force sensitive “Space Husbands” (Baze and Chirrut). The Vader fight scene at the end, the desperate pass-off of the data tape, the lead-in to A New Hope: worth the price of admission, right there.  The Death Star destruction sequences were extremely compelling, making that weapon truly frightening in a way the other movies didn’t.
  5. Return of the Jedi – I wish I could place this higher. The cold open of the rescue of Han from Jabba’s palace is pure gold. After that, it starts going downhill fast. Han becomes like an anti-version of himself, Leia is pensive and moody, Luke is inscrutable (and not in a intriguing way). It doesn’t really work, and the Ewoks still piss me off. The jokes are stale, the action sequences middling…but it’s still better than the prequels. Damning with faint praise? …Giving this another thought, I think I would rank the original RotJ in 4th place, and the Special Edition version at 5th. The changes really stuck out in a bad way and dragged this installment down. I still have to think about this. I am sure The Last Jedi will shake everything up anyway, so I’ll just move on.
  6. Phantom Menace – Many people probably list this one last. And to many, it “ruined” Star Wars. I was hugely disappointed with this when it came out. Over the years, though, it’s taken on a nicer sheen. I love Qui-Gon, young Obi-Won was perfect, and there are amazing set pieces. The Pod Race scene is great, Naboo is beautiful, the Padme/Queen storyline was compelling, and the Duel of the Fates scene with Darth Maul is the best lightsaber fight in the entire saga. As for the hated Jar Jar, the terrible Midiclorians, and that poor Anakin kid with the terrible Yippee lines: I learned to ignore them, and just watch the moments that that had the right feel for the SW Universe. It’s a really pretty movie and Liam Neeson’s Qui-Gon is the best Jedi we see throughout the series.
  7. Revenge of the Sith – I honestly don’t remember much about this entire film. Maybe that’s a good thing. I never put it on re-watch. It played like a war documentary…and only felt like Star Wars in the last half hour. But it was a great last half hour, with the long-awaited payoff on the lava planet (Okay, good except for the wretched”Nooooooooo” after “Where’s Padme?”). And the dying from sorrow bit? It doesn’t work that way. I think a lot of people felt RotS made the prequels better. I really don’t think they’re fixable. But then, I grew up with the Classic movies, so I’m just an old fart you can safely ignore. 🙂
  8. Attack of the Clones – This one is mostly dreck. I like the arena fight scene — great set-piece — and the stuff on Camino (the water planet). Coruscant is neat, and the early scenes of fighting on the flying cars — pretty darn cool. But the entire romance was bad. Simply, plainly bad. Bad like sand! I don’t get why Padme is even interested in this whiny child. Who is Dooku, again? What is the plot about? There are clones, there are trade negotiations, and a whole lot of nothing.

I know everyone’s list will be different. Ultimately, any Star Wars is better than most sci-fi out there.

With the The Last Jedi coming out tomorrow (!), I’ll have to shake up my list. I hope TLJ is amazing. Please, be amazing.

I’ll need the new movie to settle in my brain for a while before I can think about the new rankings. MAN, I AM EXCITED. (I’m actually going to dress as Rey. Yup. Certified Geek.)

#NotTooOldForThisSh!t

#StarWarsNight

#It’sATrap