Star Wars - The Phantom Menace: The Ultimate Edition


Sony Classics Records, 1999

REVIEW BY: Alfredo Narvaez


I know, I know. There's a whole level of controversy swirling around this little album. And I will get to it. First, let me help those that are not aware catch up.

When plans began in earnest for a new Star Wars movie, one of the things fans were looking most towards was the new music that composer/producer/maestro John Williams would create. After all, one of the elements most loved by movie and music fans around the world were the thrilling pieces and cues and themes that Mr. Williams had created. Think of the "Star Wars Main Theme." Hear it in your head. It's something that everyone remembers.

Finally, in May of 1999, the soundtrack was released. Unfortunately, everyone soon found out that it was not the complete score. Rather, it was the original score pieces that Williams had created. Material like "Duel Of The Fates," "Anakin's Theme" and "The Droid March" was all great. Nevertheless, there was still an hour's worth of material still not available to fans. Many turned to game CDs to compile their own "complete soundtracks." Sony Classical, catching wind of this, then turned around and began to claim that they would soon release a complete and total edition of the soundtrack. Their ads claimed that it would contain all of the music John Williams wrote for the movie. "Every note" their webpage toted. Then, this album was released.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

To be honest, every note that was in the movie is to be found here. However, this "Ultimate Edition" does NOT contain all of the music Mr. Williams wrote for the movie. You see, as director George Lucas continued to cut and edit the movie, musical pieces and sections were re-edited, looped or just removed from the final music score to better fit the movie's action. It is this final musical score that Sony Classical released as its "Ultimate Edition." And the fans have been yelling foul since.

Why? Because those edits, loops, and (most importantly) missing pieces of music tarnish the beauty of the score. It's like hearing "Stairway To Heaven" looped and edited. Yeah, you're hearing "Stairway," but it isn't the true song. What made it even worse was the erroneous advertising by Sony Classical. If they had been upfront with everyone, perhaps there wouldn't be that many fanboys ready to storm the Sony keep.

So, is the "Ultimate Edition" worth its price? While much of the music here is in its final state, it is still a pleasure to hear many cues that had, until now, not been available, like the opening cues aboard the Trade Federation ship. Hearing the "Star Wars Theme" blast out of nowhere-as the Jedi attack-instantly puts you into the action and sounds great. Material like "The Freeing of Anakin" - with its soft and sad music-or "Rescuing the Queen"-which is full of action and tension - just further shows how Williams was scoring this movie. The feelings of otherworldliness heard on cues like "The Street Singer," "Inside The Bubble City" and "Mos Espa" display the richness and depth of the score. It's a shame that it got cut this way.

If you have yet to get any of the Episode I soundtracks and are debating which one to get, get this one. If you have the single CD release, that one will do-for the most part. However, if you absolutely, positively, MUST have this album, then go ahead. It is not a bad score, by any means. Here the fault lies not with the artist, but with the persons who did the cutting. And with Sony Classical for not releasing the full score - which they have and which you know is coming within a year or two. Other Williams' scores have gotten the full re-release treatment ( Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, Superman). I'm guessing this one eventually will. But it's a shame they can't seem to get one of these Star Wars soundtracks right the first time.

The music here is A. The presentation is D. Therefore…

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


© 2001 Alfredo Narvaez and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Sony Classics Records, and is used for informational purposes only.