After a two-year delay, the sci-fi trilogy concert series comes to its epic conclusion

By: Sep. 25, 2022
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Review: STAR WARS: RETURN OF THE JEDI IN CONCERT, Royal Albert Hall For music lovers, it's the anniversary album-in-full gigs. For bookworms, it's the sneaky extra chapter in the paperback edition. And for cinephiles, it's the film in concert series. This concept travels across the world and lands in a variety of venues, but it's hard to think of a much better location than the Royal Albert Hall; perfectly set up for the sound, and more than enough space for a huge screen to be installed.

The original Star Wars trilogy shows have been a real highlight of the series, drawing in crowds of all ages to hope for the triumph of good over evil.

It actually feels slightly more apt for this screening to be taking place now, rather than in its original slot, as the past two years has seen the UK government march further and further into the dark side; watching the Rebel Alliance fight for freedom in the context of a Britain that has all but outlawed protests is strangely emotional - especially following the recent arrests of individuals peacefully protesting against the continuation of the monarchy.

The Star Wars franchise may be entirely about escapism for some, but you can't ignore its powerful message about the dangers of power and the right to freedom from oppression. If we can't learn directly from history, perhaps we could try learning from films instead.

John Williams' score earned him another Academy Award nomination after the film's release in 1983, and ended up being the shortest score of the original trilogy (coming in at 44 minutes, in comparison with 74 minutes for the first two instalments). By this stage in the film series, many of the famous themes were established - one key example being "The Imperial March", which rings out impressively in the Royal Albert Hall on several occasions.

The film is so engrossing that there's little opportunity to sneak a look at the London Symphony Orchestra during the performance, though once the opening crawl starts fading into the distance there is just enough time to see them in full flow with the film theme music ("Main Title (The Story Continues)"). The Rebel Alliance's foray onto Endor allows for a little variety, with additional percussion instruments being employed - giving it that extra 'woody' flavour, apt for sequences taking place on a forest moon.

As well as the spine-tingling moments that become even more special with the presence of a live orchestra, these events provide audience members with the perfect opportunity to express themselves. Though there were mostly themed t-shirts on display on Saturday afternoon, there was a miniature Darth Vader (with lightsaber) and a very slightly oversized Yoda in attendance; these screenings are celebrations of classic films, and seeing people express their passion for them is almost as fun as watching the film itself.

These are obviously pricey events - and feel a lot more so given the current cost of living crisis - but if there is a film in this series that you particularly love, it is more than worth forgoing some other luxuries to invest in a ticket. Even if you only ever make it to one performance, it is a memory that will stay with you for a long time afterwards. Return of the Jedi turns 40 next year, so this may not be the only opportunity for fans to take advantage of this experience - but at this point in time, who wouldn't want the comfort of hope and a happy ending?

Return of the Jedi in Concert is at the Royal Albert Hall until 25 September

Photo Credit: LucasFilm Ltd/Disney


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