Monday Mar 27, 2023

ESB 20: Neapolitan Emergency (Minutes 96-100 with Star Wars Minute)

Pete the Retailer and Alex Robinson from Star Wars Minute join me to discuss the music and sound in minutes 96-100 of The Empire Strikes Back. Han gets frozen in carbonite! John Williams's dramatic, emotional score moves us through the action. In this episode, we also listen to the original footage from the carbonite freezing scene before music was added.

This episode is also on YouTube: 


  • 0:00 - Hello there!
  • 3:13 - The many actors of Boba Fett.
  • 6:50 - Is this the first time someone says "buddy" in Star Wars? (No.)
  • 13:14 - Threepio = superego, Chewie = id.
  • 17:22 - A subtle Han & Leia moment that's easy to miss (visually and musically). Pan and scan technology.
  • 20:15 - Does the first bar of the Imperial March loop an extra time here?
  • 31:02 - Footage of the carbonite freezing scene before music was added + footage from the original spotting session (!)
  • 41:58 - Breakdown of the music from pre-kiss to post-freeze. (Han & Leia in B => Han & Leia in E => Neapolitan Emergency with Chewie's moans => Dramatic dotted triplets => Wailing Imperial March => Funereal themes).
  • 50:29 - Memorable rhythmic feel of the Neapolitan Emergency (with visuals).
  • 56:14 - Dom, filigree check?
  • 1:02:06 - Cool whistle sound. Ben Burtt's sound design secret.
  • 1:08:53 - Meter discrepancy between the soundtrack and film (2 beats cut out).
  • 1:14:10 - Is this the Imperial February? (No.)
  • 1:19:00 - Night on Bald Mountain-esque chromatic violin line.
  • 1:27:07 - Is this the Imperial February? (Yes. Bespin Dirge theme 1.)
  • 1:34:41 - Bespin Dirge part 2. Delicious chords over C pedal.
  • 1:40:22 - "It's a trap!" with Yoda's theme. What's the significance of that?
  • 1:45:30 - Strings/piano call & response.
  • 1:52:01 - Yoda's theme harmony goes D => Db (instead of D => E).
  • 1:55:38 - Speculating on how the carbon freeze calipers were sound-designed.
  • 2:00:59 - SWMM Questionnaire

Things to Check Out:


  • 9M6/10M1 "Carbon Freeze"
  • 9M6/10M1 "Insert Bar 57"
  • 10M2 "Luke Pursues The Captives"

Musical Themes:

  • Imperial March (Theme)
  • Han & Leia (A)
  • Neapolitan Emergency
  • Bespin Dirge 1
  • Bespin Dirge 2
  • 12a. Yoda (A Section)

Where are we in the soundtrack?:

  • "Carbon Freeze/Darth Vader's Trap/Departure of Boba Fett"


Star Wars Music Minute Questionnaire:

1. In exactly 3 words, what does Star Wars sound like?

  • Pete: Pneumatic machinery sounds. (Previously: Aunt Beru's kitchen. Short wave radio.)
  • Alex: Imperial walker clanking. Elephant on blacktop. (Previously: Majestic French horns. Tchew tchew tchew.)

2. What's something related to Star Wars music or sound that you want to learn more about?

  • Pete: "What is That? with Ben Burtt" (a TV show proposal)
  • Alex: Ugnaught noises.

3. What's a score or soundtrack you're fond of besides anything Star Wars?

  • Pete: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (Previously: The Black Hole and Fight Club)
  • Alex: The Royal Tenenbaums (Previously: Superman and Magnolia)


Star Wars Minute:

Pete the Retailer:

Alex Robinson:


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