Monday Apr 03, 2023

ESB 21: Oedipally Violent Romance (Minutes 101-105 with Takeo Rivera)

Minutes 101-105 of The Empire Strikes Back feature extraordinary drama, peril, romance, and even some lightly comedic underscore. Takeo Rivera (English professor, playwright, performance studies specialist) returns to the show to discuss the score's function as a "warm blanket," Threepio's crush on Lando, the film's romantic aesthetics, and more.

This episode is also on YouTube: 


  • 0:00 - Hello there!
  • 3:54 - Brightness as a space of horror.
  • 6:23 - Is ESB the most romantic Star Wars product?
  • 9:09 - Yoda's theme while Luke sneaks around.
  • 16:20 - Stark sounds and the score as a wonderful warm blanket.
  • 19:58 - Vader at open mic night.
  • 24:49 - Luke strikes first. ("Oedipally violent.")
  • 27:17 - Cloud City is staged like a well-choreographed play. Consequences of digital aesthetic norms.
  • 35:21 - Novel technologies become cliche become the new hegemony. Henrik Ibsen's naturalistic prose dialogue. Fungible packets of music.
  • 48:34 - Start of 10M3 Chewie Chokes Lando. Bespin Dirge themes.
  • 54:24 - Threepio's immediate crush on Lando.
  • 57:17 - "Han" pronunciation and the cadence of languages. An interesting socio-linguistic moment.
  • 1:06:10 - Subtle underscore while Chewie chokes Lando. Does the music empathize with Lando?
  • 1:17:55 - Funereal music accompanying casket imagery.
  • 1:24:22 - Perilous-sounding. Han and Leia theme.
  • 1:25:14 - If Threepio played "F*ck Marry Kill" with Artoo, Lando, and Chewie...
  • 1:31:00 - What makes the strings a "warm blanket?" Strings in the context of an orchestra.
  • 1:36:14 - Musicality of lightsabers.
  • 1:42:49 - Point for Nic Tan (circa 28:50 of ESB 18).
  • 1:43:30 - Kinesthetic aesthetic of the prequels, Wuxia movies, high Hong Kong choreography. Visual vocabulary of epic spectacle.
  • 1:51:52 - Psychology of Vader as a father.
  • 1:58:22 - Powerful Force users shouldn't mix the Force with political power.
  • 2:07:51 - SWMM Questionnaire

Things to Check Out:


  • 10M2 "Luke Pursues The Captives"
  • 10M3 "Chewie Chokes Lando"

Musical Themes:

  • Yoda (A Section)
  • Bespin Dirge 1
  • Bespin Dirge 2
  • Imperials (Ostinato 1)
  • Han & Leia (A)
  • Neapolitan Emergency

Where are we in the soundtrack?:

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



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

  • Sweeping. Sentimental. Heroic.

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

  • Musical vocabulary to describe the things he hears in the score.

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

  • Princess Mononoke (Joe Hisaichi), The Hours (Philip Glass)


Guest: Takeo Rivera


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