The final scene shows Darth Vader at his most terrifying as he disposes of faceless rebels with the effort of swatting flies. It’s a powerful scene, and the desperate ploy of the rebels is heightened with the addition of Michael Giacchino’s score. As some fans have discovered since Rogue One’s release last month, there’s a bit of Star Wars’ most iconic theme music woven into the track “Hope,” as Twitter user @bobbyrobertspdx broke down.
“The Imperial March” may not appear until Empire Strikes Back, but its link to Vader–even in a scene that falls right before A New Hope—is almost as iconic as his breathing noises.
According to Frank Lehman, an assistant professor of music theory at Tufts University, the “Imperial March” might be more of a citation due to the theme’s iconic nature in the films and “musical fan service.”
“Giacchino smartly reduces the Imperial March down to its harmonic skeleton for the choral version that appears when Vader cuts down the Rebels,” Lehman wrote in a footnote expanding on the theme. “Because of this act of compositional deconstruction, the sequence’s score falls more on the side of use than mention.”
If the “Imperial March” is part of “Hope,” we’re certainly curious about what else we missed in the rest of Rogue One’s score.