It was a shame that the multimedia spectacle "Star Wars: In Concert" was only in Utah for one night, Friday, because the streamlined film narrative coupled with the rich and rousing score of John Williams proved to be so much more emotionally satisfying than the latter-day three films combined.
The six-film "Star Wars" franchise will forever be categorized in two ways: the revered first three films released between 1977 and 1983; and the reviled latter three films, released between 1999 and 2005.
But "Star Wars: In Concert" interweaves the six films together in a compelling and exciting 90-minute narrative, reminding us again that the story arc is essentially one simple story well-told, elevated by dynamic symphonic music that revolutionized the way films are scored and experienced. Music, rather than stilted dialogue, tells the story.
With EnergySolutions Arena split into a half-circle, a three-story-tall high-resolution video screen was perched above a traveling symphony orchestra and chorus. Fourteen segments from all six films were shown, with interludes between the montages narrated by the witty and charismatic Anthony Daniels, who portrayed the protocol droid C-3PO in all six films.
The video screen told the swashbuckling "Star Wars" space cowboy opera while eliminating confusing subplots like the Clone Wars that cluttered the original films. Fog machines, pyro, steam, lasers and innovative lighting techniques were used well to add drama.
The biggest revelation of the night was Williams' still-stirring Late Romantic-inspired classical score, which ranged from the foreboding four-chord motif of the Death Star theme, the exhilaratingly heroic "Star Wars" theme, to the psychedelic, jazz-inspired Mos Eisley Cantina theme.
There were some problems with the experience, despite acoustic clarity in the arena. While dialogue from the films were limited -- and thankfully so for the latter-day trilogy -- some of the more memorable lines, such as Hans Solo's response to Princess Leia's first expression of love, along with Darth Vader's dramatic revelation to Luke that he is his father, were overpowered by the strident symphony orchestra.
Some technical glitches also interrupted the production, resulting in a blank video screen for several moments and then TV-like static. But all was forgiven as the rebels celebrated the decisive victory over the Galactic Empire.
Multimedia spectacle actually improves the films, especially the latter-day trilogy
When » Oct. 16
Where » EnergySolutions Arena, 301 W. South Temple, Salt Lake City