Film and Music Review: STAR WARS IN CONCERT (Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl)

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by Tony Frankel on August 7, 2018

in Film,Music,Theater-Los Angeles


As difficult as it may be to tear your eyes away from the giant screen at the Hollywood Bowl, try to espy the LA Phil brass section during the climactic battle scene of Star Wars: A New Hope, which plays this week in rep with Empire Strikes Back. Bring your binoculars, because there are no cameras showing players during “The Last Battle,” which sounds better than the 1977 record release of the soundtrack. Under the musical leadership of Twentieth Century Fox royalty David Newman, all the sections are beefed up. Wanna know what eight horns sound like? Wanna hear that bar scene Cantina Band with a whole new groove? Wanna hear how powerfully tender those strings are when Chewie is trying to put C3PO back together? Then feel the force of this outstanding event at the Bowl.

These aren’t the original versions of the movies. Instead they are the “revised” versions done by George Lucas that have significant alterations that were not in the original versions of the films, either making some of the special effects even better, but also adding a key scene regarding that gangster slug Jabba the Hutt, which now explains why such a copious bounty is offered for the capture of Han Solo (the deleted scene with Harrison Ford was later restored and overlapped with CGI for the 1997 Special Edition of the film). An intermission is added for each film, especially necessary for the hard-working players, who practically get no rest for hours.

My only issue is the screen itself above the orchestra: the letterboxed format fits perfectly on the side screens, but not this one. And the captions are super distracting, as we read lines before the characters utter them. Hopefully, the Bowl will invest in those special glasses where only those wearing them can see captions. But the projections are sharp, and the special-effects and stereo sound simply remarkable.

With (fake) laser beams going off all around you, over 17,000 spectators cheer and support each other. It really is a force to be reckoned with.

photos by Dustin Downing courtesy of LA Phil

Star Wars in Concert:
A New Hope & The Empire Strikes Back
Los Angeles Philharmonic
David Newman, conductor
The Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave.
ends on August 11, 2018
for tickets, call 323.850.2000
or visit The Hollywood Bowl

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