One of the many successes of Rogue One was Michael Giacchino’s exceptional soundtrack. The entire score remains a joy to listen to, but no track embodies this success more than the stirring Guardians of the Whills Suite.
Giacchino had the unenviable task of being the first person other than John Williams to score a Star Wars film; no mean feat. It’s to his credit that the rich soundtrack is a welcome companion piece to Williams’ musical world that still manages to build its own identity.
The Guardians of the Whills Suite illuminates the idea of the Whills, a canonically unexplored area of Star Wars lore related to the Force. The tender opening evokes the mystery of Williams’ Force themes for A New Hope (that entire soundtrack proving a vital touch point for Rogue One), yet the choir and building orchestra turn this piece into something tragic and new. The glimmering, notes of the end prove a thematic match for the film; the idea that hope is fragile, but powerful if embraced.
As former Guardians of the Whills themselves, one could be forgiven for thinking of this as Chirrut Îmwe and Baze Malbus’ theme. And I can’t help but think it would be fitting, given how much I love those two characters. But Giacchino has composed something of depth that deserves to go further than the single instalment he wrote it for.
The Guardians of the Whills Suite is a theme that does more than just evoke the music of past films – it expresses the very soul of Star Wars.