Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was meant to be a standalone film that ties into the events of the main Star Wars saga, hence the movie has plenty in common but is still diverse enough from the Skywalker saga where the art direction and production design is concerned.
The score composed by Michael Giacchino is just one of the ways that Rogue One is able to stand on its own. Giacchino controversially didn’t add an opening title crawl that is accompanied by John Williams’s original trilogy score, like the other films in the saga have done before it. Nor does he go out of his way to just add the identifiable themes, just for the sake of reminding the audience that it is still a Star Wars film, but only subtly when the story called for it.
A video essay by YouTube user ‘Sideways’ breaks down and shows the various homages that the score in Rogue One pays to John Williams’s original masterpiece. The video opens with a comedic assembly of the different Star Wars films opening crawls, the joke being there isn’t anything different about them, and then addressing why Rogue One just begins without any notice.
The rest of the video breaks down all the cool Easter eggs that any fan of the series, and of John Williams can notice and appreciate. While later on, the video begins to break down the more complex observations of certain musical cues made by Giacchino in Rogue One that pay homage to the themes synonymous with Star Wars.
Check out the video below and you may be surprised to see the amount of subtle cues you might have missed, that may make you appreciate the standalone film a little more.