The first time I heard the Resistance March blast out in the skirmish on Takodana, it rubbed me the wrong way. Back when I had studiously blindfolded myself to avoid reading the track titles in the mass-market OST, I assumed the march was for the First Order (incumbent, structured military force). When the X-wings roared out over the lake to deliver a few minutes of sustained kickassery, I was shocked and disheartened by the choice of music: a very straightforward concert suite full of pomp and bombast. This (to me) made the victory seem routine and altogether expected. (It was also quite an ego hit to be totally wrong about my guesses for the music.)
Historically, the “good guys” have always fought hard to win. You can get rousing and heroic music heralding your wins; that’s fine – but my rule of thumb is that if you could reasonably play it in its entirety at a military parade, the cue won’t do for a Star Wars battle.
TLJ to the rescue, as always! The Resistance theme gets a fantastic showing in here.
…in an unreleased cue from the Da’qar battle
The mass-market OST shows off an absolutely crazy transformation of the Resistance theme that I think I’ve written about previously. It translates the duple-meter march into triple time, giving it a swashbuckling drive to contrast with the straight-laced original. I’m not sure where this would have sat in the film, though, but it would have been fantastic on the merits of the music alone.
…in the shot of the bombers sallying forth
The first time we see those clunky old things swing into view to confront the Fulminatrix, we hear the violent opening unisons of the Resistance march. It works for the scene because it’s a grand entrance by these huge, unwieldy beasts called in to save the day. It also takes care not to overstay its welcome as more fitting “action” scoring kicks in.
…in the introduction of Amilyn Holdo
I had to listen carefully for this one. The Resistance theme is transposed (roughly to F major) and given a quietly stirring but optimistic tone as Holdo gives her speech. It’s everything that I would have wished for Giacchino’s Rebellions are Built on Hope and then some.
…twice to open the Battle of Crait
The shot of the Resistance fighters taking their positions in the trenches is underscored with a menacing, ponderous rendition of the Resistance march. It’s good stuff that avoids drawing itself out.
When the mine skiffs go skating out across the salt flats, there’s this gorgeous shot of the dozen-ish craft soaring across the land, facing down a line of vastly more powerful gorilla walkers. The Resistance march kicks in the familiar duple meter, but at a slightly faster tempo than usual (complementing the slower version used moments prior). It’s not exactly straight heroism here – more like saluting the courage to partake of this blind folly, so characteristic of these Resistance types.
This is by no means a complete list; they’re just the ones I can recall off the top of my head (having mulled this over for a few months now). They’re great ones, to be sure!