Scene and Heard: Star Trek Into Darkness – Michael Giacchino

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In Kids Riding Bicycles’ regular series, Scene and Heard, I take a look at great moments in movie music. This feature isn’t just about the particular scene or the music underscoring it, but how the two come together to form a complete whole. First up, is the moment in Star Trek Into Darkness where Spock catches up to Khan high above the streets of San Francisco to bring justice to the maniacal felon.

It’s a fantastic scene for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s a beautifully orchestrated action sequence, with the two leaping across flying vehicles in a fight to the death. Secondly, it’s a tremendous character moment for Spock: a scene that’s been teased since the first film where all control goes out of the window and he confronts his emotion head on.

And finally, there’s Michael Giacchino’s music.

Be under no illusions here, I love Michael Giacchino. Since first hearing his work in the 2009 Trek, and utterly falling in love with the powerful, epic ‘Enterprising Young Men’ theme, I’ve eagerly awaited each and every Giacchino release and snapped it up as soon as it hit shelves. Star Trek Into Darkness was no exception, and I remember hearing a preview of the score on American radio before the film came out.

The preview included the incredible ‘Ode to Harrison’, the theme Giacchino gave to Khan and which (bafflingly) wasn’t released in full until an expanded version of the score came out long after the film. It’s a brilliant piece music, the like of which Giacchino excels at: rich, complex, and focused on driving forward the story and characters. Fittingly for the manic, but somewhat tragic Khan, ‘Ode to Harrison’ is both dark and innocent, a menacing piece laced with the knowledge that the character is as much sinned against as he is sinner.

It plays a critical part in this chase too, but is put to very different use. As I explain in my analysis of the film, Star Trek Into Darkness explores the nature of good and evil, showing that the concepts are universal and can’t be eradicated. As the chase becomes more frenzied and Spock finally catches up with Khan, ‘Ode to Harrison’ comes to dominate the soundtrack, not just showing Khan’s evil (as we’d expect), but also tapping into the latent anger within Spock.

So essentially, ‘Ode to Harrison’ becomes ‘Ode to Spock’ too, with Giacchino’s theme working to finalise what the film has been saying throughout. Good and evil exist within all of us: we must control our darker impulses and seek to bring out only what’s good.

What do you think of this moment and Michael Giacchino’s score for the film? Let me know in the comments.