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CT The way Vader's voice changes in each film & James Earl Jones' performance

Discussion in 'Classic Trilogy' started by BigAl6ft6, Mar 15, 2013.


Which one is your fav

  1. ANH voice

    5 vote(s)
  2. ESB voice

    44 vote(s)
  3. ROTJ voice

    9 vote(s)
  4. The random JEJ lines plopped into subsequent re-releases

    2 vote(s)
  1. BigAl6ft6

    BigAl6ft6 Force Ghost star 6

    Nov 12, 2012
    I really don't know how/why this happened, it's not as if James Earl Jones' voice changed that quickly, but I think he was performing it differently in each film and they also maybe tossed some different FX at Jones' voice each time around. But he kinda almost sounds like a different guy each time around. Only direction I heard Jones' ever mention was Lucas told him in ANH that Vader was supposed to sound like an emotionless robot but, really, if you listen it's actually fairly expressive for the most part "You are PART of the REBEL ALLIANCE AND A TRAITOR". On the flipside "I find your lack of faith disturbing" is a very unemotional line-reading. Actually, now that I think about it, Vader almost seems to sound less emotional as ANH goes on (maybe it took a few line readings for JEJ to get into it.)

    I think his best performance in the role is ESB, just because he's basically just angrily growling every single line, and the there seems to be less FX on his voice, it doesn't sound quite as hollow. But basically Vader in ESB sounds like he's about a hair away from decapitating anyone within range with a lightsaber just for looking at him sideways and it works great. (you can really tell the difference in ESB when they drop in a few lines that weren't in the original. "Alert my Star Destroyer to prepare for my arrival." does not sound anything like his way-angry and cooler "Bring my shuttle" growl from the original. "How is that possible" in the Emperor scene sounds very different from all the other lines in that scene.) The only time, and rightly so, that he sounds anything other than angry is at the end in the "I am your father" bit and overall Jones' reading of that scene is very powerful, lots of layers. Still the growl is there "rule the galaxy as FATHER and SON" and it works because, at that point, the monster is becoming more human and hearing THAT tell Luke he's his father just warps things. In a good way.

    ROTJ sounds way, I dunno, hollower, deeper, kinda like he's really speaking from the bottom of a scuba tank. You could make the argument, and probably win, that this is the most emotionally complex vocal performance that Jones' has in the series but it doesn't sound all that much like he did a movie ago. The growl is basically gone, which is probably my favourite bit about in ESB. But Jones manages to put some depth in the proper places in ROTJ and Vader's performance is better for it. It may not be as scary but there's a soul in there. I'm just surprised it sounds so different from ESB.

    This isn't a bag on JEJ in the slightest, the guy is the bee's knees (hell, I even like how he manages to interject a quivering voice into one of his few lines in ROTS) but I've always noticed that his voice is different in each of the OT flicks.

    So, just for fun, what's the real-world explanation why this happened and what's the in-universe explanation as to why this happened?

    If you think Vader sounds exactly the same in all 3 movies, please, disregard my ramblings.
  2. Vthuil

    Vthuil Force Ghost star 5

    Jan 3, 2013
    The real-world explanation is pretty obvious, I'd think - Lucas's changing concept of the character.
    SateleNovelist11 and ZodaEX like this.
  3. Orochi Oni

    Orochi Oni Jedi Knight star 2

    Mar 8, 2013
    I prefer the ESB/ROTJ voice. They both sound the same to me.

    On a similar subject. Anthony Daniels' voice is different in both trilogies. C-3PO's voice sounds much more camp in the PT.

    Let's not mention Palpatine's voice in ROTS...
    SateleNovelist11 and Aaronaman like this.
  4. Iron_lord

    Iron_lord Force Ghost star 8

    Sep 2, 2012
    Vader's voice can sound softer in ESB as well: "Perhaps you think you're being treated unfairly"

    similar to RoTJ's "Perhaps I can find new ways to motivate them."
  5. darth_mccartney

    darth_mccartney Jedi Master star 4

    Jul 3, 2008
    ROTJ. The voice is deeper, more guttural. I wish they'd sort out the ANH voice cos that sounds awful. Another reason ANH is my least favorite of all the SW films!
  6. Klingon Padawan

    Klingon Padawan Jedi Youngling star 1

    Mar 5, 2013
    I agree. His voice sounded the deepest in ROTJ.

    It's probably because of the recording effects that his voice sounded the way it did in ANH. ANH was the earliest movie, so I wouldn't expect it to have the best sound.
  7. Iron_lord

    Iron_lord Force Ghost star 8

    Sep 2, 2012
    That said, it gets deeper as ANH progresses.

    Particularly noticeable "This will be a day long remembered- it has seen the end of Kenobi, it will soon see the end of the Rebellion."
  8. Seagoat

    Seagoat PT and Music Section Dictator star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jan 25, 2013
    Lol @ the fact that "Random lines inserted in the SEs" is up there, but his lines in ROTS are not. Didn't he have more dialog there than the what, 3 lines that have been added in the OT?
  9. Garrett Atkins

    Garrett Atkins Jedi Knight star 4

    Feb 11, 2013
    jaqen, thejeditraitor and Death T like this.
  10. drg4

    drg4 Jedi Master star 4

    Jul 30, 2005
    As is the case with every other element, ESB wins top prize.

    "Your destiny lies with meeeeeeeeeeee, Skywalker!"

    Explanation: Vader's been reading Milton, and sets out to become the gosh-darn scariest Satanic villain of the galaxy.
  11. BigAl6ft6

    BigAl6ft6 Force Ghost star 6

    Nov 12, 2012

    Tru dat.

    Yah, I'm off the opinion that by the end of the recording session, which was probably done in sequential order, James Earl Jones had decided as to how to play the character but they were already finished. His voice basically goes down an octave by the time they reach the third act. "The Force is strong with this one."
    Thought about it but, y'know, OT forum...
  12. CT-867-5309

    CT-867-5309 Force Ghost star 6

    Jan 5, 2011
    Well, they definitely added some electronic effects to his voice in both ANH and ROTJ, but I've seen different reasons sourced.

    I like to think the changes in his voice reflect the changes in his emotional state, just like the rest of us, but technically since his voice is not really his own, it's being projected by a machine, shouldn't it sound pretty much the same all the time? I guess the technology might be sophisticated enough to recognize varying emotional states.

    In ANH, his voice is much higher than it actually was in real life. It definitely has an electronic tuning to it that I believe was done to make it sound like he was talking inside of a mask, which of course the character actually was.

    The way I like to see it, in ANH his voice is much higher because he's much more angry. He's in an absolute rage on the Tantive IV. "Commander tear this ship apart until you've found those plans, AND BRING ME THE PASSENGERS, I WANT THEM ALIVE!" When he chokes Motti, I think he's actually sorta restraining himself and the anger is cracking through his voice, making it higher. When he's dueling Kenobi (now I am the master), again I think the anger, the fuming resentment of Kenobi is there, he's just keeping it in check, unlike their last confrontation.

    A lot of men's voices start getting higher as they get angrier, it really stands out when it's coming from a hyper masculine dude, like a Mike Tyson or something, or someone with a really deep voice, like JEJ. Sometimes even the most masculine dude gets so angry they're on the verge of crying in mid-scream.

    ESB sounds the most like JEJ's natural voice, with the least FX. He doesn't sound as angry as he did in ANH imo, he sounds very cold and ruthless, though I think there's anger simmering underneath the surface that gets projected at innocent bystanders like Imperial officers.

    When he's says "He's as clumsy as he is stupid", it's more impatience and frustration than rage, but the anger breaks out a bit with "General Veers!", because now they need to clean up Ozzel's mess. "Apology accepted" is pure ice. His dealings with Lando on Bespin are very calm and cold, casual really. "Perhaps you feel you're being treated unfairly?" During most of his encounter with Luke, he has a very calm manipulation going. There's not much emotion in his voice until near the end, when he snarls when Luke lands a glancing blow, and when he dials the hammy emotional appeal up to 11 afterward.

    In ROTJ, the first thing that comes to mind is how messed up "you may dispense with the pleasantries" sounded. I don't know if that's supposed to be Vader sounding more mechanical and sickly, or if it was just a technical flaw. Later, JEJ pours on the pathos with "Obi-Wan once thought as you do" and "It is....too late for me, son." Then you have the terribly pathetic wheezing after he gets fried. For some reason his last few words in the mask, "help me take this mask off", sound as deep as ever, perhaps to emphasize the mechanical aspect before the human reveal.

    Personally, I thought JEJ's voice acting, not just his voice, was brilliant.

    Disclaimer: All of my observations stem from pre-Special Edition versions.
    SateleNovelist11 and BigAl6ft6 like this.
  13. Aaronaman

    Aaronaman Jedi Knight star 4

    Mar 12, 2013
    I have always just 'heard' Vader when watching the OT and except for hearing the different tones to his voice used for dramatic purposes I've never even noticed his voice did change....I'll have to watch them again (like I needed a reason to haha) and take more notice.
  14. I Are The Internets

    I Are The Internets Force Ghost star 8

    Nov 20, 2012
    Maybe Vader was going through Sith Puberty? His voice would randomly squeak while being very low and menacing in between ROTS and ANH.
  15. Jedi General Gelderd

    Jedi General Gelderd Jedi Master star 5

    Mar 6, 2004
    Hmm, never noticed this myself either! Maybe the concept Lucas had for Vader, as this corrupted, cybernetic machine changed with the success of 'ANH' and he started to really go into the concept of underneath the mask lies a real man, broken and kept alive by the machine he lives in, but still you can hear the man inside, with his growing emotion and feelings which help bridge the connection between him, Luke and the Emperor. So perhaps this was the motivation more for GL and JEJ to make Vader more than he was in 'ANH'.

    But on hearing his voice, nothing really sounded different to me, but I agree in 'ESB' he is certainly more angrier and growly! A very p***ed off Sith Lord during that film! [face_skull]
    BigAl6ft6 likes this.
  16. Among the Clouds

    Among the Clouds Jedi Grand Master star 4

    May 18, 2001
    Vader was pissed. The Death Star plans had been stolen, and his ass was on the line if Palpatine found out. The only other time we hear him that angry is in ROTS when Palpatine tells him that he killed Padme.

    What, you didn't know Vader's favorte movie was Pirates of the Caribbean?

    "Alert my Star Destroyer to prepare for my arrival" was recorded during ANH, and then for the SE, they tried to blend it into the way Vader sounded in ESB. As such, it sounds different than the way he speaks in the three OT films.
    SateleNovelist11 likes this.
  17. kegs202

    kegs202 Jedi Knight star 2

    Jan 26, 2013
    I've always noticed the voice changes from film to film but didn't want to mention it in case anyone thought I was being a bit too geeky !!
    I love the vader voice in ESB & ROTJ but it could definitely do with some tweaking for any future release of ANH.
  18. Bobatron

    Bobatron Jedi Master star 4

    Sep 3, 2012
    It has to do with the lines Vader is delivering, the emotion of the scenes, and his state of mind. He is more grandiose and confident-sounding in ANH, almost cocky. He is actually at his peak of being the feared evil Sith Lord Darth Vader. This is how he was for twenty or so years, at least since he settled into his suited version.
    Then he gets outmanuevered by a kid in whom the Force is strong...who happens to be the son he didn't know existed. Very complicated, and Vader starts to get calculating to try to figure out how to get to Luke and bring him to the Dark Side without the Emperor's knowledge. This makes him less patient with those under his command as their incompetence makes his goal more unlikely to attain. He starts probably started doing more meditating and is in his head more. It's been three years of this. The way he now talks is fitting (and Irvin Kershner might have helped direct it this way to fit the overall tone of the film. This is one reason why "bring my shuttle" is so much better and fitting than "alert my Star Destroyer to prepare for my arrival."
    In ROTJ, Vader has just about given up after his failed plan, and is hindered by the Emperor's close observation of him, knowing he is suspicious of him. ("I wonder if your thoughts on this matter are clear.") He also sounds "different" because when meeting Luke on Endor, for the first time we actually see him have a normal conversation with someone. Lines in the other films are more concise statements, orders, and responses. Here he is actually having conversations with Luke as well as the Emperor on the Death Star. It just sounds different.
    Anyway, why can't people just accept all these fluctuations rather than wish they could get "fixed" for a uniform sound? Jeez, this is what bugs me most about STAR WARS since the Special Editions in the first place. Never before that did people think about changing movies but since they just dismiss anything as a reason to change it.
    BigAl6ft6 likes this.

    DARTHSHAME Jedi Master star 4

    Dec 19, 2003
    To me the ESB portrayal of Vader is the best in all aspects. When I hear "The Force is with you young Skywalker, but you are not a Jedi yet" I get goosebumps. It is Vader at his most menacing and JEJ delivers the line perfectly.
    DealAlterer and JawaShuffle like this.
  20. Chainmail_Jedi

    Chainmail_Jedi Jedi Padawan star 2

    Jan 26, 2013
    I would sell my soul to Satan if it would make me sound like James Earl Jones.

    That's awesome his voice is. In every single movie.

    Except for a certain exasperated "nooooooooooooooooo" in certain movie
  21. BigAl6ft6

    BigAl6ft6 Force Ghost star 6

    Nov 12, 2012
    Wow, factoid fun! Didn't know it was a re-purposed ANH line. When I heard that in 1997 I thought "Man, they went and grabbed James Earl Jones for that one line? That's dedication."

    Yeah, I can see it from a point of view that he's just generally angrier about the whole situation in ANH. I think he sounds really ticked in ESB too you're totally right there is that smoothness to his voice as well. ROTJ may not have that layer of menace in ESB but there is definitely more sympathetic emotion in his voice throughout. I do agree that his "you may dispense with the pleasantries" sounds a bit jarring due to the FX used on it or something, esp. if you've ever watched ROTJ right after ESB, which I've done more than a few times. Takes awhile to get into it and while I'd say it definitely sounds different from ESB, it's great in it's own way. And you're right, that pathetic wheeze, combined with that high-shot of Luke cradling him after he tosses the Emperor, works really well because he looks like a broken machine-man. Just the way his body is positioned, plus the high angle that makes him look small, takes this terrible villain and, in that single shot, reduces him to the broken human being that is actually inside of the outfit.

    Yeah, I like the idea that Vader was so irritated by his defeat in ANH, after ridding high as a Sith Lord for 20 years, that its' really started to bother him. Even as Anakin Skywalker, he kind of wore his emotions on his sleeve, so I can see the Death Star getting blown up from under him, and being obsessed with finding young Skywalker and all, that it kind of messed him up so it comes through in how his voice sounds. He went from loving being evil to just being very consumed with rage constantly. And in ROTJ, Anakin Skywalker is conflicting with the Darth Vader of it all, so he sounds more emotional.

    It's entirely possible that the reason he sounds different is just cuz the filmmakers were trying different things with the character and vocal FX each time at the bat, but it actually fits into the place where Vader is at emotionally in each of the three films. And the fact that we're talking about emotion from a character that is literally just a mask and body language is really a testament to Jones' performance that it can go so far within a character that is basically limited to being the all-consuming bad guy.
    lbr789 and Seagoat like this.
  22. King Terak

    King Terak Jedi Padawan star 1

    Nov 22, 2012
    I was stuck between ANH & ROTJ, but ended up choosing the latter. He just seemed to channel both Anakin and Vader's conflicted vocals perfectly. ANH was my #2, mostly because it reminded me of Hayden's frustrated tone in ROTS. ESB was ok, but each is there own, lol.
  23. Bobatron

    Bobatron Jedi Master star 4

    Sep 3, 2012
    I wish there was video of James Earl Jones reading Vader's lines in the recording studio.
    The Exogorth likes this.
  24. OldSchoolFan

    OldSchoolFan Jedi Padawan star 1

    Apr 6, 2013
    Exactly my sentiments, when Vader says that line the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, and they still do all these years later. TESB is definitely Vader's film and James Earl Jones captures the evil of Vader perfectly. Lines such as ''Apology accepted, Captain Needa'', ''We would be honoured if you would join us'', ''There is no escape, don't make me destroy you'' etc still chill me to the bone cementing Vader at his very best in this film.
  25. Carbon1985

    Carbon1985 Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 23, 2013
    I always thought that the guy from the old 7-up Commercials "Crisp and Clean and no Caffeine" was the voice of Vader in the original, and James Earl Jones did the sequels, because the original Vader is a much different tone from the sequels Vader. I guess I was too young to just check out the credits at the end of the movie back then, until someone told me in the mid 80's James Earl Jones did all 3 movies.