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Published March 21 2013

Benshoof: What’s March Madness without the marches?

FARGO – March Madness kicked off this week, as if you needed any reminding.

Lately, it’s all everyone’s been talking about – who’s going to win, how much American worker productivity is going to suffer because of it, what exactly is that mascot for St. Louis University (a “Billiken”), and on and on.

I’m just as interested in the tournament as any other casual basketball fan, but I think there’s a part of March Madness that everyone’s overlooking.

Namely, the marches.

Yes, I’m talking about the musical genre with a brisk tempo and strong rhythm that’s usually performed by marching bands.

NPR has been carrying the “march awareness” torch lately with its “Marches Madness” feature, examining some of its writers’ favorite marches.

The problem with NPR’s version, though, is that the marches they’re featuring are fairly obscure and esoteric.

Typical NPR.

So instead, I dug deep into cinematic history to come up with four movie marches that you’re likely to recognize. Then in standard March Madness fashion, I paired them off against each other to pick the best.

Without further ado, here are the four songs that punched their ticket to the Big Dance this year:

First up, “The River Kwai March,” composed by Malcolm Arnold for the classic film “The Bridge on the River Kwai.” Its opponent is “Superman March,” the main theme from the Superman franchise, composed by John Williams.

The other matchup features “The Raider’s March,” otherwise known as the Indiana Jones theme, which was also composed by Williams. It’s pitted against “The Imperial March” from “Stars Wars, again courtesy of Williams,” who appears to have a bit of a monopoly on the cinematic marches.

Tough call in the first game, but the underdog advances. “Superman” is great, but once the catchy whistling tune from “Kwai” gets in your head it’s hard to get out.

The second matchup is a bit of a barnburner, but “The Imperial March” moves on. To borrow some March Madness clichés, the song has a good pedigree, plays an exciting brand of music and can really light up the speakers.

OK, maybe I’m getting a little carried away here.

In the finals, “Kwai” puts up a good fight, but is eventually a one-and-done and bows out of the tournament. “The Imperial March” wins my bracket as the best march in movie history.

I’ve never really been one to pick against Darth Vader, after all.

This is thrilling stuff, right? Who needs the basketball version of March Madness?

That being said, I’ll be out of contact until Monday if you need to reach me for some reason – I’ll be home all weekend watching basketball.

While listening to “The Imperial March” on repeat, of course.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Sam Benshoof at (701) 241-5535.