featured tagged posts

John Williams’ Score brings the Western genre back to Star Wars: The Force Awakens

At last! More Star Wars!!

I had waited for that moment for so long. Like most Star Wars fans who watched the original trilogy during childhood – well, in my case, the Special Editions – I always wondered what would happen after the destruction of the Death Star and the death of the emperor. Sure, good times celebrating with the Ewoks sounded fair enough for a child, but as I grew older (and hopefully wiser) I couldn’t help but to wonder how the galaxy would reorganize – outside, you know, the uninteresting stuff that Coruscant’s C-Span would cover…

Star Wars Senate

By the time The Phantom Menace was released, Industrial Light and Magic was allegedly still working on special effects good enough to make it seem like representatives showed up to congress sessions at least in a galaxy far away…

There w...

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Music Sets The Dramatic Pace: John Williams and Revenge of the Sith

Last year I had the privilege of being taught by the renowned composer and producer David Hentschel – yeah, the David Hentschel – when in one of his quizzes I answered that a music composer could in fact alter the pace of a film. Not to my surprise, my answer was marked to be incorrect, stating that while the director, film editor, and music editor – all of whom I had included in my answer – have this ability, the music composer does not. Most if not all technical literature reaffirms this, and the expected answer makes sense: The film composer can nurture the film with different emotions, but the pace is ultimately already there, as set by the director and editors.

Embarrassed that I had “missed” such a simple question, I decided to quickly put together a video to send Mr...

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Alexander Desplat’s Zubrowkan Nationalism in The Grand Budapest Hotel

If you have not seen The Grand Budapest Hotel, go see it now. It is incredibly clever, gorgeous, quirky, and in my opinion Wes Anderson’s best film to date. It is also in my opinion Alexander Desplat’s best score to date, which brings us to our usual question: What makes the score so good? First we will take a look at the setting and the film’s basic premises, and then we will discuss how Desplat reacted to them. Read on…

Welcome to Zubrowka

Since first impressions are always the most powerful ones, let’s take a look at the film’s very beginning. A slide reads:

“On the farthest eastern boundary of the European continent:

The former Republic of

Once the seat of an Empire”

Kind of like the good old “Once upon a time in a land far, far away,” right? Only that “a land far, far aw...

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Machine and Man: Alexander Desplat’s Imitation Game

From the first measures accompanying the film’s titles, Alexander Desplat makes a strong statement about the score and film to come. Machines and men, numbers and human emotion, they all coexist beautifully in The Imitation Game’s excellent score. But how does he do it, and why does it work so well? We’ll dive into that all that soon, all with musical samples that I will play for you. We will talk about leitmotifs to help you understand what I will talk about – similarly to the way in which I explained minimalism when analyzing Interstellar – and then we will look at and listen to some of the themes in The Imitation Game.

Musical Minds

Few things are as attractive for a composer as mind and emotion...

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Outer-Space Minimalism: Understanding Hans Zimmer’s Score for Interstellar

While Interstellar heavily draws inspiration from films like 2001: A Space Odyssey in most departments, its soundtrack takes a much different approach. The grandiose adapted score featured in Stanley Kubrick’s classic space opera – inspiring the sound of Star Wars, the film attributed with bringing the post-romantic orchestra back to its place in film music supremacy – is here replaced by a minimalist approach, one much closer to Phillip Glass’ Koyaanisqatsi than to Kubrick’s masterpiece. The majestic yet often heavy-handed brass chords, virtuosic woodwind slurs, and the heart-pounding timpani, all of which are often associated with space sci-fi films thanks to 2001 and Star Wars, are nowhere to be heard...

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