Category Archives: Film Composer

Bernard Herrmann talks The Bride Wore Black (1968)

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Bernard Herrmann talks The Bride Wore Black (1968)

Normally when I share composer interviews, it’s for a relatively current film. But when I found an interview for the 1968 film The Bride Wore Black that was given by composer Bernard Herrmann, I just knew I had to share it with you.

The Bride wore Black (released in France as  La Mariée était en noir) is a revenge film directed by Francois Truffaut. It tells the story of a woman named Julie Kohler, whose husband is killed on her wedding day as they’re leaving the church. The crime occurred because five men were horsing around with a loaded rifle in a building across the street and it went off, fatally striking the newly married groom. After learning the identities of the men responsible, Kohler sets out to kill every last man responsible.

The new widow is completely ruthless in her pursuit of vengeance:

  • victim #1 is pushed off a balcony
  • victim #2 is poisoned
  • victim #3 is locked in a small closet where he suffocates to death (she sealed the door shut with duct tape
  • victim #4 would’ve been killed with a handgun but the police arrested him before she could get him
  • victim #5 is shot in the back (fatally) with an arrow as she posed for a painting of Diana, Goddess of the Hunt. After noticing that he’s painted her on the wall in a mural, Julie decides to leave the painting as is, knowing the evidence will lead to her arrest. After arriving at jail (where still-alive victim #4 is also serving time), she ends up working in the kitchen where she is last seen taking a food cart towards the men’s side of the prison (a scream implying she’s completed her task of vengeance).

The music for this film was written by the legendary composer Bernard Herrmann (perhaps best known for his collaborations with Alfred Hitchcock on four of his films, including Psycho). I haven’t found many interviews with Herrmann thus far, so it is fascinating to hear him talking about his work with any film. I admit I haven’t actually seen The Bride Wore Black (not yet anyway), but after watching this interview and reading more about the plot, I definitely need to check this film out.

What do you think of Bernard Herrmann talking about The Bride Wore Black? Have you seen the film? And if you have, what did you think of it? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below, have a great Monday!!

If you’d like to learn more about the film scores of Bernard Herrmann, see here

The 2nd Annual Remembering James Horner blogathon is coming in June, check out the sign up page here

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Brian Tyler scoring Partition (2007)

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Brian Tyler scoring Partition (2007)

Partition is a very sad story, set in 1947 during the partition of India (when Pakistan was created as a Muslim nation). It is based on the Romeo and Juliet story type, where two people fall in love even though it is forbidden. In this case, a Hindu man, Gian Singh, slowly falls for Naseem, a Muslim girl, even though all the rules of their respective religions forbid this.

What makes this film notable for me is that it features a score by Brian Tyler, who is rapidly becoming one of my favorite film composers. This behind the scenes video shows Tyler at work in the studio, annotating his score and recording with a rough cut of the film playing on a screen in front of him. He also worked with the Hollywood Studio Symphony for recording the score as well.

One big thing with the music that Tyler wanted to create is, that while there is a sense of Western music in the score, there is also a frequent callback to the sound of India as well. He wanted to create the feeling that you (the audience) have been transported through time to this very traumatic period in the history of India and Pakistan.

There is something magical about watching Brian Tyler on the podium conducting his music, I definitely need to hear more of this score now. If you’ve seen Partition, I would love to know your thoughts on the film and the score in the comments below.

If you’d like to learn more about the film scores of Brian Tyler, see here

The 2nd Annual Remembering James Horner blogathon is coming in June, check out the sign up page here

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

An Interview with Adam Blau Part 3

I solemnly swear that I planned to have this part posted months ago, but reality kept intervening time and time again. However, I am now happy to finally be able to share with you the conclusion to this awesome interview with film and television composer Adam Blau.

How would you describe your compositional style? More orchestral or electronic/synthetic?

It’s totally a case by case basis, I’ve written for full orchestra, like with License to Wed, which had a jazz, swingy feel for the most part. So we wrote it for a huge orchestra. And the other end of the spectrum then is the electronic stuff that I do for You’re the Worst, it is totally case by case. And with percussion stuff, my first stint with that was for a film called We Are Marshall, and there was also Yours, Mine and Ours as well.

The genre is really dictated by the material and also the budget. I would prefer to work with a live orchestra, but with most tv it is simply not in the cards (except for maybe Game of Thrones which has the budget to do it.)
What’s your favorite genre to work with? Why?

I am happy working in any genre, but I like working in comedies because it allows for working in a lot of ways, I admit I am a huge comedy junkie and I love sitcoms. But these days, if you’re doing comedy, you get to write in a number of genres and run the gamut, because writing comedy can also mean writing in a serious moment or a song, so you can try a lot of different things. One of my strengths has been being able to wear a number of different hats, learning a new genre or figuring out the core elements of a particular style and working in that new style, it’s a fun challenge trying to do that. I also enjoy the collaborative process with comedy as well.
Does one score/project stand out as your favorite?

It’s truly hard to pick a single project that I would call my favorite. I would have a hard time sitting here working day after day on shows that I don’t like so much, so I try to find something enjoyable about the project itself or the music for that project, or the people I work with, or otherwise it’s a long hard slog. But there are some standouts for me, You’re The Worst is definitely a highlight. And the people are just so spectacular to work with as well.

Me: Well thank you so much for meeting with me to talk about You’re The Worst and your work as acomposer

Adam: Thank you!

And my thanks again to Adam Blau for talking with me about his work. Again, my deepest apologies for the long delay in uploading this last part of the interview. You can follow Adam Blau on Twitter @adamblau .

For the earlier segments of the interview, see also:

An Interview with Adam Blau, part 1

An Interview With Adam Blau Part 2

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Hans Zimmer talks Inception (2010)

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Hans Zimmer talks Inception (2010)

I have watched a lot of movies, but few have bent my brain more than Inception (2010), a film set in a world where it is possible to enter the subconscious and “extract” information. Cobb, a “dream thief”, is tasked by a wealthy businessman named Saito to perform “inception” on the son of a rival, which is planting an idea in the subconscious mind, and it is supposed to be an impossible task. The stakes for Cobb are pretty high: he’s been on the run for years after being framed for the murder of his wife (she actually committed suicide), and if he succeeds, Saito will make the charges go away so he can return home to his two children. But…in a world where we enter dreams within dreams within dreams, how do we know any of this is even real to begin with? (That question is never really answered by the way, we’re meant to make our own conclusions).

The score for this reality-bending film was composed by the legendary Hans Zimmer, who returned to collaborate again with director Christopher Nolan on this project (Inception marked their third collaboration together). This brief “making of” video shows how Nolan and Zimmer brought this score into existence. Zimmer described the music of Inception as “a very electronic, dense score, filled with nostalgia and sadness.” What I love best about the score is how it changes as the characters move deeper and deeper into the “dream within a dream.” The deeper they go, the more “unreal” the music becomes; this all reaches a head when Cobb and Ariadne are in Limbo (the bottom level) while the other members of his group are moving through three separate dream levels above them.

If you’ve seen Inception, what did you think of the story? And what did you think of the film’s soundtrack? Let me know in the comments below 🙂 And I hope you enjoy this behind the scenes look at the making of the film score for this film 🙂

If you’d like to learn more about the film scores of Hans Zimmer, see here

The 2nd Annual Remembering James Horner blogathon is coming in June, check out the sign up page here

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Hans Zimmer talks The Road to El Dorado (2000)

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Hans Zimmer talks The Road to El Dorado (2000)

While it wasn’t a big hit at the time, 17 years later there is still a soft spot in my heart for The Road to El Dorado. The story follows two Spanish con-men, Miguel (Kenneth Branagh) and Tulio (Kevin Kline) as they accidentally stow away on the ship of Hernan Cortes on his way to conquer whatever empires of the New World he may come across, and end up discovering the legendary city of gold, El Dorado, where they are mistaken for gods.

(I wrote about one of the film’s songs here)

And yes, I admit, the music has something to do with why I like this film as much as I do. With the orchestral score composed by Hans Zimmer, the music is a blend of Spanish sounds (heard mostly in the beginning of the film) and a “New World” sound that takes over once Miguel and Tulio discover El Dorado. I was delighted to discover a full length behind the scenes look at creating the score for this movie, with thoughts from Hans Zimmer, Elton John (who worked with Tim Rice on the songs) and also Kevin Kline and Kenneth Branagh, the voices of Miguel and Tulio.

With my allergies giving me hell today (and most of the week if I’m honest), I’m going to keep this post a little shorter than normal, but I will say you will enjoy this video. And if you haven’t given The Road to El Dorado a try, I sincerely hope that you give the movie a chance. It has terrific animation and, as I’ve said, a wonderful musical score.

If you’d like to learn more about the film scores of Hans Zimmer, see here

The 2nd Annual Remembering James Horner blogathon is coming in June, check out the sign up page here

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Alan Silvestri talks FernGully: The Last Rainforest (1992)

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Alan Silvestri and FernGully: The Last Rainforest (1992)

FernGully: The Last Rainforest is one of my favorite animated films that doesn’t come from the Walt Disney studio. It tells the story of Crysta, a fairy who lives in the untouched rainforest of FernGully. She is learning to use magic as she will one day be the leader of the fairies. According to their legends, fairies and humans used to be very close until an evil spirit named Hexxus drove them away, presumably to their extinction.

Of course the humans didn’t go extinct, and they’re very close to FernGully even now in the form of loggers cutting the forest down acre by acre. And when the tree containing the spirit of Hexxus is destroyed and the evil spirit is set loose, it’s up to Crysta and her new human friend Zak to stop him.

I absolutely LOVE the music for FernGully, it was composed by Alan Silvestri (of Back to the Future fame) and it will stick with you long after the story is over. One of my favorite pieces from the score is “The Spirit of the Trees” and I hope to talk about that piece at some time in the future. But for now, I have a behind the scenes look at making the overall score that I think you will enjoy.

If you’d like to learn more about the film scores of Alan Silvestri, see here

The 2nd Annual Remembering James Horner Blogathon is coming, check out the sign up page here

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Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country “Main Theme” (1991)

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After Star Trek V: The Final Frontier went FLOP at the box office, it was very nearly the end of the Star Trek films. But the studio managed to persevere and plans were laid to make a sixth film. Initially, Star Trek VI was going to be a prequel, featuring Kirk and co. at the Academy (which later became the basic plot of Star Trek (2009)), but that was scrapped in favor of a final adventure with the original Enterprise crew.

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country “Main Theme” (1991)

Now when it came to scoring Star Trek VI, director Nicholas Meyer had some trouble finding a composer. Jerry Goldsmith was so disappointed after Star Trek V that he currently wanted nothing to do with the project. James Horner felt that his career had advanced beyond Star Trek, so he declined as well. With no other alternatives, Meyer looked to a pile of demo tapes sent in by other composers wishing to work on the project and he ultimately selected a tape sent in by composer Cliff Eidelman, as he felt his music best captured the “spirit of Star Trek”.

Eidelman’s music is a big part of why I love The Undiscovered Country so much. It’s dark, occasionally eerie, and chock full of tension at all the right moments. And the main theme is a perfect introduction to this score. The music plays over the opening credits before the story proper begins and instantly lets you know that this isn’t like the other Star Trek films. Jerry Goldsmith’s bright fanfare is absent, Horner’s beautiful strings aren’t there. What we have instead is a dark motif that will recur throughout the film.

As the credits move on towards the end, the music becomes more and more tense, and it will later come out that what we are hearing is the music from the final battle between Captain Kirk and General Chang. The tension builds higher and higher, until finally the music ends on almost a literal cliffhanger, as the music cuts off just before a huge explosion fills the screen (talk about starting a story off with a bang!)

I really enjoy the main theme of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, it is an underrated gem in the musical canon of Star Trek. I hope you enjoy listening to this theme as well.

For more live action soundtracks, see here

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