Category Archives: Film Composer

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

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

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

 

 

Announcing the 2nd Annual Remembering James Horner Blogathon

The 2nd Annual Remembering James Horner Blogathon

The time has come once again to honor the memory of the late James Horner, a genius of the film music world who is still sorely missed. Many of you joined me last year for my first ever blogathon and I hope you can join me once again for the 2nd Annual Remembering James Horner Blogathon, which will be held June 23rd-June 25th later this summer.

As with last year, this blogathon will focus on any film that features the work of James Horner. To give you an idea of what this looks like, here are links to the recaps of last year’s blogathon:

Remembering James Horner Blogathon: Day One Recap

Remembering James Horner Blogathon: Day Two Recap

Remembering James Horner Blogathon: Day Three Recap

I am only allowing two entries per film, so if someone wants to write about Titanic, then only two people can use that topic. The sign-up is located here below, I hope everyone can join me in June to honor the memory of James Horner.

Feel free to copy and paste the banner up top to spread the word 🙂

Carter Burwell talks Where the Wild Things Are (2009)

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Carter Burwell talks Where the Wild Things Are (2009)

I was surprised when Where the Wild Things Are became a motion picture in 2009. As a kid, I remember having this book read to me and I enjoyed it very much, but it didn’t seem like the best story to adapt into a movie (after all, it isn’t very long). But to my surprise, the movie actually turned out to be very good. If you haven’t read the book before, the story in brief is about a young boy named Max who sails to a magical island inhabited by oversized monsters. Max makes himself their king and rules over them for a while until he becomes homesick and returns to where he came from. The film expands on this story quite a bit, but the basic elements remain the same.

While Carter Burwell might not be a name as familiar as, say, John Williams, James Horner or Brian Tyler, he has done a fair share of great film scores. He composed several scores for the Twilight series (Twilight; Breaking Dawn parts 1 and 2) and collaborated six times with director Bill Condon. Burwell has certainly done some interesting work over the years.

And the composer has some interesting thoughts to share on the story’s musical score, as seen in the video above. For instance, once Max arrives on the island “where the wild things are”, the composer thought it appropriate to completely change the music from something familiar to something more exotic (like using non-traditional instrumentation). One part involves literally banging on pots and pans to create a musical effect. The idea is that these are things you might literally find on the forest floor on the island. Using non-traditional items to create music is always exciting and I had no idea that Burwell and his fellow musicians had done this to create the music for Where the Wild Things Are.

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

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Danny Elfman talks Fifty Shades of Grey (2015)

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Danny Elfman talks Fifty Shades of Grey (2015)

Let me just start by saying that I am not a fan of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy; not the books or the movies. I don’t like the concept behind the story (did you know this started as Twilight fanfiction?) and it just…*shudders* it doesn’t sit well with me.

That being said…my ears perked up with interest when I discovered that Danny Elfman wrote the score for Fifty Shades of Grey (and he has also scored Fifty Shades Darker). I have been a fan of Elfman’s work ever since I first heard the music for Batman (1989) and I was surprised to hear that he is working on this film trilogy. Elfman isn’t the first composer I would think of when it comes to dark romantic films, but to each his own.

I can’t recommend this film, but it was interesting to briefly hear Elfman’s thoughts on how he put the important musical themes together for this story.

Now I have to ask, for those of you who may have seen Fifty Shades of Grey, did you like it at all? Was it worth seeing? I would love to hear your comments on this film, so let me know in the comments below 🙂

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

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Brian Tyler conducting and scoring Now You See Me 2 (2016)

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Main Theme from Now You See Me 2 (2016)

I have not seen Now You See Me (2013) or its sequel Now You See Me 2, though I have heard plenty about both films. Both films feature a group of stage magicians who use their talents to pull off huge and daring heists. The scores for both films were composed by Brian Tyler, and what I have here is two clips relating to the sequel, Now You See Me 2, which came out last year. The top link takes you to a concert performance of the film’s main theme, which I found very beautiful. I will never stop loving the experience of hearing movie music in a concert environment.

Scoring Now You See Me 2 at Abbey Road

The bottom link comes from a scoring session led by Tyler at the famous Abbey Road studio in London. There is something enthralling about watching Brian Tyler at work; when he is on the podium, you can tell he is 100% into the music.

I know Now You See Me 2 got mixed reviews upon its release, but surely the music was not a part of any problems the film had. I hope you enjoy the recording session and the performance.

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

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