The soundtrack for the recently released film Joker (starring Joaquin Phoenix) is now available via WaterTower Music. The Joker soundtrack album features an original score by Emmy Award-winning composer Hildur Guðnadóttir (Chernobyl, Sicario: Day of the Soldado), whose composition features the cello as the centerpiece of the score, leading string-based melodies played by a symphony orchestra of 90 musicians.
To interpret the many themes explored throughout the film, director Todd Phillips very early on turned to the composer. “Hildur was writing music as far back as pre-production. I was sending her script pages and she was writing music before we even shot, and what she did for the film is so unique,” says Phillips.
Regarding the soundtrack, composer Hildur Guðnadóttir had this to say:
Todd asked me to write some music based on my feelings from reading the script, which I was inspired to do because it truly resonated with me.” She sent him a sample and recalls, “The film is a gritty character study, which to me translated to melodies that are very simple and monotonic, because that’s kind of the way Joaquin’s character Arthur is seeing things. Then I tried to expand within that simplicity the orchestration around Joker’s evolution not with chords or any complicated music, but with texture that I felt resonated with the melancholia of this character.
Having listened to the soundtrack, I found myself slowly but surely drawn in by those monotonic melodies. The music feels so simple at first, but the more you listen, like in “Defeated Clown” the more you begin to get a sense of nuance. The cello really was a great choice, it’s an instrument with an incredibly wide range, and when it’s paired with the pounding drums, you can just feel the tension pouring out of the music. In one blow the music can leap from melancholy to a burning rage (“Following Sophie” contains a great example of rage in music). In fact, the music intrigues me so much, I’m nearly tempted to see the film to hear this music in context (though I think I’ll wait for the DVD release, I don’t think I can handle this film in theaters).
The point I’m trying to make is, I think Hildur Guðnadóttir has done something brilliant with the soundtrack for Joker. She’s taken very simple melodies and used them to slowly build up a musical impression of how Arthur, the man who becomes the Joker, views the world, and how he feels deep inside. And that’s the key here, you need to remember that the music, in many ways, IS Arthur. It’s mood matches Arthur’s moods (that’s my impression). And it’s so brilliant because, given that this is the Joker, you would think the character would have bombastic and swirling melodies to match. But no, that’s not it at all. Hildur hit on the reality that the Joker’s frame of mind is actually very simple (to him), and the music reflects that. This is definitely one of my favorite soundtracks of the year, and a must-listen for anyone who enjoys movie soundtracks.
- Hoyt’s Office
- Defeated Clown
- Following Sophie
- Penny in the Hospital
- Young Penny
- Meeting Bruce Wayne
- Hiding in the Fridge
- A Bad Comedian
- Arthur Comes to Sophie
- Looking For Answers
- Penny Taken to the Hospital
- Bathroom Dance
- Learning How to Act Normal
- Escape from the Train
- Call Me Joker
Let me know what you think of the soundtrack for Joker, and the film itself, in the comments below and have a great day!
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