On the Relationship between Film Director and Composer, Part 1.
Mr. Kubrick, is it right for a director to use preexisting music on his soundtrack -- not as source music, but as underscoring?
This is a question I have been thinking about for a long time. If you had asked me two years ago, I would have answered, no. If you had asked me one year ago, I would have answered, yes. Now I consider the answer to be a little more complicated.
Stanley Kubrick is, without doubt, the best example. Most of his films are not only famous for the unique Kubrickian quality of their iconic images, but also for their soundtracks; Kubrick usually sets his films to classical music, occasionally seasoned with an original score. Using this way of assembling a score can be quite unfair for both the composer of the preexisting and the composer of the original music. On the one hand, the composer of the preexisting music might not agree with his works being ripped off and out of their usual context and used in a scene which has nothing at all to do with them. On the other hand, the composer of the orginal music has to endure the often thankless experience of, in the words of composer John Adams, "sharing the bed with one of the Large Guys". Alexandre Desplat, for example, is a truly wonderful composer. But even the most wonderful contemporary music usually loses much of its splendour when it is combined with Beethoven's Emperor Concerto and 7th symphony. (I use "The King's Speech" as an example because it is mentioned again below.)
And directors have a habit of being unfair towards their composers. This is understandable if you consider the average director of today. Can a guy like He-Who-Likes-To-Blow-Up-Stuff have appreciation for the fine arts? Of course not.
I could go into the depths of difficult director-composer relationships, but as I am composer myself, that would be too painful for me. As Jörg Widmann has remarked about showing your compositions to someone else: "This moment is a very intimate moment, a moment of great vulnerability, when you sit there together with someone and show the innermost you feel inside yourself." I believe that no artform shows the inner self of the artist as openly as music, because in literature, cinema and painting and all the other arts, the artist essentially shows something from the outside, an arrangement of objects from the real world, the world inhabited and perceived by everyone. Of course, it is always the composer's decision what he shows of his inner side, and, like Stravinsky, I believe that music is essentially completely abstract in nature. But why should the human soul not be of a completely abstract nature?
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"Fibonacci's Dream" by Martina Schettina
Fortunately, the respect for film composers has grown over the years. Directors now speak of them with great admiration. Composers like Hans Zimmer (who is one cool cat!) are popstars; and becoming the next Zimmer or the next Elfman is the dream of many young musicians who would have dreamed of rock'n'roll and drugs only thirty years ago. Look at Elfman. A man with a fascinating life story, having started as a Heavy Metal guitarist and matured to become the composer of this great, great work of art called "Serenada Schizophrana".
Part II soon to come.
Hate the Sherlock Holmes film, though.
 


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