Composer Alexandre Desplat Talks Scoring Kathryn Bigelow’s ZERO DARK THIRTY; Says the Film Is Like a Japanese Kurosawa Movie

     November 9, 2012


As we move closer to awards season, one of the more interesting films coming up is director Kathryn Bigelow’s drama Zero Dark Thirty.  The film documents the decade-long hunt for Osama bin Laden, culminating in the now-famous SEAL Team Six operation.  The production has been shrouded in a massive veil of secrecy given the sensitive subject matter, but it’s expected to be a major awards player given that it serves as Bigelow’s follow-up to her Best Picture-winning The Hurt Locker.

Steve recently spoke with the incredibly talented (and prolific) composer Alexandre Desplat about his work on the upcoming DreamWorks Animation film Rise of the Guardians (you can click here for Steve’s thoughts on the movie), and Desplat took a moment to talk about his unique score for Zero Dark Thirty and what he thought of the film.  Hit the jump to see what he had to say.

zero-dark-thirty-jessica-chastainDesplat revealed that he stretched himself to craft something wholly different for Zero Dark Thirty:

“Well it has nothing to do with any of these other scores, which of course was a challenge for me to do something very different.  It’s a war movie about two parties killing each other, so I wanted the score to be very archaic and dark.  It’s never brutal because it doesn’t have to be loud.”

He went on to talk about the film’s tone and the instruments he used while recording:

“I know it sounds like an action film, but it’s more like a war movie in the tradition of Akira Kurosawa.  Powerful and archaic.  And the way I approached it was very organic and I used a very strange orchestral lineup for the recording at Abbey Road studios.  I decided not to use the instruments of a higher range and wrote the score for 12 horns, 12 trombones, 3 tubas, no violins, 12 Violas, 12 celli and 12 basses.  It’s a very strange sound, very deep, very dark, but as I said very archaic as if the sound was coming from 2000 years ago.”

Finally, since the film has yet to screen for anyone publicly, Steve asked Desplat for his personal thoughts on the pic:

“It’s the best thing that she has ever done.  It’s fabulous; she’s a master director.  She’s a genius, it’s a film that’s incredible.”

Look for Steve’s full interview with Desplat closer to the release of Rise of the Guardians.  Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty opens in limited release on December 19th before expanding nationwide on January 11th, 2013.


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