We might say it every year, but the 2018 BAFTA Original Music category was an outstanding one. Alongside some huge film releases, it was hard to choose a favourite.
Congratulations to Alexandre Desplat for winning this year’s BAFTA for his score to The Shape of Water. A true masterpiece that’s haunting and magical.
Del Toro’s The Shape of Water is a fantasy romance film set in the 1960s which follows the life of a rather ordinary cleaner at a science facility. Here she forms a relationship with a curious creature held in captivity. As the film progresses, the characters develop a unique bond, starting as simple trust between one another, which develops into something much more. A relationship which breaks the mould of what society views as love.
With all this emotion tied into the film, it’s only right that the music becomes prevalent as certain scenes develop. Desplat’s sophisticated score supports both the physical movement of the camera and the emotion of the characters. The themes and melodies that he creates for the film bring everything to life.
Dunkirk saw the return of Christopher Nolan and Hans Zimmer working together. A proven duo that have already combined their talents on such films as The Dark Knight, Inception and Interstellar. Dunkirk consists of 3 carefully intertwined narratives that inform the viewer of 3 separate stories, all rooted around the evacuation of allied troops from Dunkirk, France, during World War II.
Hans Zimmer has composed yet another memorable score for this film, responding to Nolan’s desire to interweave the different storylines with the music. In doing so, we heard some familiar sounds. By recording the tick-tock of Nolan’s watch that he owned, Zimmer shaped the soundtrack around the classic Shephard Tone technique. We’re invited into the tension, something that makes the viewing experience all the more lifelike.
When the news landed that there would be a new Blade Runner instalment, it’s safe to say that all the fans of the series were excited to know more. Many of us were intrigued about how the score would be approached, following on from Vangelis, who wrote the original score.
The film is visually descriptive and stunning. Zimmer and Wallfisch create an almost biographical audio soundscape of Ryan Gosling’s character, K’s journey. At the beginning of the film, we hear a four-note theme that re-emerges when K makes a discovery, but each has their own unique expansion. There are of course other themes that highlight other actions, but what is really special is how beautifully peaceful the score can be at times. That said, when it ramps up, it really makes you sit on the edge of your seat - incredible!
Read the Collider article on the sound of Blade Runner 2049 with Wallfisch here.
Darkest Hour is another great example of the return of director and composer duo, with Joe Wright choosing Dario Marianelli to score his latest film. Marianelli had previously scored Wright’s films: Atonement, Pride & Prejudice and Anna Karenina, so it was fair to assume that we would be treated to something beautiful.
Dario worked with pianist Vikingur Olafsson, who features throughout the score, and began composing before the script was even written. The score in its entirety holds great pace and momentum, an honest depiction of Churchill’s mind and fast thinking at this time in history.
As with every score that Marianelli writes, this is so rich and powerful that you could crank up the volume, sit back, and listen to it from start to finish.
Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest, Phantom Thread, is set in the 1950s London fashion district, following the life of designer, Reynolds Woodcock, played by Daniel Day-Lewis.
Greenwood’s score masterfully echoes the physical beauty of the garments that Reynolds is crafting. The strings are full and elegant, paired at times with light piano melodies that create a sense of love and romanticism. However, the score doesn’t fit the mould of a textbook romance - at times, it can sound more intriguing, strange, or even sad. This really honours Thomas Anderson’s storyline.
The soundtrack to Phantom Thread saw another repeat collaboration, with Greenwood and the London Contemporary Orchestra reuniting after their previous work together on Radiohead’s 2016 album A Moon Shaped Pool. It was important for Greenwood that his score was lifted by an orchestra, and in tracks such as Sandalwood I and Alma, you can really hear this.