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Alexandre Desplat

Alexandre Desplat

Upon watching Roman Polanski’s awesome thriller, The Ghost Writer, I was reminded of a few things. The film itself is a satisfying experience, aided by a few wonderful elements: brooding set design, sterling performances, and an evocative musical score. The last of those three elements belongs to Alexandre Desplat. This is a man who has captured the hearts and minds of film audiences over a short period of time, as he’s delivered diverse compositions that have elevated otherwise tepid feature films (his score was the best thing about The Curious Case of Benjamin Button). Thankfully, in the last year, Desplat has his name associated with films that can leave him proud.

He’s deservedly nominated for an Oscar this year, for The Fantastic Mr. Fox. Desplat’s score for Mr. Fox is similar to his work for Ghost Writer, wherein he’s unafraid to sample various instruments and arrangements in order to serve the narrative of the film. His next score to see American cinemas, belongs to Jacques Audiard’s upcoming prison drama, A Prophet. It’s a busy time to be Alexandre Desplat, and the man himself made a recent stop at the Berlin Film Festival (where The Ghost Writer won Best Director for Polanski). Desplat spoke at the festival, about his process, and The Hollywood Reporter has a recap:

Alexandre Desplat says he lost a year of his life in 2009. The French composer has been working nonstop, delivering scores for films as diverse as Jacques Audiard’s Oscar-nominated prison drama “A Prophet” to “Twilight” sequel “New Moon” to Roman Polanski’s “The Ghost Writer” to Wes Anderson’s animated feature “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” which earned Desplat his third Oscar nomination.

Desplat is in Berlin mentoring up-and-coming filmmakers at the Berlinale Talent Campus, where on Wednesday he will give a masterclass on composing for the screen.

“The main word or formula I would like to tell them is that movie soundtracks have two axioms: function and fiction,” Desplat told THR. “And if there is too much of one, the music goes into the wrong direction. There has to be function, because music for film has to match and work with what is on screen. But if there is too much function it becomes academic, boring. Fiction is there to bring action and creativity. It is a very difficult balance.”

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