Composer Alexandre Desplat, known for his work in films such as King’s Speech, Argo And Grand Budapest HotelGuillermo del Toro tries to keep alive the “innocence” and “vibrant heart” of the Pinocchio story in his upcoming stop-motion film, Pinocchio.
Using only wooden instruments such as the violin, piano or harp, he wanted to connect the music to Carlo Collodi’s 1883 novel on which the film was based.
“I think the real key to that is always the emotion, trying to hit Pinocchio’s vibrant heart, and make sure we always feel this innocence that he has,” says Desplat. The Hollywood Reporter. “He doesn’t know anything. But he believes everything. They are very open minded. That’s the beautiful thing about Pinocchio.
Netflix Animation, Jim Henson Co. And the film, produced by Shadow Machine, has been del Toro’s passion project since 2008 and marks his directorial debut in an animated film co-directed with Mark Gustafson. Del Toro wrote the screenplay with Patrick McHale and Matthew Robbins. Del Toro and Desplat have known each other since Del Toro’s DreamWorks days, and they collaborated on Del Toro shape of water
Starring Gregory Mann, Ewan McGregor, Christoph Waltz, Tilda Swinton, Ron Perlman, Finn Wolfhard and Cate Blanchett, the film features original songs written by Del Toro with Desplat and Robben Katz.
Pinocchio It will be released in select theaters on Friday before coming to Netflix on December 9.
Below, Desplat talks THR About scoring the film, working with del Toro and more.
How is your involvement? Pinocchio to start? I know you previously worked on Guillermo del Toro’s 2017 film shape of water.
I knew Guillermo had a plan for a while – one day straight Pinocchio – And suddenly he was ready to go, and I received the script, and he told me, “You see, there are some chapters to be songs.” Not like the actual musical where everybody sings but the chapters where the characters sing and that’s where we started because, you know, these stop-motion films, they take ages to make. If I’m not mistaken, it took them 1,000 days of shooting, so it was a little bit and we started from there. I met Guillermo at the studio. We started fooling around with songs, ideas, characters, which music or which lyrics should convey which character and that’s how it started. Then we brought in my friend and fellow lyricist Roben Katz to work with us on the lyrics. And at some point, we are ready to go with the actors to record the songs. It was [two or] Three years ago, way back during COVID. And the great news is that we have people who can sing. Wonder Boy – Well, he’s not a boy anymore, but [Gregory Mann] It was 10 years at the time with this wonderful and pure innocence – and I knew Ivan was a great musician and Christoph was a great musician, so we were very lucky to have these guys on board. The funny thing is that we recorded them in all of these [different] places.
So it looks like you’re waiting to see the finished film before you start composing the score?
Yes, that’s what I’ve always done: watching whatever movie has to offer, be it animation or live-action, I have to see. I like to see what happened on the set, how the actors move, how they react and interact. The beauty of the production side is always that they are so inspiring. I am often asked where my inspiration comes from. If you sit and look at the tree, it will not come. It can come from sitting there looking at a piece I’m working on and its beauty.
Once you’ve seen the film, what was your process in composing the score? I know you used only wooden instruments for that.
Well, I always tried to find some concept [a film] That I am working. What can be different from this movie to the next and by combining instruments or sounds, you can create the sound of the movie. [In] The Girl with the Pearl Earring, all the instruments are almost muted. in wonderful Mr. Fox, it’s just little instruments, these little little things. And Pinocchio, I thought, you know, Geppetto is a carpenter. From the beginning, it’s about the trees, so let’s challenge it and see how it goes and what happens.
How involved is Guillermo in the score? Did he give you some guidance or did he give you free rein?
Also, Guillermo wrote most of the songs with me, because he was the one who laid the seed for almost all the songs about the feeling we had to convey. And for the score, I think the first thing I played was the main theme, which opens the movie. I played it on the piano for him, and I think he moved, and I thought if Guillermo moved, I must be in the right zone. So we started. And the great thing about this film is that it is never childish or childish; It’s very deep and not just playing for kids. It’s playing for everyone. I say for humans, you know, because there’s a lot of soul in the story Pinocchio And what Guillermo did was even more poignant. Of course, the father-son relationship, it rings a bell all the time for guys, especially when you lose your father. It means a lot, and speaking of inspiration, you go out there and try to link your feelings [that are] Often present what Guillermo is asking you. And, of course, there are many twists and turns in the film, the adventures we know from the book, so there’s a nice, nice color palette and musical colors to explore. But I think the real key to it is the emotion that always tries to strike at Pinocchio’s vibrant heart and that we always feel this innocence in him. He knows nothing about anything. But he believes everything. They are very open minded. That’s the beautiful thing about Pinocchio.
How long did composition for the film take and was it more or less similar to your previous projects?
I don’t do two projects at once. I’d say maybe two months or something with recordings. But the biggest thing we managed with Guillermo was weaving the melody of the songs into the score. So naturally there are a lot of new melodies in the score I wrote… I didn’t want the songs to just be chapters that disappear. You hear a song and it goes away. No, all songs through this score revert to an instrumental motif. They come back in many, many forms, in different forms, shapes, tones. [tempo], and I think it gives continuity to the whole film which would have been different if we hadn’t used the melody of the songs. Luckily, I wrote the music for the songs so everything was very organic.
I know the movie is based on an Italian novel and not the Disney version, but many draw parallels to the Disney one, which won Best Score and Best Song at the 1941 Oscars and became “When I Wish Upon a Star.” Disney’s Anthem. Is there pressure to match those accolades?
There is always a small bell ringing, “A lot of good movies were made before you came to earth and [people] When you come to these types of projects composed of unusual music. There is quite a challenge ahead of you. ” But knowing that Guillermo started with quality, Disney… I mean, [Walt] Disney changed all the fairy tale stories, they made them into their own stories and Guillermo started from the original and brought it into his own world using great social and political content. Having eco-fascism in the 1930s, it creates really different voices, different strong points that I can mention and recreates the tension that it creates. Of course the pressure is great when you go to the Sherman brothers or these incredible composers. You try to be the best you can be.
What are your influences?
No influence on me. I don’t ask for anything. And if I have to connect with something, it might be something I know. What were Italians listening to in the 20s and 30s? He was listening to opera, to Caruso, to Puccini, and there was a lot on the radio because that was the beginning of radio. Italy had colonies in Libya and Ethiopia so there was a lot of military type music. So I know what kind of music they were playing at that time. But that’s not what we wanted to do. We are far from any anachronism. We don’t want to write pop songs: it can be wrong, it kills the beauty on the screen. It just seems inappropriate.
Have you seen the similarities at work? shape of water And Pinocchio?
There are! Again, social and political themes are very strong. So that’s for sure. The second thing is that Guillermo loves music, so this was a great opportunity for me because he personally wanted me to push the boundaries and I knew that the music would shine through. It was the same spirit of work with Guillermo shape of water.
What was it like creating original songs with Guillermo?
It’s a first for us, and when you work with Guillermo and his endless desire and smile on his face, it shows that he’s excited about the idea that we can create something. He is a creator. He likes to create beings shape of water, but writing a song or writing music is the same, creating a being that you send out a window to the world. So this process with him is very, very… a lot of fun. A lot of work, but a lot of fun. Guillermo and Katz, the three of us, really, I think that’s what the film is calling for, which is, you know, define the characters and expand the emotion that they convey. Could it be fear? Could it be depression?
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.