Unlike most composers, Santaolalla not only performs his own music but completes a film’s score prior to its shoot. It’s a feat that surprised Ang Lee, who, after meeting Santaolalla, received a package 20 days later with his acoustic work for “Brokeback Mountain.”
“I work from the script’s characters. It’s a special way of collaborating with the director and the actors, for they live with the music during the production,” Santaolalla says, recalling how helmer Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu used his score while lensing a hospital scene with Sean Penn in “21 Grams.”
“Babel” marks the composer’s fourth collaboration with Gonzalez Inarritu, a relationship that began on the 2000 pic “Amores perros.”
The composer has quickly built his career around political dramas. “I pick up these social justice films because they ring in me,” says Santaolalla, who left Argentina in the late 1970s after being blacklisted as a dissident artist there.