×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Gregson-Williams relishes the chase

Eye on the Oscars: Song & Score

“Cowboys and Aliens” and “Arthur Christmas” seem about as different as two movies can be. The former (not among the 97 scores deemed Oscar-eligible by the Acad) is a live-action Western and space invaders mash-up; the latter, an animated holiday pic for kids.

But Harry Gregson-Williams scored both, and while he acknowledges their differences, he also found points of thematic tangency in them.

“My first ports-of-call were the central characters,” the composer says. “Both are chasing something, and they don’t stop until they’ve got it. Also, both are honest about themselves and their surroundings.”

Each score uses full orchestra and choir, but things diverge from there. “A lot of ‘Arthur Christmas’ is a personal story,” Gregson-Williams notes. “I used a clarinet and piano backed by the orchestra quite often, and that seemed to suit his character.

“?’Cowboys and Aliens’ had guitars involved, because we had to nod to the musical conventions of the Western. I also tried to suit the rugged nature of Daniel Craig’s character and give the music an outdoorsy quality.”

Any rules were Gregson-Williams’ own. “For ‘Arthur Christmas,’ I thought there’s no reason for it not to be organically orchestral, with various solo instruments,” he says. “There was no need for it to be synthetic. But ‘Cowboys and Aliens’ could be anything. It has a familiar sound to start, but with the arrival of aliens, all bets are off.”

The result blends electronic pulses and guitar riffs with moody, noir-ish figures and the expansive gestures typical of sci-fi music.

Determining how to render Christmas proved more of a challenge. “What is a Christmas sound?” Gregson-Williams asks. “Something that sparkles or uses tubular bells, perhaps. But harmonically? To me, it’s a natural place, and that’s where I went.”

Its warmhearted nature notwithstanding, “Arthur Christmas” is more than a simple tale of affirmation. The scope of its story — Santa’s ability to deliver gifts throughout the world on a single night — requires the sort of broad musical brush strokes characteristic of a “bigger” film.

“It was necessary to give the music some epic feel,” Gregson-Williams concedes, “because what’s depicted is a global operation. Yet there’s a personal story within that epic story.”

Eye on the Oscars: Song & Score
Are acad rules out of synch? | ‘Muppety’ but not too ‘Flighty’ | Pinch hitter | Elizabethan notes culled from rubble | Utility player orchestrates ‘Miracle’ | Powell animated by quartet of pix | Animal, mineral mix in ‘Apes’ score | Gregson-Williams relishes the chase | Byrne scores big ‘Albert Nobbs’ | O’Connor in tune with ‘Albert Nobbs’

More Scene

  • Laurie Metcalf, John Lithgow'Hillary and Clinton'

    Why John Lithgow Worried About Starring in Broadway's 'Hillary and Clinton'

    When Lucas Hnath first conceived of “Hillary and Clinton” in 2008, he was writing for and about a very different America. Now, a total reimagining of the show has made its way to Broadway with Laurie Metcalf and John Lithgow in the titular roles. At the opening on Thursday night, the cast and creatives talked [...]

  • Patrick Page, Amber Grey, Eva Noblezada,

    'Hadestown' Took 12 Years to Get to Broadway, but It's More Relevant Than Ever

    When “Hadestown” was first staged as a tiny, DIY theater project in Vermont, those involved could never have predicted that it was the start of a 12-year journey to Broadway — or how painfully relevant it would be when it arrived. At Wednesday night’s opening at the Walter Kerr Theatre, the cast and creatives discussed [...]

  • Mick Jagger

    Mick Jagger Makes First Post-Surgery Appearance at Rolling Stones Ballet Premiere

    Rock legend Mick Jagger made his first public appearance post-heart surgery on Thursday night to catch a glimpse of the world premiere of the Rolling Stones ballet “Porte Rouge.” “I hope you are going to enjoy this wonderful new ballet, and, of course, the music,” the frontman declared in a pre-recorded message to the audience [...]

  • Adam Driver appears at the curtain

    Adam Driver on Starring in 'Burn This' for a Second Time

    The Hudson Theatre’s new production of “Burn This” marks its first Broadway revival since it premiered on the Great White Way in 1987, but Adam Driver is no stranger to the work. He starred as Pale in a Juilliard production of the Lanford Wilson drama when he was still a student — and only now, [...]

  • PMC Event Rome

    Film, Fashion, Formula E Mix at Rome E-Prix Bash

    Film, fashion and Formula E auto-racing fused during a dinner and celebration of the Rome E-Prix on Thursday at the Palazzo Dama by the Piazza del Popolo in the heart of the Eternal City.  Guests mingled and sipped cocktails as hors d’oeuvres were passed around in a former home of the Italian nobility with conversation [...]

  • Katy Perry, Diane von Furstenberg, Arianna

    Katy Perry and Anita Hill Honored at the DVF Awards

    Katy Perry was among the honorees at the 10th Annual DVF Awards on Thursday night. The singer was recognized for her advocacy work with both UNICEF and the LGBTQ community. “Music has opened the doors for so many opportunities for me,” she said while accepting the inspiration award. “The ability to meet people and champion [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content