×

Alex Ebert, aka Edward Sharpe, Gets Into Redford’s Head

Musician Alex Ebert has spent a career reinventing himself, from hard-partying frontman of such bands as the Lucky 13s and Ima Robot to messianic alter ego Edward Sharpe of the Magnetic Zeros fame to clear-eyed solo artist, with a range of influences too wide to list here.

Now, with his feature film scoring debut on J.C. Chandor’s “All Is Lost,” about a nameless navigator (Robert Redford) whose yacht is slowly sinking in the Indian Ocean with no sign of help, or hope, Ebert returns his attention to a medium that was a passing interest from his school days.

The music is meditative and spare, as if the mission were to make it as inconspicuous as possible.

“When I first read the script during my first meeting with (Chandor), I told him I thought the other big character in the movie was silence,” Ebert tells Variety. “In fact, when I got the first cut of the film, I quite liked it without any music. I enjoyed being forced into the same aloneness and solipsism that Redford was forced into.”

But once he was exposed to a rough cut of the movie, he found himself “going to town, basically making a musical,” even if that musical has the effect of lulling the viewer into a quiet sense of desperation, if not existential dread.

Ebert dug deep, and came up with a theme he thought would best serve the character and the movie. “I initially played it on piano but J.C. didn’t want any piano. And I’m glad he didn’t because it pushed me to find an instrument that would be sort of perfect. And I went through a few and found the alto flute as the prime voice.”

That breathy flute, along with bass flute, strings, a bowed upright bass, acoustic guitar and more unorthodox instruments like gigantic crystal and Tibetan bowls, which created a kind of ambient affect not unlike whale cries, give a sense of extreme solitude and inevitable death.

Although he was inspired by Ennio Morricone’s mournful music for “The Mission,” Ebert’s work stands very much on its own, with few signs of what came before.

In a coda for the movie, the song “Amen,” Ebert touches on Redford’s generation. “Raised on golden days/God love the USA/Fed on Purple

Haze/Young men today/He heard them say …”

“It’s a dual tale of youthful endurance and the defiance of the human aging process and the idea of living forever,” Ebert says.

The song reflects the director’s over-arching theme for the movie. “J.C. told me it’s about an entire generation facing their own swan song, facing death and yet living in the face of it.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon

    Film News Roundup: Stephen King's 'Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon' Movie in the Works

    In today’s film news roundup, a Stephen King horror movie is in the works, “Downton Abbey” is seeing strong sales and a project about Revolutionary War soldier Deborah Sampson is in development. KING ADAPTATION Stephen King’s “The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon” has been set up as a movie at George A. Romero’s Sanibel Films, [...]

  • Moviepass

    MoviePass Confirms Security Issue With Customer Records

    MoviePass, the struggling movie ticket subscription service, has confirmed a security issue may have exposed customers’ records. In a statement, MoviePass said Wednesday that the security lapse was recently discovered and its system was immediately secured. Reports of the data breach first surfaced Tuesday through the Tech Crunch site, which alleged that tens of thousands [...]

  • Matthew Modine

    Matthew Modine Accused of Violating Labor Laws With Campaign Videos

    Matthew Modine has been accused by SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris of violating federal laws in his campaign to unseat Carteris. The production of three campaign videos for Modine by the for-profit New York Film Academy — on whose board Modine sits — has been blasted by Carteris for alleged violations of federal labor law prohibiting [...]

  • Ready or Not Movie

    'Ready or Not,' 'Angel Has Fallen' Enter Box Office Race

    Three more contenders are joining what has lately been a hostile box office arena. Can anyone emerge from August victorious? Fox Searchlight’s “Ready or Not,” a black comedy about a diabolical game of hide-and-seek, will debut in 2,244 North American theaters on Wednesday. The low-budget film is expected to earn upwards of $6.5 million over [...]

  • Rules Don't Apply

    Warren Beatty and Arnon Milchan Settle Suit Over 'Rules Don't Apply' Flop

    Arnon Milchan and Warren Beatty have settled their two-year legal battle over the disastrous release of “Rules Don’t Apply,” Beatty’s period drama about Howard Hughes. Milchan’s attorneys have filed a notice with the court dismissing his suit against Beatty. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed. Milchan’s company, New Regency, sued Beatty and other investors [...]

  • Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro attends a

    Bolsonaro LGBTQI Outburst, Subsidy Freeze, Stirs Outrage

    Ramping up the drive into censorship in Brazil, its Minister of Citizenship, Omar Terra, has suspended a call for applications for governmental TV funding – until new criteria are established for its application. The country’s secretary for culture, Henrique Pires, who reports to Terra, has resigned in protest of the incentive freeze. The suspension, for [...]

  • Adam Brody'Ready or Not' film premiere,

    Adam Brody to Executive Produce, Star in 'The Kid Detective'

    “Ready or Not’s” Adam Brody has signed on to star in “The Kid Detective.” Sophie Nelisse will co-star in the dramedy from writer-director Evan Morgan. Brody will star as a once-celebrated kid detective, now 31, who continues to solve the same trivial mysteries between hangovers and bouts of self-pity until a 16-year-old client (Nelisse) brings [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content