×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

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.”

More Film

  • Margot Robbie, Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron.

    Charlize Theron Could Win Second Oscar for Playing Megyn Kelly in 'Bombshell'

    Charlize Theron walked on stage before a screening of “Bombshell” at the Pacific Design on Sunday night and announced to the crowd, “I’m about to s— myself.” The Oscar winner had good reason to be nervous. The screening of the Jay Roach-directed drama about the fall of Fox News boss Roger Ailes was the first [...]

  • Abominable Animated Movie

    Vietnam Pulls DreamWorks’ 'Abominable' Over Contested Territorial Claims

    Vietnam has banned DreamWorks Animation’s new co-produced feature “Abominable” from its cinemas due to a scene involving a map that depicts China’s contested territorial claims in the South China Sea. The move comes as U.S. entertainment firms like the NBA, Disney and gaming firm Activision Blizzard are under intense fire from US fans, activists and [...]

  • The Captain

    China Box Office: 'The Captain' Flies to $340 Million After Two Weeks on Release

    Patriotic thriller “The Captain” held on to the top spot at the Chinese box office for the second weekend, again leading from propaganda omnibus “My People, My Country.” “The Captain,” also known as “The Chinese Pilot” earned $34.9 million according to consultancy Artisan Gateway, for a two-week cumulative of $343 million. The cumulative for “People,” [...]

  • CGV movie theatre Seoul South KoreaCGV

    Korean Law To Limit Film Releasing Monopolies

    The Korean government is to make it illegal to show a single film on more than 50% of screens nationwide. The move is intended to prevent “screen monopolies by blockbuster films” and to “address unfair competition practices in the film industry.” The Ministry of Culture announced on Monday that it will revise the existing Promotion [...]

  • Jason Flemyng, Casting Director Lucinda Syson

    Jason Flemyng, Lucinda Syson Launch Film and TV Indie The Kernel Factory (EXCLUSIVE)

    Jason Flemyng, fellow actor Ben Starr, casting director Lucinda Syson, and finance expert Cristiano D’Urso are opening The Kernel Factory, a new U.K.-based film and TV indie. Flemyng has a long list of movie credits including “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,” and Guy Ritchie’s “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking [...]

  • Hache

    ‘Hache’ Creator, Director Discuss Netflix’s Next Spanish Original, Dropping Nov. 1

    MADRID — On Nov 1 Netflix will drop its fifth Spanish original series, 1960’s-set drug smuggling drama “Hache,” produced by Madrid’s Weekend Studio for the platform. Created by Verónica Fernández and directed by Jorge Torregrossa (“La vida inesperada,” “Cocaine Coast,” “Velvet Collection”), “Hache” tells the story of Helena (Adriana Ugarte), a prostitute who ends up [...]

  • Argentina Film Lab

    Argentina to Build Country’s First Film Restoration Laboratory in Buenos Aires

    Argentina’s Instituto Nacional de Cinematografia y las Artes Audiovisuals (INCAA) and the Ministry of Culture of the City of Buenos Aires will partner to build Argentina’s first laboratory of film preservation. Minister of Culture Enrique Avogadro and INCAA president Ralph Haiek signed the agreement which will see Buenos Aires’ Pablo Ducrós Hicken Film Museum in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content