×

‘Game of Thrones’ Composer Pens Minimalist Score for ‘Mountain Between Us’

Ramin Djawadi created the iconic “Game of Thrones” theme song that prevents most viewers from skipping over the opening credits. The Iranian-German
composer has scored many other high-volume projects, such as “Westworld,” “Pacific Rim” and “Iron Man,” but with “The Mountain Between Us” — Fox’s plane-crash thriller starring Kate Winslet and Idris Elba, in theaters Oct. 6 — he’s quieting down a bit.

“It’s a big departure,” says Djawadi, who played his first notes on the piano when he was 4, trying to emulate a melody he’d heard on TV. “It’s a side of me that people haven’t heard. I’m excited to have written this kind of score, because it’s the type of music I love, perhaps even more than action music.”

After nearly a decade practicing piano, Djawadi picked up the guitar when he was 13 and things took off. He composed constantly, working up to eight hours a day. “I don’t feel very articulate with words,” he says. “All music I write is instrumental, so that lent itself naturally to writing film music. I feel like with just notes I can hide better and leave it up to other people to interpret what they feel from my music.”

Djawadi’s art is enhanced by a genetic factor called synesthesia whereby he sees music as color. He didn’t realize he had the ability until a few years ago, when his wife asked him about his inspirations for composing. “I told her that I hear music in my head all day long,” he says. “It’s just always there. But when I write, I see colors that turn into notes for me. A couple of days later she told me that there’s a word for that: synesthesia.”

Djawadi explains the complexities of seeing notes as colors and how one color pertains to one note — for him, a G is green — but there’s never a single picture that is just one color, so music is his way of painting, in a sense. This made scoring “The Mountain Between Us,” with its mostly white, snow-laden backdrops, unique. Djawadi believes that maybe this is why he ended up with a minimalist score of mostly piano and strings.

“The plane has certain colors, the clothing, the scarves — the sky has a blue tone too, so it’s not completely colorless,” he says. “Also, that’s what [director] Hany [Abu-Assad] and I felt the majority of the score should be — that’s all it needed. We’re dealing with two characters for most of the time in a very particular place, and we felt like that was really fitting to bring it very close and make it very personal.”

More Artisans

  • Crawl Movie

    'Crawl' and Other Disaster Movies Pose Unique Obstacles for Production Designers

    The rampaging fires, earthquakes and storms of disaster movies present unusual challenges for a production: On top of the normal work of creating a film’s lived-in and realistic locations, designers must build sets that the forces of nature can batter, flood and ravage into something completely different. Take “Crawl,” in which a Category 5 hurricane [...]

  • Costume designer Michele Clapton

    Costume Designers Fashion a Plan to Fight for Pay Parity in Upcoming Contract Talks

    The Costume Designers Guild Local 892 is gearing up to fight for pay equity in its 2021 contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, establishing a pay-equity committee to raise awareness of the scale disparity between the mostly female CDG membership and the mostly male membership of the Art Directors Guild Local [...]

  • This photo shows composer Hans Zimmer

    Hans Zimmer on Recreating Iconic Score: 'The Lion King' 'Brought People Together'

    Composer Hans Zimmer is seated at the mixing board at the Sony scoring stage, head bobbing to the music being performed by 107 musicians just a few yards away. He’s wearing a vintage “Lion King World Tour” T-shirt, frayed at the collar. On the giant screen behind the orchestra, two lions are bounding across the [...]

  • On-Location Filming Slides 3.9% in Los

    On-Location Filming Slides 3.9% in Los Angeles in Second Quarter

    Held down by a lack of soundstage space, total on-location filming in greater Los Angeles declined 3.9% in the second quarter to 8,632 shoot days, permitting agency FilmLA reported Thursday. “Although our latest report reveals a decline in filming on location, local production facilities tell us that they are operating at capacity,” said FilmLA president [...]

  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

    How 'Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood' Turned the Clock Back for Its Shoot

    Crossing the street took months for the crew that turned back the clock 50 years on Hollywood Boulevard for Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood.” Production designer Barbara Ling created false fronts for buildings that were constructed off-site and installed by crane just ahead of the shoot. Set decorator Nancy Haigh described [...]

  • Just Roll With It Disney Channel

    Disney Channel's Scripted-Improv Comedy Crew Shares How They 'Just Roll With It'

    The title of the new Disney Channel series “Just Roll With It” appears to be as much a directive for its cast and crew as it is a description of the multi-camera hybrid sitcom, which is part scripted and part improv. The plot revolves around the blended Bennett-Blatt family — strict mom Rachel (Suzi Barrett), [...]

  • "SpongeBob's Big Birthday Blowout" cast

    'SpongeBob' Voice Cast on Acting Together in Live-Action for 20th Anniversary Special

    On a brisk morning in February, the members of the voice cast of Nickelodeon’s flagship animated series “SpongeBob SquarePants” gathered to work on a new episode, like they’ve done most weeks over the past 20 years. But instead of being in a recording booth, this time they’ve assembled at a diner in Castaic, Calif., shooting [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content