×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Wonderstruck’ Director Todd Haynes Emphasizes Importance of Film’s Score: It’s ‘Almost a Character’

Todd Haynes’ latest film “Wonderstruck” opened at the Los Angeles Theatre in Downtown L.A. Tuesday. The unusually warm October evening was graced by director Haynes, as well as stars Oakes Fegley and Jaden Michael, screenwriter Brian Selznick, executive producer and costume designer Sandy Powell, and composer Carter Burwell. Julianne Moore and newcomer Millicent Simmonds, who also star in the film, were unable to attend.

Based on the novel also written by Selznick, “Wonderstruck” flips between two narratives in separate eras — the 1920s and 1970s. Simmonds and Fegley portray Rose and Ben (respectively), two deaf children who embark on distinctive, personal journeys in New York City. The Los Angeles Theatre was decorated to reflect both eras, with ushers dressed as either flappers or ‘70s socialites. Kettle corn and old fashioned sodas were also served during the screening.

Seldom does Hollywood see screenplays adapted from a novel written by the novelist himself. However, Selznick got the ball rolling on the project, noting that he wrote the screenplay after Powell urged him to pitch it to Haynes, whom she worked with on Haynes’ “Carol” in 2015. The New Jersey-born writer described the process of adapting the story from page to screen as a good exercise in confinement.

“When I’m making books, it’s all about the interaction between the words and the pictures,” Selznick explained to Variety. “When it’s time to turn it into a movie — and this is the first screenplay I’ve ever written — it’s was more about condensing and cutting things out and figuring out what was absolutely necessary in order to tell the story.”

“Wonderstruck” marks the first collaboration between Haynes and Selznick, though Selznick had been a fan of the director’s work for years. Haynes noted his admiration for the whimsical nature of the screenplay, saying that the film speaks to both children and adults, particularly those who are deaf themselves.

“I wanted it to be a very special and unique film for films,” he said. “That kids could discover and feel like they found something unique and rare, and that their parents could also dig.”

Haynes also discussed the challenges of directing a film that so starkly switches between two eras, adding that directing “Wonderstruck” “required faith in cinema at its most basic language, which is its visual language, editorial language, and the score.” Haynes emphasized the importance that music plays in the film. Haynes worked with composer Burwell to come up with a way to play down the emphasis on the dialogue, placing it instead on the score.

“The music is almost a character [in the film],” said Haynes. “I sometimes found myself thinking that the music plays the role that dialogue usually plays in a film, and the roles are reverted. You’re not supposed to really notice the score in a film, but you notice the dialogue and it carries you through emotionally. This film you don’t really notice the dialogue, but you notice the music, and it really tells the story.”

“Wonderstruck” opens in theaters nationwide Friday, Oct. 20.

More Scene

  • Jordan Peele'Us' film premiere, Arrivals, New

    Jordan Peele Explains the Meaning Behind the 'Us' Michael Jackson Reference

    Jordan Peele’s horror movie “Us” is filled with pop culture references, from “Jaws” to “Goonies.” But the most divisive might be right in his opening sequence. Warning, minor spoilers ahead. The movie about a couple (played by Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke) and their children being hunted and brutalized by a mysterious family that looks just [...]

  • Danielle Brooks'Ain't Too Proud - The

    How 'Orange Is the New Black' Star Danielle Brooks Became a Broadway Producer

    Danielle Brooks earned a Tony nomination when she made her Broadway debut as Sofia in the 2015 revival of “The Color Purple,” but now the “Orange Is the New Black” star is working behind the scenes as a producer on the new jukebox musical “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations.” “I [...]

  • Nick Offerman Amy Poehler

    'Parks and Recreation' Cast Talks Possibility of a Revival at 10th Anniversary Reunion

    For one night, Hollywood felt a little like Pawnee. The cast of NBC’s hit comedy “Parks and Recreation” reunited at PaleyFest on Thursday in honor of the show’s 10th anniversary. The whole Pawnee gang showed up: Amy Poehler, Chris Pratt, Aubrey Plaza, Nick Offerman, Aziz Ansari, Rob Lowe, Adam Scott, Rashida Jones, Retta, and Jim [...]

  • Andy CohenThe Shops and Restaurants at

    Andy Cohen to Receive Vito Russo Award at GLAAD Media Awards

    Mazel, Andy Cohen! Bravo’s late-night talk show host is set to receive the Vito Russo Award at the 30th annual GLAAD Media Awards on May 4 in New York City. Sarah Jessica Parker will present him with the award, which is named in honor of GLAAD founder Vito Russo. The annual award goes to openly [...]

  • Variety TV Summit Europe

    Variety TV Summit Europe Coming to London on June 13

    Variety’s TV Summit Europe will coincide with London Tech Week this year, returning to the city on June 13. The international conference will be held at the Royal Lancaster and is co-produced by global events company Informa’s KNect365 division, the world’s largest business-to-business organizer. The one-day summit will focus on the intersection of content and [...]

  • David Furnish, Bryce Dallas Howard, Taron

    'Rocketman': Paramount Previews Footage of Elton John Biopic

    “Rocketman” is ready for lift off. Paramount Pictures threw a cocktail party Monday night to preview 15 minutes of the upcoming Elton John biopic, set for release on May 31, at the Troubadour in Los Angeles, the legendary rock club where John made his U.S. debut nearly 50 years ago. The footage featured pieces of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content