How Alexandre Deblatt Kept ‘The Vibrant Heart’ and ‘Innocence’ of Pinocchio Alive Thanks to His Score

Composer Alexandre Desplat, known for his work in films such as King’s speechAnd the please And the Grand Budapest HotelHe sought to preserve the “innocence” and “vibrant heart” of the Pinocchio story through his score in Guillermo del Toro’s upcoming stop-motion movie, Pinocchio.

Using only wooden instruments, such as a violin, piano or ukulele, he wanted to associate the music with Carlo Collodi’s 1883 novel on which the film is based.

“I think the real key has always been passion, trying to get Pinocchio’s vibrant heartbeat and making sure we still feel the innocence he has,” Desplat said. The Hollywood Reporter. “He doesn’t know anything. But he believes in everything. He’s very open. That’s the beautiful thing about Pinocchio.”

Produced by Netflix Animation, Jim Henson Co and ShadowMachine, the film has been del Toro’s passion project since 2008 and marks the first feature-length animation, which he co-directed with Mark Gustafson. Del Toro also wrote the script with Patrick McHale and Matthew Robbins. Del Toro and Desplat have known each other since the days of Del Toro DreamWorks, and collaborated on Del Toro water shape.

Starring Gregory Mann, Ewan McGregor, Christoph Waltz, Tilda Swinton, Ron Perlman, Finn Wolfhard, and Cate Blanchett, the film also features original songs written by del Toro with Desplat and Robin Katz.

Pinocchio It will hit select theaters Friday before hitting Netflix on December 9.

Below, Desplat speaks with THR About the movie’s music, collaborations with del Toro and more.

How was your engagement with Pinocchio Started? I know you already worked with Guillermo del Toro on his 2017 film water shape.

I knew Guillermo had a project for a while – to lead someday Pinocchio – And suddenly he was ready to go, and I got a script, and he was like, “You’ll see, there are chapters that are supposed to be songs. Not like real music where everyone sings, but just chapters where the characters sing, and that’s where we started with, you know, those pictures Stalled, it takes years to make. If I’m not mistaken, it took 1,000 days of filming, so that’s not bad, and that’s where we started. I met Guillermo in the studio. We started having fun with songs, ideas, characters, music or words that Any character should convey, and that’s the beginning. Then we brought in Robin Katz, a friend of mine and lyricist, to work with us on the lyrics. And at some point, we’d be ready to go with the actors to record the songs. It was [two or] Three years ago, a long time ago during COVID. The good news is we had a crew of people who could sing. Cool boy – well, he’s no longer a boy, but [Gregory Mann] I was 10 years old with this wonderful pure innocence – and I knew that Ewan was a really good musician and Kristoff was a great musician, so we were very lucky to have these guys on board. The funny thing is that we scored her in all of these [different] sites.

So it looks like you waited to see the final movie before you started composing the score?

Yes, that’s what I always do: Watch what the movie offers, whether it’s animation or live action, I need to watch. I like to see what is happening on set, how the actors move, how they interact and interact. The beauty of the production side is always that it’s so inspiring. People often ask me where my inspiration comes from. It doesn’t come from sitting and staring at the tree. It can come from sitting looking at a piece I’m working on and its beauty.

Once you watch the movie, what is your process for creating the score? I know you only used wooden tools for this.

Well, I’ve always tried to come up with a concept for [a film] that I’m working on. What can be different from this movie to the previous and the next, and by combining instruments or sounds, one can create a movie sound. [In] The girl with the pearlAlmost all instruments are muted. in Nice Mr. FoxThey were just little gadgets, these tiny little things. And the PinocchioI thought Geppetto was a carpenter. Right off the bat, it’s all about trees, so let’s challenge that and see how it goes and what happens.

What was Guillermo’s involvement in the score? Did he give you advice or give you free rein?

Well, Guillermo wrote most of the songs with me, because he was the one who gave almost all the songs the feelings we had to convey. And for the score, I think the first thing I played was the main theme, which was the opening of the movie. I played it on piano, and I think it affected, and I felt that if Guillermo was moved, I should be in the right area. This is where we started. And the cool thing about this movie is that it wasn’t childish or childish; It’s very deep and it’s not just for kids. It plays for everyone. I’d say to humans, you know, because there’s a lot of soul in a story Pinocchio And what Guillermo did was even more exciting. Of course the father-son relationship, which seems all the time in boys, especially when you lose your father. It means a lot, and speaking of inspiration, you go out there and try to connect your feelings [that are] He often delivers what Guillermo asked you to do. And of course, there are many twists and turns in the movie, and the adventures we know from the book, so there’s a huge palette of colors and musical colors to explore. But I think the real key has always been to try to get Pinocchio’s vibrant heart and make sure we still feel as innocent as he is. not know anything. But he believes in everything. He is very open. This is the beautiful thing about Pinocchio.

How long did it take to make the movie, and was it more or less on par with your previous projects?

I don’t do two projects at once. I would say in total with the recordings maybe two months or something. But the important thing we were able to do with Guillermo was weave the melody of the songs into the score. So of course there are a lot of new tunes in the track that I wrote and I was able to… I didn’t want the songs to be chapters that would disappear. You hear a song and then it disappears. No, all songs come back as a staple during this score. They come back in many, many shapes, forms, shapes, and tones, [tempo]And I think it gives the whole movie a continuity that would have been different if we hadn’t used the melody of the songs. Fortunately, I had written the music for the songs so they were all very organic.

I know the movie is based on the Italian novel and not the Disney version, but many will compare to Disney which won Best Score and Best Song at the 1941 Academy Awards and “When I Wish Upon a Star” became the Disney anthem. Was there pressure to match those awards?

There’s always a little bell ringing, “There were some great movies made before you came to Earth and [people] Make great music when you approach these types of projects. You have a big challenge ahead of you. But knowing that Guillermo switched from quality and knowing that Disney… I mean, [Walt] Disney changed the stories of all fairy tales, making them their own, and Guillermo took the original and introduced it into his world with great social and political content. With the ecofascism of the 1930s, it creates really different sounds, different strong elements that I can relate to and again, the tension it creates. Of course, there is good pressure when you get close to the Sherman brothers or any of these great composers. You try to be the best you can be.

What were your effects?

There are no effects for me. I don’t listen to anything. And if I need to connect to something, that’s probably something I know about. What did Italians listen to in the 1920s and 1930s? They listened to opera, Caruso, Puccini, and there was a lot of radio because it was the beginning of radio. There was a lot of military music because Italy had colonies in Libya and Ethiopia. So I know what kind of music they were playing at the time. But that’s not what we wanted to do. We also stayed away from any anachronisms. We didn’t want to write pop songs: it could have been wrong, it would have killed the beauty of what’s on screen. It seemed inappropriate.

Did you see any similarities in the work water shape And the Pinocchio?

exist! Once again, the social and political content is very powerful. This is certain. The second thing is that Guillermo loves music, so it was a huge opportunity for me because I knew he personally wanted me to push the boundaries and make the music shine. It was the same passion for working with Guillermo as it was for him water shape.

What was it like to create original songs with Guillermo?

It was a first for us, and when you work with Guillermo and his endless desire and a smile on his face, it shows he’s excited about the possibility of creating something. He is a creator. He loves creating creatures, as in water shape, but the same with song writing or music writing, it creates the creature that you send out of the window into the world. So this process with him is very, very interesting. Lots of work, but so much fun. Guillermo and Katz, the three of us really, I think, figured out what the movie was after, which was, you know, define the characters and expand the emotion that they convey. Could it be fear? Could it be melancholy?

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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