Rock Opera Meets Vertigo for Fury Road Score

Junkie XL (Tom Holkenborg), the founder of NERVE and part of a new breed of film composers that merges electronic with symphonic (Divergent, 300: Rise of an Empire), found the perfect blend for George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road. Think rock opera meets Vertigo. It’s this high-octane, retro revitalization that has also landed him Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (he’s scoring the Dark Knight in contrast to Hans Zimmer’s Man of Steel) and the remake of Kathryn Bigelow’s iconic Point Break thriller.

In fact, it’s all about going to musical extremes for Holkenborg: “It’s an extraordinary world that  [George] created and it needs something that’s so crazy. At the same time, there are parts of the movie where all madness, all that gruesome dictatorship disappears and we are left with five people that come together with human interactions that we would now see as normal in our world. But they’re not normal in that world, which is the survival of the fittest. That is the point where it becomes really human and that’s where the score gets really small and really intimate.”

But for the most part, Fury Road’s vast landscape — the Outback from hell — provided Holkenborg the opportunity to utilize nearly 200 instruments and an 80-voice choir in a frenzy of beating drums, sweeping strings and growling electric guitars (pretty much anything he could get his hands on).

“The idea with the rock element was that there is a big truck, almost like the Cavaliers for the Armada, with a bunch of drummers ramming away in the back and a guitar player in front, that follows the war party in the desert to hype them up as they chase Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy down with a bunch of girls in the [War Rig]. The guitar player is very scary, almost like Animal of The Muppets,” Holkenborg suggested.

However, for the film’s second-half (the composer’s favorite part, actually), Holkenborg strips it all down with woodwinds and strings as the driving force in an homage to Bernard Herrmann’s “Vertigo” love theme (which itself was a new twist on Richard Wagner’s legendary “Tristan and Isolde”).

“It was a time for neo-classicism so they looked back at what [the great composers] had done and put a new spin on it. And at the same time, they were very experimental, especially Bernard Herrmann and Jerry Goldsmith. They found a unique way to make the music work with the picture without saying too much, giving you a comfortable feeling or a very uncomfortable feeling.”

Read the rest at TOH/Indiewire.

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Below the Line, Clips, Crafts, How They Did It, Movies, Music, Tech, VFX

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