“It was clear music was going to be front and center,” divulges Carter Burwell as we chat via webcam (watch the exclusive video above) about his work on “Wonderstruck.” Burwell reunites with director Todd Haynes for this story about a mysterious connection between a deaf girl in the 1920s and an orphaned boy with hearing loss in the 1970s. Because most of the film is told without dialogue or sound effects, Burwell’s score would need to help drive the narrative, which “brings with it a whole set of problems.”
The portions of the film set in the 1920s are made to emulate silent cinema, with black-and-white photography, artificial backgrounds, and most importantly of all, no sound. Burwell reveals, “When we started watching the film with my music, and the music is nonstop, early on we began to realize it’s very easy for it to be overwhelming, or a bit over-informative, or just too much, to put it simply. So figuring out how to have music actually present a lot of the time… but have it not be oppressive was a trial and error process. Because the film’s just unusual, there’s no way to know what would work until we did it.”
Burwell is one of the most prolific composers working today, with 100 credits on his resume including collaborations with the Coen Brothers, Spike Jonze, Bill Condon, and Lisa Cholodenko. Working with Haynes has led to his career-first Oscar nomination for “Carol” (Best Score in 2015) and an Emmy win for “Mildred Pierce” (Best Movie/Mini Score in 2011). In addition to “Wonderstruck,” he is also in the running for reuniting with Martin McDonagh on “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” as well as for “Goodbye Christopher Robin.”
Check out our full interview above for more about Burwell’s work on “Wonderstruck,” “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” and “Goodbye Christopher Robin.”
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