“Michael uses an intimate orchestration to take us on that journey with Jojo,” praises “Jojo Rabbit” writer-director Taika Waititi of composer Michael Giacchino. “He’s got a really amazing sense of creating emotion using music.” Waititi and Giacchino spoke about the thematic importance of music in a new behind-the-scenes featurette. Watch the exclusive video above.
Giacchino views his job as “tracking my empathy for what is happening and putting it into the piano, and then into the orchestra, and then into your ears.” In the case of “Jojo Rabbit,” a Fox Searchlight release about a young boy (Roman Griffin Davis) in Hitler’s youth army, “the most important thing was keeping it intimate, almost seen through the eyes of a child.”
In the beginning, Jojo has “a very narrow point of view,” Giacchino explains, believing everything his imaginary friend Hitler (Waititi) says about Jewish people. “As the film goes on, it slowly widens,” especially once he learns his mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a young Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) in their house.
Giacchino tried to express this changing worldview through his music. “The first time your hear Jojo’s theme, it’s very simple, and children sing this Nazi fascist march” that sounds upbeat and cheerful. Later, the tune is reprised “in a different way,” as Jojo watches everything he’s ever known fall apart in battle. “The music is as big as it has ever been in the film,” the boy’s eyes finally open to the dangers of fascism.
The film could return Giacchino to the Oscar race for the first time since 2009, when he won the Best Score prize for Pixar’s animated feature “Up,” which brought him additional wins at the Golden Globes, BAFTA, Grammys and Critics Choice Awards. He previously contended in that category for “Ratatouille” (2007), for which he also won a Grammy. On the TV side, he took home an Emmy for his work on the first season of “Lost,” making him just a Tony away from joining the very small number of people to complete the entertainment awards grand slam: the EGOT.
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