With his score for “Jojo Rabbit,” Michael Giacchino wanted to fully capture the story of “this little boy who begins his journey with a worldview that is very narrow” but develops a much “wider” perspective as the film progresses. It’s a satire, but rather than try to emphasize the comedy, which “speaks for itself,” the veteran composer focused on the “emotional aspect” of the film. Watch our exclusive video interview with Giacchino above.
Set during WWII, this Fox Searchlight release stars Roman Griffin Davis as the title character, a young German boy whose imaginary friend is none other than Adolph Hitler (played by writer-director Taika Waititi). A zealous member of Hitler’s youth army, Jojo’s world is shaken when he discovers his mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) in their house.
“As a kid, you’re used to only being preoccupied with what’s directly in front of you,” explains Giacchino. “Anything outside of that circle [you’re] not interested in.” That’s certainly the case for Jojo, who unquestioningly believes everything Der Fuhrer says about Jewish people before he comes face-to-face with one for the first time. “For him to grow in a very short period of time, to understand more about what’s happening in the world, that’s something most kids don’t have to deal with. But it’s certainly something that kids in that time period had to experience.”
In writing Jojo’s theme, Giacchino hoped to “illustrate musically how you can go from one point of view to another point of view through the course of a story.” So he came up with a German march sung by a choir of young boys that could be interpreted in multiple ways. “If you read the lyrics at the beginning of the film,” they speak to “fascism and all of the horrors that you’re used to associating with World War II. But because everything is about perception and point of view,” at the end of the movie, after Jojo’s eyes have been opened, those same lyrics “are all about tolerance and acceptance, and love and support.”
Giacchino won an Oscar, Golden Globe, BAFTA, Critics’ Choice Award and Grammy for scoring the Pixar animated film “Up” (2009). He was also nominated at the Oscars for “Ratatouille” (2007), which won him a Grammy as well. For his work on TV, he took home an Emmy in 2005 as the composer for “Lost,” so he’s just a Tony away from joining the illustrious group of EGOT grand slam victors.
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