Emile Mosseri began crafting the score for “Minari” far earlier than most composers in the filmmaking process. The composer read the script and started writing the music before anything had even been shot. Mosseri was brought on board early because of his previous experience composing the score to “The Last Black Man in San Francisco,” on which “Minari” producer Christina Oh had also worked. “It was this more familial thing. It just organically happened that way,” says Mosseri in an exclusive new interview for Gold Derby. “I’d like to do it that way whenever possible.” Watch the full interview above.
Mosseri’s score evokes feelings of warmth and nostalgia, matching the wondrous spirit at the heart of the A24 film, which tells the story of a Korean-American family who buy a farm in Arkansas. The composer built a full-bodied sound on top of foundational piano melodies, with a 40-string Macedonia orchestra. He added an older acoustic guitar to create a “textural, grounded earthy sound” reflective of the film’s natural environment. Because the film is set in the ’80s, he also included a subtle hint of ’80s synthesizer “to introduce some unsturdiness” to the sound.
While the score is quite soothing, it also contains elements of melancholy. Mosseri was hoping to be more true to life by infusing every track with a mix of emotions rather than a designated happy or sad cue. “My goal was to have sadness and nostalgia and longing and pain alongside more positivity, inspirational love, these types of feelings,” he explains. The composer observes that there is a great deal of struggle in the immigrant experience, so it was important to include those more sorrowful moments. “There had to be some struggle in the music, some dissonance and some darkness, too, but not have that overshadow the love that’s beating at the core of the family.”
Mosseri is earning awards recognition from critics for his “Minari” score, making him a possible contender for an Academy Award nomination. The composer admits it is a surreal experience but remarkable nonetheless. “It’s amazing to be part of the conversation alongside such amazing composers that I’ve been a fan of for so many years like Trent [Reznor] and Atticus [Ross], Terence [Blanchard], Ludwig [Göransson] and Tamar-kali.”
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