Alexandre Desplat Interview: ‘The Shape of Water’ composer
During our recent webcam chat (watch the exclusive video above), composer Alexandre Desplat reveals that upon seeing “The Shape of Water” for the first time, he was “in awe by the beauty of it.” Directed by Guillermo Del Toro, this Cold War era drama centers on a mute woman named Eliza (Sally Hawkins), who works as a maid in a top-secret government lab. She meets and falls in love with a giant fish man (Doug Jones), and must help him escape before he is dissected by either American scientists or Russian spies. In his score, the Oscar-winning tunesmith hoped to “convey to the audience the depth of love” and to “help us pick out who’s human, [and] who’s a monster.”
Because the two main characters cannot speak, Desplat’s score had to provide them with words. “Music being an intangible object, it can convey emotions that aren’t spoken and seen,” he explains. In the case of this film, “the opportunity is offered for the composer to give Eliza… a voice, and the creature, somehow, a counterpoint to Eliza’s voice.” He adds, “Slowly but surely, the combination of the instruments and the motifs becomes one organic object, which is love.”
Desplat won his first Oscar for scoring Wes Anderson‘s “The Grand Budapest Hotel” (2014). He previously contended for “The Queen” (2006), “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (2008), “Fantastic Mr. Fox” (2009), “The King’s Speech” (2010), “Argo” (2012), “Philomena” (2013), and “The Imitation Game” (2014). This year has been a prolific one with “Suburbicon,” “Based on a True Story,” and “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.”
“The Shape of Water” opens in New York on December 1 before expanding wide on December 8. The film also stars Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Octavia Spencer, and Michael Stuhlbarg.