Harry Gregson-Williams interview: ‘Mulan’ composer
“At the heart of it is the emotional arc that I was able to give Mulan,” explains Emmy, Grammy, Golden Globe and BAFTA-nominated composer Harry Gregson-Williams about his acclaimed score for the Disney live action remake of its beloved 1998 animated feature “Mulan.”
“There was a great canvas there. We see her as a little girl fooling about in the village and then we see her saving everybody’s bacon at the end,” he says. “That’s a nice trip to go on musically.” Watch our exclusive video interview with Gregson-Williams above.
The $200 million China-set action epic about girl warrior Hua Mulan was directed by Niki Caro (“Whale Rider”) and stars actress Liu Yifei in the title role. After the film’s intended multiplex rollout was thwarted in March by the coronavirus pandemic, the studio shifted it to its Disney+ platform and started streaming stateside last fall.
For Gregson-Williams, it was key to breathe life into Caro’s vision for the film as not only an action war film, but a moving story of female empowerment. To that end, while he greatly admired the original animated classic and its Oscar-nominated score, Gregson-Williams worked tirelessly to deliver a completely new sound for this age-old story. His score balances thunderous anthems underscoring the film’s action set pieces, melodic themes that enhance the film’s romantic and emotional arcs, and muscular percussive elements that attach to the film’s chief antagonist marauding hordes from the north.
“I had to actually ban the original movie in my house as I have children of the age that maybe ant to be watching the original movie,” he admits. “I, like a lot of people, really loved the original movie and was a great admirer of Jerry Goldsmith‘s score. Treading in those big old footprints was an honor and a thrill, really and also quite intimidating!”