Blade Runner 2049 director Denis Villeneuve clarified that his sudden decision to remove the film’s original composer Johann Johannsson and bring in Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch was to make it sound more like the movie’s predecessor. Ultimately, the decision came down to Villeneuve wanting to create something that was more faithful to the spirit of the original Blade Runner, a film that has come to be regarded as a classic of cinema in the 35 years since its release.
The original Blade Runner is memorable for many reasons, and high on that list is the synthesizer-heavy score composed by Vangelis. Though the original film’s innovative electronic score did not get an Oscar nomination, it was nominated by the Golden Globes and BAFTAs, and is now considered one of the great film scores of its era.
Speaking to Al Arabiya , Villeneuve explained that he decided to replace his original composer Johann Johannsson because he believed Blade Runner 2049 needed music that sounded more like Vangelis. Villeneuve and Johannsson had previously collaborated on three films, including Villeneuve’s Oscar-nominated science fiction drama Arrival, so it was somewhat of a surprise when the director and composer elected to part company on Blade Runner 2049. Villeneuve said:
“The thing I will say is that making movies is a laboratory. It’s an artistic process. You cannot plan things. Jóhann Jóhannsson is one of my favorite composers alive today. He’s a very strong artist. But the movie needed something different, and I needed to go back to something closer to Vangelis. Johan and I decided that I will need to go in another direction—that’s what I will say. I hope I have the chance to work with him again because I think he’s really a fantastic composer.”
Villeneuve had said in a previous interview that Johannsson’s original Blade Runner 2049 theme was still being used. Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch are themselves a proven team, having collaborated on the Oscar-nominated score for Hidden Figures. Zimmer is a rock star among today’s film composers, as evidenced by his wildly successful tour and well-received appearance at Coachella.
Reading between the lines of Villeneuve’s comments, it seems Johannsson was simply unwilling or unable to deliver a score that matched the director’s ideas of what Blade Runner 2049 should sound like. Sticking close to the synthesizer-heavy sound of the original Blade Runner score certainly seems like the right idea if you’re trying to tap into a certain nostalgia, but perhaps Johannsson wasn’t entirely comfortable with being asked to step into the shoes of someone like Vangelis.
As if getting removed from Blade Runner 2049 wasn’t enough, Johann Johannsson this year also suffered the semi-indignity of having the music he composed for Darren Aronofsky’s mother! removed from the film in favor of silence. But Aronofsky may yet collaborate with Johannsson on an operatic remake of mother!, so perhaps that score will one day have a chance to be heard.
Source: Al Arabiya
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