Composer Alexandre Desplat has made seven films with George Clooney, either as producer or director — including the Oscar-winning “Argo” and the Oscar-nominated “Syriana” — but creating music for “The Midnight Sky” may have been the their biggest challenge to date.
“Music is a character in this film because a good portion of it is silent,” Clooney tells Variety. “My intent was for the film to be a meditation. Music had to be our language — not just highlighting moments of sadness or terror, but also to carry the emotion all the way through. Music was always going to be as big a character as any of the actors.”
Desplat recalls that Clooney wanted him “to carry the emotion of the characters, and both the intimacy and the wide scope of the story, which is quite a challenge,” says the two-time Academy Award winner for best original score. “You have to do something that is gentle and contemplative, but it’s also a tragedy about death, about the end of Earth. … It’s more internal, about regret and suffering and the future of mankind, but seen through the eyes of real people. It’s not a crowd. There are no battles. So I had a very large string orchestra, a section of brass, a few woodwinds and some electronics.”
Composer and director talked “almost every day for a couple of months, until we recorded,” Desplat notes. “He understands music. His aunt, Rosemary Clooney, was a great singer, so he loves music, and you can feel it in his eyes when he listens.”
Says Clooney: “Alexandre is a good friend; and he is also my favorite composer in the world. He is not just a great composer but a great technician as well. As wonderful a collaborator as they come.”
In this exclusive clip from Netflix, director and composer talk about their collaboration and the challenge of recording approximately 90 minutes of music with a London orchestra during a pandemic: