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Alexandre Desplat Scoring Kathryn Bigelow's Bin Laden Film 'Zero Dark Thirty'

by Oliver Lyttelton
September 17, 2012 6:00 PM
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Alexandre Desplat Zero Dark Thirty

We don't know if we'd call Alexandre Desplat the best working composer -- although an argument could certainly be made for that. But we'd certainly call him one of the most prolific. Since the French composer broke out a decade or so ago with "Girl With A Pearl Earring" and the amazing music for "Birth," he's been in high demand, and ever more so as time goes on. In 2011, for instance, he penned the music for no fewer than NINE films -- "Largo Winch II: The Burma Conspiracy," "The Well Digger's Daughter," "A Better Life," "The Tree Of Life," "Carnage," "The Ides Of March," "Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Pt. 2," "Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close" and "Roman Polanski: A Film Memoir."

This year he's kept to the same pace, with scores for "Cloclo," "Max Von Sydow: Dialogues With The Renter," "Moonrise Kingdom," "Rust & Bone," "Reality," "A Therapy," "Renoir," "Argo" and "Rise Of The Guardians" all unveiled, or still in the works. But it looks like he's determined to break his own personal record, as according to Film Music Reporter, Desplat's taken on one more project due for release before the end of 2012, as the site's announced that the composer will score Kathryn Bigelow's hunt-for-Bin-Laden procedural "Zero Dark Thirty."

Bigelow has a history of working with a wide range of composers -- Marco Beltrami & Buck Sanders were behind the music for her last film, the Oscar-winning "The Hurt Locker." Desplat's a great choice, and it should be something quite different for him: there's not much on his CV to compare with the film. Could it finally provide him with an Oscar (he's been nominated four times, but never won)? Well, we'll have to wait a few months to find out. "Zero Dark Thirty" stars Joel Edgerton, Jason Clarke, Jessica Chastain, Mark Strong, Chris Pratt, Mark Duplass, Harold Perrineau, Jennifer Ehle, Kyle Chandler, Edgar Ramirez, Frank Grillo, Stephen Dillane and Fares Fares, and hits theaters on December 19th.

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  • JD | September 17, 2012 11:57 PMReply

    "an argument could be made for that"....WHAT?!?! May I just briefly mention that John Williams, Ennio Morricone, Philip Glass, Micheal Giaccono, Hans Zimmer, Alan Silvestri, Danny Elfman, Mycheal Danna, Angelo Badalementi, and Howard Shore are all still working? I mean, Desplat's good, but is anybody gonna seriously argue that he's better then those guys?

  • DjembaDjemba | September 18, 2012 8:51 AM

    Yes, that's a very debatable claim. Desplat has recently become something of a hack for hire, filling in midway through established franchises, never really establishing a long-term relationship with a particular director (like Williams/Spielberg, Giacchino/Abrams, etc.) and delivering some very anemic, listless scores in the process. His best in recent years was probably The Tree of Life, half of which didn't even make its way into the finished film. He's good when he wants to be, but delivering more just an acceptable option than truly memorable scores.

  • Huffy | September 18, 2012 2:33 AM

    He's a lot better than Zimmer, who's talented but whose scores rarely actually enhance films. The other guys probably not.

  • bubbatwo420 | September 17, 2012 6:14 PMReply

    Love most of Desplat's work even though it's very minimal so we'll see if he can get some action beats in here - we all know that Giachhino is the greatest working composer today though, hands down. I get goosebumps listening to how similar his work is to Johnny Williams sometimes and think the buck has already been passed. Just listen to some of the score for Super 8....

  • David | October 5, 2012 2:30 PM

    Check Desplat's score for Syriana, he blends middle eastern sounds and instruments with orchestra flawlessly. And he's doing the same with Argo.

    Desplat is perphaps the best composer in recent years, because he doesn't get pigeonholed in a single style like most of composers, all his scores in recent years are very diverse. Small, big, epic, romantic, minimalistic, atonal, ethnic, lighter.

    I agree about Giacchino, though. He has the old school style from Williams, but a sound of his own.

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