'Into the soul' of movies digs composer Desplat

By Jake Coyle

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Feb. 17 2011 12:00 a.m. MST

"When I think I have found what the music should be, I can feel a vibration as I'm playing the music and watching at the same time," Desplat says. "If you change the music of 'Vertigo,' I'm sure the vibration would go away."

For "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," a film in which the main character ages backward, he created musical palindromes. In "New Moon," he reflected Bella's indecision between her two suitors (Edward and Jacob) by blending their themes.

Chris Weitz has worked with Desplat on three very different films: "New Moon," the fantasy epic "The Golden Compass" and the upcoming illegal immigrant drama "A Better Life." He convenes with Desplat at his Montparnasse apartment in Paris, which includes a studio.

"It's kind of sinfully fun," says Weitz. "You're sitting around, every once in a while a cat will wander in and take a seat on the couch. You sit around and talk about the day and life and eat biscuits and sip coffee."

"You get the sense that you're both trying to improve the movie, rather than just knocking around notes," says Weitz.

Desplat was particularly challenged in scoring the much-anticipated "The Tree of Life" (out in May), by the rarely active Terrence Malick. On Malick's wishes, Desplat composed the score without seeing any of the footage, providing music to the director for several years.

It's all an incredible load for any composer, especially one as dedicated as Desplat.

"It's a very, very lucky moment and I don't want to stop that moment," says Desplat. "It's what I dreamed to do, and I want to keep the dream going."

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