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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: 'The Imitation Game' Composer Alexandre Desplat Talks Scoring New Alan Turing WWII Biopic Movie & Making Music For Film [LISTEN]

by Jon Niles   Nov 28, 2014 17:42 PM EST

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The Imitation Game tells the true story of Alan Turing and his task of breaking the Enigma code during World War II, while also dealing with his personal life as a closeted homosexual during a time when such a lifestyle was illegal. This dramatic motion picture has a star-studded cast including Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley and Matthew Goode, but to really engross the audience in the film, composer Alexandre Desplat was brought in to take on the musical score. Check out our exclusive interview with the multi-talented composer right here!

The critically acclaimed, six-time Oscar nominee has a plethora of impressive film scores to his name, but when he recently spoke with us about his latest release, Desplat explained that, while he puts his all into each project, the power of this story really made him proud to be involved. 

How did you get into your line of work, composing for film?

I always wanted to be a film composer, for as long as I could remember. When I was a young professional musician and I always had in mind that I wanted to compose for cinema. First I did a short movie, and then a feature, and another feature, and a short, and then before I did Girl With a Pearl Earring, I just wanted to do feature films, and that's how I began.

More specifically, how did you get involved with The Imitation Game?

Actually I was called as the movie was completed already, to finish the process. So I had the opportunity to write the score and I jumped on it. I jumped on the plane to come here and meet Morten Tyldum, the director- fantastic director- and work with him closely, and we nailed it in three weeks.

That's actually pretty interesting that you came on after. Did that affect the process in anyways compared to other projects you've done?

I'm trying to compose it quickly, and there were times before that I had to write in a very short time like Girl With a Pearl Earring or The Queen, or something that had to be very fast. So it's hard work, you don't sleep much for about three weeks, but you get it across. This movie is so incredible it does allow you to be entranced, because you're actually following the problems of the characters and plot, so it was a very inspiring film and project.

How much creative freedom did you have while composing?

As much as they can give you, which is a lot. It belongs to the director, you're not here to show off and do your own free artist masterpiece, and you're here to join a team. So you try to be yourself and have a strong voice, on that level, collaboration with the artists have to be perfect and pristine.

You mentioned a little about how powerful the story was, there's a lot of themes involved with the movie, one being the war, but also his personal life. Were there any contrasting or specific themes that you focused on for those sides of the story, or was it more like an overall feel for you?

I like when, in music, when we pack a punch, which is several melody lines, pulling in the same direction. This was actually cutting for that, because there is the war, but it's not the main element, the war is just the drum that you beat and to just create another energy. The movie is more about him, he's got a genius mind and he's solo, kind of restraining emotions that he's carrying that we don't quite understand when the movie starts. He's so difficult with the others and then you understand why this is happening and why he's so different. The music is giving some clues and engaging the audience in his solo pains. It's never trying to feel miserable at all. It's always respecting his dignity.

You can stream some preview clips of Alexandre's work for this movie soundtrack here!

You mentioned you played the flute. Was that the first instrument you learned how to play?

No, first was the cello and then the trumpet. Then I chose the flute when I was ten.

What would you say is your instrument to write for and also to play?

Flute.

Why is that?

Because I was a flutist. When you have fluidity on an instrument, you know it very well. The flute is what I know the best, so I can write anything of it with fast fluidity.

Do you have any advice for anyone that's trying to get into the composition world? 

Well, watch movie and listen to the scores and listen how the work with the film. That's as much as I can give.

Is that how you got into it?

Yes. Just watching movies again and again. Listen to it to understand why there is the matching, where music was coming in.

For more information about Alexandre Desplat, you can check out his official website!

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