Smaak, stijl en (on)originaliteit

Afgelopen weekend heb ik de film The Judge weer eens terug gekeken. De filmmuziek van Thomas Newman is valt onder de categorie “beste scores waarvan ik de cd nog niet heb” en ik heb daar dan ook erg van genoten tijdens het kijken.

Tijdens mijn kwartiertje onderzoek vanmorgen kwam ik deze review tegen met daarin een interessante vraag rondom Newman’s stijl en gebrek en ontwikkeling en originaliteit (zelf-plagiaat zo u wilt). Hier maakt de schrijver de vergelijking met The Equalizer van Harry Gregson-Williams.

In my recent review of The Equalizer, I wrote: “before I listened to the score, and before I saw the film, I knew exactly what this score would sound like, based purely on the name of the director, the name of the composer, and the genre of the film, and I was right.” In the case of The Equalizer, this was a negative thing, because that score was written in a style I generally don’t care for. In the case of The Judge, I could say exactly the same thing. If you have heard any of Thomas Newman’s pleasant drama scores over the years – The Help, Saving Mr. Banks, going all the way back to things like The Horse Whisperer and even Whispers in the Dark – then you will know exactly what this score sounds like. Gentle, intimate string writing. Quirky struck and plucked percussion items. Appealingly warm orchestrations. It’s all really agreeable and charming, and anyone with an affinity for Newman’s style will find it much to their liking. But, having criticized Harry Gregson-Williams for his unoriginality, can I then turn around and praise Thomas Newman for writing music that is just as unoriginal, but which I find more to my taste?

Zijn conclusie aan het eind is dan ook als volgt:

Much of The Judge plays like a Thomas Newman Greatest Hits album, and although I find this music very enjoyable to listen to, to I have point it out as the album’s major drawback. If I’m not letting Harry Gregson-Williams get away with it for The Equalizer, I can’t let Thomas Newman get a free pass either.

Harry Gregson-Williams praat over The Meg

Harry Gregson-Williams over zijn werk voor de film The Meg:

What attracted you to both films [The Meg and The Equalizer 2]?

[…] Now, the Meg was a completely different scenario. The film at that point was called Meg and I couldn’t help thinking of Meg Ryan. I thought, do I want to be doing a romantic comedy. An then they send me the script and I said: ok, well I’ve never done anything like this. But quite honestly, for me veriety is certainly the spice of life and it’s something that I look for and hope for.

I don’t want to give the impression that I just sit around and pick and choose my own movies – I’m Harry Gregson-Williams, not John Williams. Obviously, if you come across my desk, if I am lucky enough to get an interview; that’s how these things go. And you never know exactly who the director is seeing. Ben Afleck, I’ve done his films since his first film Gone Baby Gone, he constantly reminds me that he wanted Thomas Newman to score. Not only Gone Baby Gone, but The Town and every film since then. I’m sure, if I were directing a film I wanted Thomas Newman to do i myself. So I don’t know who else Jon [Turteltaub] met for The Meg. Maybe he met a bunch of bozos and then decides I was probably the least evil of the lot.

When we met we had a lovely meeting and the first thing he said was: “Harry, don’t worry about it. You might have part of your name as Williams and my last name is definitly not Spielberg, so we are not going to try and make that [Jaws], we’ll try and make the second best Shark movie ever.” I liked his attitude, he knew what he was making. It was a bit disappointing that some people who reviewed or saw the movie missed the point. It is what it is and Jon never tried to make it anything else; we tried to make it the best it possibly could be for what it is. Hopefully it is just really great summer entertainment.


We spent months and months working on a film without a bloody shark in it. The visual effects come in very late, and there was a kind of swoosh of water and Jon would say: “Well? What are you doing musically?” And i’m like: “What do you mean? There’s a wave? What do you want from me?” And he said: “Man, the Megalodon just went by!” I said: “Well, thanks for telling me.” That’s a slight exaggeration, but we were, excuse the pun, we were fishing for ideas. But when the effects started coming in we knew what we were up against, we knew it was going to be humongoes and it needed to be. The first real you see the Megalodon instead of goin all dark and dangerous I chose to portray a kind of majesty with the music as it actually swims over the top. Because she is looking at it, not with so much horror but like “What the hell is that?” So there were a lot of ways to go. Obviously there were a few shockers in there and we wanted to underline that musically.

But it was great fun from beginning to end and I am pleased that people seem to have seen it and take it for what you’re supposed to, which is a bunch of enjoyment. You know, when you have Jason Statham on board it’s difficult to take everything seriously because there is something physically humorous about the way he kind of goes through his paces. […]

Dit is een transcriptie van een fragment uit een interview door ‘Unger the Radar’ met Harry Gregson-Williams in de zomer van 2018.

Hier hoor je het volledige interview.