The Soundtrack That Inspired Me

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With clipboard in hand and clad in finest doorbell-ringing attire, Empire's soundtracks celebration has gone door-to-door with some of our favourite actor, filmmakers and composer to find out which scores, soundtracks and movie music have most inspired them down the years. From stirring symphonies to magical motifs, here's what Danny Boyle, Tom Hooper, Danny Elfman, Hans Zimmer, Jude Law and others picked...

"My dad had High Noon in his record collection, but that was his purchase not mine. My first was A Clockwork Orange on vinyl. I bought it when the film came out and it’s an astonishing soundtrack in its eclecticism and the risks it takes in terms of tone. Kubrick did that, and then Scorsese became very particular in using pop songs as a particular evocation of a period or a mood, so we follow very much in that tradition. But A Clockwork Orange has been a huge influence on me. Usually film composition has to hide in the background and often you’re unaware of it, but I like it when it’s on the front foot and you play it loud, when it’s strong and self-conscious. With Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours and now on Trance, we’ve tried to maintain that instinct for boldness and front."

"The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg was a key inspiration for Les Misérables. Along with Tommy and Evita, it’s one of only three sung-through musicals that I’m aware of, and I like it because it has this disjunct between the singing form and the ordinary realism of the setting. I found that incredibly exciting and energising. It’s a through-sung musical that starts with a garage mechanic going into a changing room and getting changed for a date. It made me realise that the very thing that might frighten you about musicals – the fact that the singing doesn’t fit – creates a very interesting tension at the heart of what you’re doing."

"There are two soundtracks that spring to mind. The first is Morricone’s Once Upon A Time In The West I went and saw it live about ten years ago. Morricone performed it at the Royal Albert Hall and it was amazing – they had the choir and all those mad sound effects. The other one is Drugstore Cowboy, which is a fantastic soundtrack."

"As a younger man and onwards, it was Blade Runner, which is a remarkable piece of score from a remarkable film, a labour of love. But another piece of music I love is Mr Bean’s Holiday – and you can quote me on that on! It’s a little strange - it’s not Hans Zimmer or Inception as you’d expect – but not really if you watch the film as much as I have. Howard Goodall’s music is a remarkable piece of film scoring. There are many others too. The music from French Connection was amazing; the score for Apocalypse Now was extraordinary. More recently the score for Batman Returns… or Batman Has Breakfast!"

"It’s the soundtrack to Monsters by a musician called Jon Hopkins. I love his music and discovered the film – which is fantastic, too – by listening to the soundtrack. I love the variety of it, how visual that soundtrack is, how perfectly it fits what you’re seeing, and how unusual it is. I like scores that use unusualy techniques and instruments and just really paint pictures for you. There are some soundtracks that are almost too visual to work away from the film, but this definitely isn’t one of them. I met Gareth Edwards at Empire’s Big Screen event and told him that I discovered his film through the soundtrack. I’m not sure how happy he was about that!"

"This was the first film score I ever really noticed, aged about 10. It made me aware that a person actually wrote these things – that they didn't come from clouds or from space! After this I noticed Herrmann’s name on all of my favourite films, from Jason And The Argonauts, The 7th Voyage Of Sinbad and other fantasy films he did. Every time I saw his name on a movie, I paid attention. Then I rediscovered him in my teens through my newly-found infatuation with Alfred Hitchcock. I still think that North By Northwest, Vertigo and of course Psycho are three of the best film scores ever written. I was always a big film music fan – I’d pride myself on being able to recognise Max Steiner and Jerry Goldsmith’s scores and I loved Nino Rota’s Fellini scores – but Herrmann was my great inspiration."

"When we first met in about 1996, one thing that Darren Aronofsky and I agreed on was that we hated film music – we just thought it was rubbish at that time – but one score we agreed on was Halloween and John Carpenter. There was a lot of movie music out there but you couldn’t get at it all like you can now, so Halloween was one that really crept into the consciousness. It was a global touchstone for a lot of people. Carpenter’s approach to scoring them created a whole new genre and influenced so many films. Assault On Precinct 13 was another. I’ve never actually met John Carpenter – I was approached to score The Ward, but there was a lot of hoopla around it and it didn’t feel right to me – but his scores were like a germ that grew in me over the years."

"Once Upon A Time In The West is pretty much the first movie I saw. It was life changing, because I suddenly went, 'Hang on a second! Images and music - that's interesting...' And all these Ennio Morricone scores are just so masterful and so brilliant, so take any Morricone score. I just listen to them in desperation, if I want to feel really inadequate. And then if I want to feel really, really bad, I listen to Close Encounters, which to me feels like one of the great pieces of 20th century concert music. It's an outrageously well-crafted piece of work."

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