Carter Burwell’s Links to Genre Filmscoring

May 23, 2019

MISSING LINK: Carter Burwell Interview Posted Online

– Randall D. Larson

PopMatters screengrab CarterBurwell intvw promoThe website PopMatters has posted a fairly comprehensive interview with composer Carter Burwell (RAISING ARIZONA, FARGO, THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING MISSOURI). While the interview focuses on his scoring of the new animated fantasy/comedy MISSING LINK directed by Chris Butler (PARANORMAN), it also takes a walk through his career, based on some very good, wide-ranging questions by interviewer Robert Daniel Evers – how he started in film composing, how he got involved with the Coen Brothers and how he scored MILLER’S CROSSING, what he thinks of superhero scores, and the like.

“I don’t think there’s anything about the music that would have been different had it been a live action film of the same story,” Burwell said about his musical approach to MISSING LINK. “Even though you’re dealing with the Sasquatch, the emotions are completely true.”

MISSING LINK is Burwell’s second score for an animated film – Charlie Kaufman’s ANOMALISA (2015), a stop motion animated film, was the first. “I enjoy working on material that’s darker and more disturbing, more philosophical; however you’d like to put it. Usually, material where’s there’s more of a tense mix of psychological experiences,” Burwell told Evers. “This one tends to be more on the brighter side. So for me, that’s a challenge….”

Carter has made occasional forays into the fantasy and horror genre (PSYCHO III, the original BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER movie, JOE’S APARTMENT, BOOK OF SHADOWS: BLAIR WITCH 2, the first and last two films in the TWILIGHT series, ) but hasn’t found an assignment in science fiction yet, a genre he’d like to take one eventually. “Those films from my childhood were so important to me, films LIKE THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (Robert Wise, 1951) and THE FORBIDDEN PLANET (Fred M. Wilcox, 1956),” he said. “They had extraordinary scores because the films themselves were taking place in a different realm. The music could be different, it didn’t have to be a traditional orchestral score.”

Thanks to Robert Daniel Evers for a first-rate look behind the scenes at Carter Burwell, film composer. Read the full interview here.

Watch the trailer for MISSING LINK (does not feature Burwell’s music):


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