‘Napoleon’ Composer Martin Phipps On Getting Into The Head Of An Outsider – Sound & Screen Film

‘Napoleon’ Composer Martin Phipps On Getting Into The Head Of An Outsider – Sound & Screen Film

When creating a score to fit the nuanced humanity of the man on a brutal warpath, composer Martin Phipps had quite the challenge. It only became that much more complex when he reached out to director Ridley Scott, who offered him no specifics on a musical theme.

“He’s a super smart guy, and he talks about other things, but getting him to talk about the music was quite hard. I didn’t get many conversations with him,” Phipps told Deadline onstage at the Sound & Screen: Film concert event. “But when he did talk about [the score], he was really talking about the character and not being prescriptive about the music. [He didn’t say], I want this kind of piece, I want strings or horns.”

More from Deadline

But what Scott lacked in musical specificity, he made up for in getting Phipps to at least understand where Napoleon was coming from before and during his rise to the French throne, the focus of the Columbia Pictures and Apple Original Film movie that stars Joaquin Phoenix and hits theaters November 22.

“[Scott wanted me] to understand that Napoleon was a character and that he was an outsider. He wasn’t a polished aristocrat like many of the officers were in the army, and that’s, in fact, why he escaped the guillotine because he was a low-ranking aristocrat. And he wanted me to represent that in music,” Phipps said. “He wanted the sense that [Napoleon] was not a super popular guy; he was just a relatively simple, straightforward guy. He was a bit of a fighter. So, we went with something simple, something almost like a gangsters-type level of tune. We use trumpets and a simple waltz. We got into his head a little bit.”

Phipps also talked about how he tracked down a centuries-old piano that Napoleon previously owned for the score.

Check out the panel video above.

cnx.cmd.push(function() { cnx({ settings: { plugins: { pmcAtlasMG: { iabPlcmt: 1, } } }, playerId: "1d932e57-b397-4448-b4b7-d30563744457", mediaId: "652d6b3d-187a-4805-9231-eb33f7fc278b", }).render("connatix_contextual_player_652d6b3d-187a-4805-9231-eb33f7fc278b_4"); });

Best of Deadline

Sign up for Deadline's Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.