Alexandre Desplat, the French composer tasked with creating the score for Greta Gerwig’s new film Little Women, has revealed how the music of David Bowie has influenced his current work.
The film, a coming-of-age period drama which has been written and directed by Gerwig, has a star-studded cast which includes the likes of Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Laura Dern, Timothée Chalamet, Meryl Streep and more.
The picture, which arrives as the eighth film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s 1868 novel of the same name, explores the lives of the March sisters in 1860s New England in the aftermath of the American Civil War.
Desplat, who has already claimed two Oscar victories for his musical work on The Grand Budapest Hotel and for The Shape of Water, arrived as the latest big name to be attached to the project and was tasked with tapping into the mind of Gerwig who had a particularly distinct direction for the score. “I always try to ask, ‘What do you expect from me as the composer? Do you want me to do something grand? Melancholic? Lush? Huge? Small?’,” Desplat told Billboard of his early conversations with Gerwig. “She said with enthusiasm, ‘I’d like the music to be a mix of Mozart meeting Bowie’,” he added.
Desplat continued: “It doesn’t mean anything, but it does mean something if you let the energy come into your system and you get something of that and this opening is about that.”
The composer, who joined the Little Women project in April this year, has vast experience having worked prolifically on both low-budget independent productions as well as large-scale Hollywood blockbusters. When asked how he interpreted a Mozart and Bowie mashup, he explained: “I think energy, pulse, melodies, joy and rhythm because Mozart has a lot of rhythm. And Bowie, of course, there’s something pop about the art direction of this film. The way they dance—they don’t dance like they would be in a period movie with every moment tailored like it’s 1867.
“[Gerwig] took the challenge of making them dance differently and have fun and be excited like kids nowadays would dance if they were 15 or 13. There’s a youth about Mozart, because we know Mozart was a child all his life, and for Bowie, there’s something extravagant about him that we see in their characters—they want to be different, they all want to be artists, except for Meg maybe.”
Greta Gerwig’s new film Little Women received its world premiere at Museum of Modern Art in New York City on December 7, 2019, and will be released internationally on December 27th.