Composer Spotlight: Film Scores by Alexandre Desplat

The only thing that I can say about Alexandre Desplat (pronounced “Alexander Deh-plah”) is “how in the righteous F***?” But this is what I say about all composers of music. It boggles my mind how anyone can create coherent melodies from the jumbled mess that is human brain juice, but film composers are living proof that it is indeed possible.

Desplat was born in 1961–in Paris–to two beautiful human beings who were able to raise him with a love for music both foreign and domestic, which gave him a wider appreciation for worldly tunes. Desplat began playing the piano at the age of 5, loves jazz (score! Forgive me Father, for I have punned) and says he is heavily influenced by South American and African music.

Desplat is one of my favorite composers, less so because of what he’s done, and more so because of what he chooses to do. (To get a sense of Desplat’s quantity of work, think “more than Michael Giacchino, but less than John Williams.”) What I mean by this is that Desplat works on films both large and small, on movies produced in Hollywood and elsewhere. He doesn’t limit himself in the slightest:

Over the past 15 years, I’ve been able to build a voice, something that looks like me. I don’t know if it’s a “new” voice as some say, it’s not within my ability to say–but I write what I like! So it’s “me.” I come from France, and I’ve worked here, and in England, and Spain, and I’m not going to dump the past 15 years of my life when I come to Hollywood. I will still improve by doing a European movie once in a while, because there’s a different approach to film scoring. Even a film with a small budget–I don’t care, as long as I can be creative. And being creative is the way to move forward.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying that other composers limit themselves, only that Desplat has a unique perspective in nurturing his own creativity. Indeed, it seems that only months after working on low(ish) budget, slice-of-life film Julie & Julia (2009), Desplat’s back in the studio composing for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2010). And then within the same year, he’s back to piano-driven pieces with The King’s Speech (2010).

So, without further ado, let’s get to the music. Feel free to add your favorites below!

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