I have for a long time been meaning to write about the music for the movie STARDUST which was composed by Ilan Eshkeri, this large scale fully symphonic work is a soundtrack that I have returned to numerous times over the years and also have sat and watched the movie over and over and found it entertaining each time. Its an enjoyable fantasy swashbuckler and the score is as magical and exciting as the story line and the adventure that is unfolding on screen, The composer fashioned a beautifully melodic and dramatic soundtrack for the movie and it is in my very humble opinion a contemporary score but posses that sound that atmosphere and that rich and lush musical persona that we associate with days gone by in film music history, it is grand and powerful, wistful and romantic but above all it is an inspired and affective soundtrack that one will never tire of. Released in 2007 the movie and the score are still as attractive and fresh as they were when I first heard them, it is an accomplished and also a polished and wonderfully inventive score, the composer employing dark and driving strings which at times are accompanied and supported by pounding percussion and mysterious sounding themes that entice, engulf and fully engross the listener. The composer said of the film and the score.

“Stardust was my second film with director Matthew Vaughn. He gave me the script before the film went into production and the first piece of music I wrote was to one of Charles Vess’ illustrations in the original graphic novel. The illustration is called flying ship and the music is called flying vessel. I was writing on the set of the film which was really unusual and fun. I found it really inspiring to walk onto the set which was magnificent and awe inspiring. I wrote many themes for the movie but many of these didn’t make the final score. I worked closely with the band Take That on the song for the film RULE THE WORLD. The final minute of the film’s score is an intro to the song based on Gary Barlow’s chords. There are also elements of the song which relate to the score. ‘Take That’ were amazing to work with”.


The small English village of Wall conceals a mysterious secret, because through a gap in a wall that surrounds the village is the entrance to the Kingdom of Stormhold, which is realm filled with magic and what many think are fantastical creatures such as Unicorns. The Kingdom is filled with Witches and spells, it is a realm that is as beguiling and fascinating to mere Mortals as it is dangerous and evil. Tristan Thorn is a young inhabitant of the village and to impress his young lady vows to cross over into Stronghold to recover a falling star for her and if he returns She in turn promises to marry him. To the Young man’s surprise the falling star is more than that but is a celestial Princess who’s name is Yvaine. She is a fiesty individual and soon makes it quite clear that she is not beat pleased at being knocked out of the sky and brought down to earth and subsequently kidnapped. After a while Tristan and Yvaine realise that it is not only Tristan that wants to have the falling star as many others join in the hunt for it. Soon the unlikely couple find them selves pursued by Sky Pirates with their cross dressing Captain (Robert De Niro-in a tutu), warring heirs to the throne of the Kingdom and a trio of evil witches who plan to capture Yvaine and cut out her heart so they may eat it and rejuvenate their bodies and looks, giving them eternal youth and life.



Tristan has to fight on all sides and battle against swords, deception and sorcery in this exciting and exhilarating adventure romp.



The composers score lends much to the action scenes and also gives much support and enhancement to the romantic scenarios and adds greater depth and atmosphere to the movie as a whole, the thundering percussion and blaring horns in cues such as LAMIA’S LAIR for example is stunningly commanding and fearsome. The composer also gives us a fearful and foreboding piece in the cue LAMIA’S INN, which at first begins in a somewhat light mood, but soon develops into something a lot more sinister as the cue progress’s where we are treated to a slowly building ominous motif that slowly and deliberately increases in both tempo and volume into a booming and unstoppable tour de force for strings, low woodwind and percussive punctuation. I cannot recommend the score and the movie enough, with its impressive cast and fantastical settings and storyline, it is now I think a classic.



The new version of MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS has been met with varying reviews, the common criticism being that the movie is historically incorrect as in the two main characters Mary and Elizabeth never actually met. Well yes that is absolutely correct, but ponder this. How would have the storyline opened up and developed if the director had decided to be accurate and not let the two come face to face, would they have told it through a series of letters being shown on screen? I found the film entertaining and yes although Historically incorrect on a few things I still enjoyed it. The film also contains a pretty interesting musical score by composer Max Richter, he is a composer that I have to admit I am beginning to grow more and more fonder of with the release of each new score or musical work. I realise that many people will be comparing Richter’s soundtrack to that of John Barry’s score for the1971 version of this Royal tale of intrigue, skulduggery and betrayal. But for me there is no comparison to be made, as each are different and I have to say excellent in their own ways But it is the Richter score I am here to talk about. I found my self being drawn further and further into the soundtrack as it built and progressed, the composer creating and fashioning some striking and suitably regal sounding musical themes throughout its duration. Although this is a powerful work it is also a slightly fragile and understated score in places, but this I think adds to its appeal, the composer never seeming to overstep the mark and allowing the film itself to breath and the acting and cinematography to remain the main focus of the audience. In Richter’s score we hear the despair and the anxiety felt by the central characters, and the frustration, anger and the sadness that makes the story so fascinating, Interesting and compelling. The lighter and more uplifting moments of the soundtrack do however shine through at key moments along the way, keeping this a fresh and vibrantly beautiful work. There is certainly darkness and fearfulness purveyed by the ominous driving strings that are supported and punctuated by apprehensive percussion on more than one occasion, but these more sinister and dramatic moments are complimented amply by rich and haunting musical lines that envelop the listener. When hearing Richter’s score one knows that maybe all is not well because of the underlying sombre atmosphere but the music remains emotive and melodic, so lulls one into a false sense of security simply because the simplicity of the music is so rewarding and mesmerising. The composer has in my opinion done an excellent job on this movie and I recommend it without reservation.



Visionary and indie film maker Domiziano D. Cristopharo, took time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions about how he as a Director/Producer and Writer regards music in his films and his relationship with the composers.
As a film maker are you conscious about music or what style of music that you want for your movie as you are directing on set?

I started my Career in art fields as a singer and also a music producer, so I must say I’m very conscious about the music in my movies. I’m a perfectionist but I don’t like to do the music myself. I prefer collaborate with a handful of composers that share good vibes with me.



When spotting a movie with your chosen composer, do you allow them a certain amount of freedom with their creativity or do you tell them what specifics you have in mind regarding the music?
I only send the movie to the musician once the editing is done. First the movie should have its power and internal rhythm. When the movie works by itself then the music can be an emotional support. I always try to find a common line together, and work towards the right moods required for the film; some musicians love to do a certain style, but this does not always fit the movie style so, it is very important to find the correct sound or style first… then, the musician is free to express himself. And considering the huge amount of international music fest won by the scores of my film, I must say we do make the right choice’s!



How much time do you give a composer to create a score for your films?
It depends on the result we want. Alexander Cimini needed 2 years for complete the DARK WAVES score, while musicians like Sangiovanni and Susan DiBona in less that one month gave me a complete orchestration ready!


I have spoken to a few film makers who are at times reluctant to hand over their film to a composer, do you ever get the feeling that you have worked on this project for months maybe years and then along comes a composer who will score it and could potentially make it better or make it less impacting via his music. Do you have to trust a composer without when you ask them to work on your project?
My choices are never casual, and of course this risk is present… music can improve, add much or nothing to a movie, even destroy it. I had a few experiences with nice composers that just were not the right choice for the movie… but after 2 or 3 attempts I remove them from the commission and I fInd another. I’ll never release a film if I’m not completely satisfied of the result.



When do you like to bring a composer onto a project, do you send them a script or do you invite them to see the movie in its rough cut stage. And when do you first hear the music they have created, do they play it to you or send you a mock up of a theme or is it at the sessions to record it?
As I said I prefer to send the movie complete, its the best way for any composer to understand the film. A script can be many things. As for when I hear the music most composers send me a sample that then test on the film and if it works we go ahead step by step!



How do decide what composer is for what film. Is it by recommendation or do you see another movie and hear the music and think that is what I need for my movie?
I usually work with the same people, its the best choice. A successfully team doesn’t need to be changed. I crossed my street with theirs on different occasions, but first I choose a person to collaborate with in first line for the person he is. A good man or woman is more important than a good artist. Then when our energy can be melted in a positive way, we can co-operate. I’m not much into a cold exchange of work because I do Indie films.

Have you a favourite film score from one of your movies or any movie at all?



My thanks to the Director for taking the time to answer my questions.



I recently discovered and reviewed the music for the documentary BARBACANA which has a stunning score by composer Javier Arnanz. Its always great to hear music from a composer one is not familiar with and it is also interesting and ultimately rewarding and gratifying to discover more by that composer. I am pleased to say that I found more by Javier thanks to digital music site Spotify, and the two scores I found are equally beautiful and haunting as BARBACANA. They are both documentaries about wild life and are both outstanding works which are excellent within the context of supporting the films that they are written for, but both also take it to another level as they are dramatic and at times sinister and dark, but stand out to be lusciously tranquil and heart achingly fragile and melancholy away from any images, thus become successful as stand alone themes and music to be savoured and appreciated on its own merits.



The first is from a 2016 documentary A GENET’S TALE, this is a totally delightful and mesmerizingly romantic sounding score, with the composer utilising to great effect, strings, brass, solo voice, choir and sweeping symphonic crescendos. He also employs solo piano for the quieter and more intimate moments which are simple but beautifully written tone poems performed by woods and it is because of their simplicity that they are appealing and attractive. There is also a cheeky and rather quirky sound within some of the cues, when the composer employs fast paced and upbeat percussion, but for the most part it is lush, melodic and totally engulfing for any listener. The only problem with this score is that its too short, but I can always put it on repeat and listen to its magical and haunting musical persona all over again and when I do I discover more and feel deeper emotions because of its delicate and warm aura. I am not sure if there is or was a compact disc release of this score, but I am guessing because it is a short score no CD was issued, but you know record companies how about you release BARBACANA and GENET’S TALE with another score by this gifted and talented Maestro, is there one I here you ask,

genet 1


Well yes there is STORIES OF THE MEDITERRANEAN FOREST is the third documentary score, and again it is a melodic and accomplished work, by my calculations all three soundtracks have a combined duration of ninety minutes, so all three could go onto one CD surely, and what a release that would make. Watch out for Javier Arnanz he is a rising star in the world of music for film.





Released in 1988.HELLBOUND- HELLRAISER ll  is I think a more engrossing movie than the original. This bloody sequel stars many of the cast that featured in HELLRAISER and was written by the original movies director Clive Barker with this time directorial duties being undertaken by Tony Randall. It is I suppose an explanation of how Hellraiser came about or at least some of the events that led up to Pin Head becoming a Cenobite. The score by Christopher Young obviously contains the macabre sounding waltzl-ike central theme from the original score which was also composed by Young. However HELLRAISER ll the score is in many ways more polished and certainly more grandiose if that is at all possible, within the score there are many nods of recognition to the work of  two Hollywood Maestros Bernard Hermann being the predominant force and Jerry Goldsmith the other.  Growling brass, booming percussion and sweeping strings are all present and are engulfed and elevated to even greater heights by the composers creative use of powerful choral accompaniment and an array of interesting percussive elements and strange sounds that act as a foundation on which the composer builds the remainder of the score. But, I will add that this is not just a score of darkness, chaos, fearfulness and uneasy sounding melodies, HELLRAISER ll has a more romantic side to it if only in a fleeting way, with Young adding a beautiful but at the same time apprehensive sound to the proceedings these rare moments are a pool of calm within a score that is filled with fearsome, guttural and virulent sounding musical passages. The sound achieved by Young for this score I would not say is innovative or even original in fact the composer serves up a text book horror score grand and commanding themes dominating the action cues or moments of gory and unspeakable horrors and sliding, icy and sinewy strings taking hold in the quieter moments or shall we say less full on sections of the storyline. The score has recently been re-issued in a re mastered format to commemorate its 30th Anniversary, and thirty years on it is still terrifying and chilling.




The track HALL OF MIRRORS is an example of the offbeat and menacing atmosphere that drifts in and out of the work, a macabre and sinister off kilter fairground tune that really gets inside your head opens the cue, I say it gets inside your head, because one straight away associates this kind of tune with fun but it is soon apparent that things will be everything but hilarity and enjoyment as it descends into a collection of echoing sounds and crashes that are less than comforting, with the fairground tune being faded in then out which plays havoc with the listeners emotions. The same can be said of the cue CHEMICAL ENTERTAINMENT which is a fusion of swirling and twisted strings and wild percussion that creates a harrowing and tormented atmosphere.  You must add this classic to your collection. Its ominous and strangely attractive hypnotic sounds will delight and enthral you.