Composer Alexandre Desplat | Photo by Alex Bailey

Hit play below to listen to our Arts Alive feature with composer Alexandre Desplat.


Hit play below to listen to an extended interview with composer Alexandre Desplat.

Alexandre Desplat has been writing music for films since the late 1980s, but his invasion of Hollywood began in 2003 with Girl with a Pearl Earring, which introduced his hypnotic, Gallic, and flute-friendly style. Since then, the French composer—a skilled flute-player himself, obsessed with film music since he was a young boy—has become one of the finest and most coveted composers in town. He’s now the go-to guy for Wes Anderson, George Clooney, and Stephen Frears. He’s been nominated for eight Academy Awards—including for The Queen, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Philomena—and he won his first Oscar in 2014 for Wes Anderson’s quirky retro comedy, The Grand Budapest Hotel. He can now officially add another Oscar (and Golden Globe) win to his legacy with his work on The Shape of Water.

The latest auteur to crave Desplat’s elegant, neoclassical sound is Guillermo del Toro, the gothic Mexican director of Hellboy and Pan’s Labyrinth. Del Toro gave Desplat an interesting challenge: how would you score an adult fairy tale / Cold War noir thriller / erotic creature movie? That’s exactly what The Shape of Water is: an allegorical film, set in the 1950s but really set in the imagination of del Toro’s cinema-crowded mind, about a mute woman who works as a cleaner in a mysterious military lab… who falls in love with an exotic fish-like creature. It’s even stranger than it sounds, and, at least according to the Venice Film Festival who awarded it the Golden Lion—it’s a modern masterpiece.

A pair of Oscars kept company with the KUSC mug | Photo by Alexandre Desplat

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