No film score exists without a director, and every director has their own take on how to use music, and what the purpose of music in film is. Peter Weir didn’t even hire a composer for his breakout film, Picnic at Hanging Rock, and he only licensed existing music on his follow-up, Gallipoli. But even when he hired a composer, Weir continued to license existing music tracks all along the way, and he used some of those tracks—from Vangelis to Gorecki—for critical moments.
…which brings us to The Truman Show—my very personal, very selfish reason for having Weir on the podcast. This is the 20th anniversary of that masterpiece of a movie, which starred Jim Carrey as a man who was cast, as a baby, in the original reality show—where everyone around him is an actor and everything is a lie… and he has absolutely no clue. It’s one of my favorite movies of all time, and even though I’m usually one who complains when a director tracks their movie with existing music rather than hiring a composer to write custom-tailored score, The Truman Show soundtrack is a perfectly-calibrated, masterfully used collage of old and new Philip Glass music (Glass actually has a cameo in the film), a gorgeous Chopin concerto, a heartbreaking piece by the Polish composer Wojciech Kilar, and some original score by Australian composer Burkhard Dallwitz.
I used the anniversary as an excuse to call up Weir in Australia. We talked about the power of the 20-year-old film, my own personal history with it, Weir’s unique philosophy about music in films… and so much more.