Gore Verbinski Talks "Rango," Spaghetti Westerns, Hans Zimmer and His Playlist
Wed, 02 Mar 2011 09:43:30
Ennio Morricone Photos
Monster Magnet Videos
Though he's known the world over as the man responsible for The Pirates of the Caribbean (Film Series) trilogy and The Ring, director Gore Verbinski is also no novice when it comes to music. The soft spoken 46-year-old, whose first animated film, Rango hits theaters this Friday, has played guitar professionally in no less than two punk bands, Little Kings and Daredevil, where he played alongside future Bad Religion guitarist and Epitaph Records owner Brett Gurewitz.
Not only that, but before he took to helming feature films, he directed music videos for the likes of Bad Religion, NOFX, and Monster Magnet.
Given that background, it's not surprising that he pays special attention to the musical aspect of his films, particularly the created-from-scratch world of Rango. In the film, Johnny Depp voices a lizard who stumbles into a tried and true Western, filled homages and references to the films that defined the genre.
Musically, the score is rich with allusions to the work of the legendary Ennio Morricone, who composed the scores for Sergio Leone's Spaghetti Westerns, including The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, and Once Upon a Time in The West. Verbinski says that these were the films that served as his early entry into the genre, explaining, "I am a huge fan of the western. Mostly the postmodern western, I would say. I came into it really young, kind of age inappropriate, watching Duck, You Sucker and Sam Peckinpah and Sergio Leone films."
Morricone's scores included the infusion of ever-escalating electric guitar riffs, seemingly out of place in a period film, but a perfect fit for the attitude of the reinvented Western. Verbinski's approach to the music of Rango began with a guitar as well. "The first 16 months, a lot of guitars,a microphone, a MacIntosh, just sketches of, mostly of the mariachi," he says, referring to an owl-mariachi band who act as a sort of Greek Chorus in the film. "That gave us a little bit of a kind of peripheral sense of the landscape."
To compose the actual score, Verbinski brought in his Pirates of the Caribbean collaborator Hans Zimmer, who also composed the accompaniment for The Dark Knight, Gladiator, and Sherlock Holmes. Verbinski says that Zimmer has an unconventional approach. "Trying to describe Hans, he has a great way of asking a lot of questions, because he doesn’t read the script or want to watch the story reel, he wants to sit and asks questions."
Talking with Zimmer allowed the duo to discover the unexpected thematic core of Rango's score, schadenfreude. "Halfway through me describing this, the joy of the demise that’s always sort of looming over this character, [Zimmer] said, 'We have a word, schadenfraude,' which is a German word. Only the Germans would have this word, which is the delight in someone else's misery." Once Zimmer and Verbinski alighted on that idea, the director says, "that became, you know, more schadenfreude, more schadenfreude. Anytime we were working on a tune, that was sort of the mantra."
As for his own personal playlist, Verbinski, who will next reunite with Johnny Depp for a big screen The Lone Ranger, says, "Right now, I'm listening to John Grant, Queen of Denmark," the first solo album from The Czars frontman. "That's my wake up," the director enthuses. "Chicken Bones is my wake up."
Will you be seeing Rango on Friday March 4, 2011?