Clint Mansell

Owain Paciuszko 06/05/2009

Like a fine wine or a good cheese Clint Mansell seems to be improving with every step of his journey; from front man of rock/dance band Pop Will Eat Itself to his current guise as one of the most consistently entrancing composers in film music, Mansell has created soundtracks that have perfectly encapsulated the feeling of the films and gone on to popular appeal via displacment into other media. With the recent release and awards success of his latest collaboration with Darren Aronofsky The Wrestler I fired a few questions at Mansell relating to his musical input past, present and future...

The Wrestler marks your fourth score for Darren Aronofsky, how did your approach to this soundtrack differ to your other work with Darren Aronofsky?

All of us who worked on The Wrestler had to adopt a new approach because of the time and money available on the project - there was none of either!!

Usually with Darren, we have quite a lot of time, if not money, to explore the ideas for the film.

This film was largely an experiment for us all - Darren wanted to get back to working with his actors after a long post-production on The Fountain and because of the subject matter of the film and Mickey Rourke's casting there was not much money available which means there's not much time to get it done.

Is your input into the music for The Wrestler limited to just original compositions, as Rourke's character Randy is very much defined by big 80s rock, so were you influential in what music Randy would listen to?

Darren collaborates with his whole team on all aspects of his filmmaking. Ultimately, he decides but he's a very collaborative partner.

What struck me about the songs used in the film is how much they helped tell the story, there were definite parallels to be drawn from lyrics and action. With this and your other scores how do you find a balance between making a great piece of music and storytelling?

Good filmmaking incorporates all the elements to help tell and illuminate its story. It's part of the job to do that right. It takes a long time to absorb the story, the characters, the pacing and then be able to distill those elements into the music to enhance and support them. But that's the job. You get it right, or you get out!

'Lux Aeterna' from Requiem for a Dream ended up being used, very prominently (and re-arranged) for the advertising of 'The Two Towers'. How do you feel about a piece of music being used out of context like this? Considering the events that 'Lux Aeterna' soundtracked is it odd to you to hear it playing over hobbits and goblins?!

I think its amazing, to be honest, that a piece of music that I wrote has gone on this journey of its own accord and developed its own life! Drugs, hobbits, goblins? Are they really so different!!?

Personally I feel that your score for The Fountain is the strongest soundtrack in a stellar collection. How early into the process of the film-making does your work begin and how does the reaction of an audience and critical body affect you? Were you dissapointed by The Fountain's lack of success?

I read Darren's scripts as soon as he has a draft he is happy with. All of his collaborators do, we offer our thoughts and from then on we're involved.

The Fountain was a long project - like 5 years....It was a project that totally consumed me and I feel its some of my best work to date, if not the best.

Its reception was disappointing, without doubt. But, I always remember two pieces of advice I have been given regarding matters of this nature....

One, years ago when I first met Darren I remember him saying to me that 'the work is the only thing that matters', and, second, Hubert Selby Jr said to me that the best revenge on critics was 'to out live 'em!'

Can you tell us anything about your work on Moon? This is a project I am really excited about seeing, it's great for Sam Rockwell to be getting interesting starring roles like this; especially acting against himself!

'Moon' is great. I loved the script, I loved the idea, I loved Duncan's idea to use miniatures instead of CGI. Sam Rockwell is wonderful in the film and I hope people get to see it.

I've come to understand that if I'm not excited by a project I rarely write music that excites me. 'Moon' excited me no end, and I've read some early reviews that say the score is my best non-Aronofsky work. Which is nice to hear....

Its a sparse, haunting score, quite lonely sounding but with an emotional centre that comes as the film least that's what I hope!!!

And finally, will you be working with Aronofsky again anytime soon? I am not-so-subtly alluding to his upcoming version of Robocop, which had quite an iconic march by the wonderful Basil Poledouris.

Watch this space!