X-Men Days of Future Past editor and composer John Ottoman talks in a reccent interview about the music choices he made, reusing music from the original trilogy and creating new material due to the films themes of time travel and the seventies.
Going back to those two movies [The Usual Suspects and Public access], what has been Bryan's philosophy on score? What are his thoughts on how music should work in a film?
You know, I don't ever remember a time where he has sort of given his own personal concept of scoring because he's mainly reacted to what I have put in as temporary music in a movie and then just basically responded whether he liked it or not and whether he's just feeling the scene the way he wants to feel it. I mean I know he has mentioned he doesn't like frilly things in the score. The specific things that I've learned through the years, he doesn't like things that shimmer or things that are like a glockenspiel or a bell tree. He's not going to want that kind of stuff. But other than that I think it really depends on the kind of movie we're doing and how he's just reacting emotionally to what I'm presenting to him.
However, having said that, on this one he did specifically say he wanted something more "modern." And I think there's some intimidation factor with the new sort of Chris Nolan-esque approach to film, well, to superhero films and to the scores. So I think he wanted to be able to compete with that sort of testosterone-driven kind of scoring. And so I took that to heart. However, we are working with a franchise and a character-driven movie. So I sort of infused that sentiment in, I guess you would say, that "modern" approach in with the lyrical sort of thing that I normally do.
On X-Men, obviously you're bringing back the central themes that were evident in the first couple of movies, but what other elements specifically helped you to shape what you wanted this one to be?
Well, it's a weird score for me because I would normally set out to do an "X-Men" film like "X2." It was basically just lyrical and build upon character themes that would weave in and out of the film and done in a straight orchestral sense. But when he kind of said he wanted it to be more of a modern approach, it threw me for a moment. But then I just sort of dove in and did what I would normally do naturally with that in the back my mind.
The '70s gave me an opportunity sort of to mix it up a bit by adding some synthesized elements with some analog synths and electric piano and bass and some guitar. But at the end of the day, it's still, to me, a story being told about Charles Xavier. And there's sort of a melancholy, yet somewhat hopeful theme for him that develops throughout the movie and has its big fruition in the end. And so that was exciting for me to have that as a thread.
And then the other major motif in the film is Raven. So she has sort of a four-note motif that sort of went through the film for a while and went away and then came back when she's got the gun at the end and her big decision. It's sort of loosely harkened in this piano piece that's in this montage.
I'm nevertheless curious about building a theme for this franchise. What was it Bryan was looking for with that? No one is going to sit down and say, "Okay, how do we make this iconic," but it is a superhero movie and that's sort of a trope of that sub-genre. A definitive theme.
Well, when I did the "X2" theme I was inspired by what Kamen had done because I felt like he had an idea there that was never really fleshed out and was like a fragment of a theme. I felt like it was missing the second half. So that's kind of how I came up with the "X2" theme, was by first listening to his and then sort of expanding on it and then making it my own.
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