08 July 2007

L'innocence plus forte que le mal: Le Labyrinthe de Pan - Entretien avec Javier Navarette

L'innocence contre le mal. Un duel impossible, presque insoutenable. Et pourtant, l'après-guerre en Espagne a inspiré Guillermo Del Toro ( L'Echine du Diable, Blade 2, Hellboy...) et le compositeur Javier Navarette, pour aborder cette question avec sensibilité et donner une couleur sonore exceptionnelle au Labyrinthe de Pan. Le film est à la fois emprunt de violences et de cruautés (difficilement suportables visuellement), mais réalisateur et compositeur ont su nous immerger dans un monde fantastique empli de candeur et d'innocence enfantine. Et c'est grâce à la musique que ces univers qui se côtoient et s'opposent peuvent co-exister. Une musique envoûtante comme une ritournelle qui nous emmène loin dans l'imaginaire. Un peu comme un conte que l'on raconterait aux enfants pour les préserver d'une réalité trop dure.

Please, Mister Navarrete, how would you personally introduce yourself?
Javier NAVARETTE - I'm an art lover, and (I hope) a loving person. I like simple, straight, powerfull forms of art, from primitive to contemporary avantgarde, when ahieved...

What are your sources of inspiration when you compose film music: styles of music, composers… Do you have any mentor?
I belong to an eclectic generation. I'm sorry if it doesn't sound very humble, but my main source of inspiration is myself. I think all of us are full of information, and we only have to look at something, anything closer and closer, to get inspired.

May you tell me about your training?
Also eclectic: self-learn electric guitar, then jazz chords, electronic music workshops, then minimalism. And then again everything: french impresionistic, russian avantgarde.

May you tell me about your background?
I come from a catholic family from a very cold side of Spain. Coming to Barcelona improved a lot my quality of life. I might move now, somewhere else.

Among all your scores what are the ones you like the most?
I like 13 Campanadas and 99.9, and better at all Pan's Labyrinth.

When and how did you come to work in film music?
Agustin Villaronga was told about me and came to a concert, then he looked for me for a film called In a glass cage.

What do you feel when you’re composing and what do you like in this process?
I try to concentrate in achieving good pieces. In between, many things happen, of course: conversation with the director, getting better knowledge of the film, finding new things, even errors can help. What I like better is the moment in which a cue is near to be finished, but still can be refined. The very begining is also very nice.

How did you come on the Pan’s Labyrinth project?
Guillermo came to Barcelona, even before he finished the story. I was very pleased listening the story from his voice, like from an ancient trouvadour.

Did you know, when you started, that the film would be presented at the Cannes film festival ?
Not at all.

How would you describe your score for Pan’s Labyrinth?
It is quite clasical, and straight. There is a central theme and two or three seconday themes.

May you tell me about your approach: Thematic? Atmospheric?
It is thematic and atmospheric, I hope. Melody has an important role, that's true.
How much time did you have to compose your score, and with what budget (if not secret)?
I didn't was in a hurry, but there was a good amount of music to do, so I was busy a few months. Budget was enough, I don't know exactly. In some moment of the planning it came to be much bigger than producers thought, because we wanted choir and other extras. Guillermo insisted and that made a difference, I think.

What orchestra and what size did you choose?
Did you use some electronic sounds in your score or was it all live?There are no electronic at all. Orchestra was a clasical medium-large, without some woods, and more or less full brasses and percussions. Mixed choir also has a background role.
Do you have any anecdotes about the process to tell us, funny or interesting things?
Yes. We've got Jaroslava Eliaasova playing piano, even after she had left music. She's quite an old lady, but I insisted and insisted and got this interesting lady playing again, maybe recording for the last time. I deeply admire her sound and feeling.

How did you work, and with what request from the crew (director, producer, music supervisor, temp score)?
I worked very closely to Guillermo and Bernat Vilaplana, the editor, who is very good with music, by the way.

It’s you second collaboration with Mister Del Toro along with THE DEVIL’S BACKBONE. How did you meet, how do you work together, do you have projects to come with him?
Guillermo called me after he saw an spanish period film called "El mar", which had some coincidences of athmosphere whith the film he was ready to do in Spain. And I think it's not a secret he wants to make a third film about the spanish civil war some day.

What was your inspiration to compose this lullaby and how did you create it?
The story was the main inspiration. I do have sons, and sing a lot for them when they were babys, also. One of the charachters of the film had to sing this lullaby to Ophelia, the main charachter, so we had to make the composition before they started the main photograph.

What do you personally think about the subjects of the film (War, resistance, politics, violence, innocence, fairy tales, childhood, family…)
I love them, they have place for everything: epics, fantasy, tenderness, suspense. This film is a dream for a composer, and I'm happy to have worked there.

For a new project, if you could choose a genre, a kind of story and a filmmaker, what would they be?
I would choose a mistery sobrenatural comedy by Jim Jarmush, or the Cohen Brothers, or the next David Lynch film, or the next Guillermo del Toro film.

Do you have any other projects to come?
I'm working in a film called LA ZONA by the mexican director Rodrigo Pla, his first film. It has a great look and a great story. I'm very happy about that.

Do you have specific message to add?
I believe in soundtracks as a part of a film. If you have a chance and you didn't before, then try to see the film Pan's Labyrinth! If not, listen to the record and make your own fantasy.
Photo Javier Navarette (C) Charlie Steffens

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