Movie Fact #225 - July 2nd, 2021

 

While the production history of the 2017 film Blade Runner 2049 was quite expansive, involving years of legal and conceptual work to finally follow-up the 1982 classic, strangely one of the hardest aspects to nail down was the score as the hope was to mimic the work of Vangelis, the composer for the original film. Much of this circles around Vangelis's use of a Yamaha CS-80 analog synthesizer. It was for this reason that Warner Bros. reportedly considered engaging the rapper and music producer El-P to write the film score for Blade Runner 2049. As a test, El-P was commissioned to write a short score for the film's first trailer and, conscious of that legacy of Vangelis's score for the original 1982 film, El-P's composition made use of a Yamaha CS-80 analog synthesizer as well. However, El-P's music was not used in the end, and he has stated that his score was "rejected or ignored".


This led to Jóhann Jóhannsson initially being hired as the composer, given he previously worked with the film's director, Denis Villeneuve, on Prisoners, Sicario, and Arrival. While Jóhannsson's agent said that the composer was contractually obligated not to comment further on the specifics of the situation, ultimately it was decided to end the collaboration because Villeneuve felt the film, in his words, "needed something different, and I needed to go back to something closer to Vangelis's soundtrack". This led to composers Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch being hired as the final composters in July 2017 (a mere two months before the film was set to be released in October of that year). Keeping with the basic flow of ideas for the score up until this point, the duo decided to incorporate the Yamaha CS-80 synthesizer. Zimmer spoke later on the soundtrack in detail:

"First of all, I realized that Denis [Villeneuve] is a director who has a vision; he has a voice. Remember, I've done a lot of movies with Ridley Scott. So, it was important that this was an autonomous piece of work. Let's just be honest. Ridley is a hard act to follow—as is Vangelis. While Ben [Wallfisch] was four-years-old, I had actually experienced all of this. We watched and literally, as we stopped watching, we decided on the palette. We decided this wasn't going to be an orchestral thing. The story spoke to us."

The result was a score that many felt was a seamless continuation of Vangelis's original score. Stay tuned!

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