I got on the bus today intent on reading my rss feeds, and did just that.
When i finally got to the feed from soundtrack.net, there was a post that immediately caught my eye titled ‘AMPAS disqualifies “Dark Knight” score for Oscar consideration‘. Originally posted by Variety and then picked up by (at least) soundtrack.net, the article briefly, and in so many words, states that James Newton Howard and Hans Zimmer are going to be receiving letters shortly that inform them their score is being disqualified on the grounds that they share too much credit.
By no means am i a professional (or perhaps even qualified to have an opinion on this matter), but what… the… hell? There’s a quote from Zimmer given before this disqualification decision was made;
“…that listing multiple names on the cue sheet was a way of financially rewarding parts of the music team who helped make the overall work successful.”
The article mentions that the other three individuals signed an affidavit stating that the score was primarily the work of Zimmer and Howard.
While it was good to read that this issue is somewhat divisive among the panels of the Academy responsible for this field, it was a let down that their decision was to disqualify the score. More and more scores are being done in teams rather than by the work of an individual. This argument could even be expanded, i think, to a discussion about how much credit should an orchestrator be given. Although they may not have come up with that melody that everyone hums after having seen a film, they very well could have been responsible for the texture over which that melody was highlighted.
So because they (Howard and Zimmer) were credited with more than 60% and less than 70% of the score they’re disqualified.
I don’t know how you feel about this score, or if you’ve even seen the movie for that matter, but it was very good. Also, it featured some sounds/themes that were very character driven. Of course Heath Ledger’s performance was magical, powerful, and regrettably his last. But the music that accompanies his character is… perfect.
If i refer to the shower scene from Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho’ i’m about 95% sure that you know what i’m talking about. Well that cue, which was written by Bernard Herrmann, was not asked for by Hitchcock, but when Herrmann convinced him to watch it, he realized that the scene was nothing without those violin screeches. (Go ahead… i will forgive you for making the sound right now, and potentially scaring those people beside you in your cities public library computer center). Anyways, the joker’s music is like that: totally necessary, and totally worth it.
Now, could Zimmer and Howard have done that without the aid of music editor Alex Gibson, ambient music designer Mel Wesson and composer Lorne Balfe? Maybe, but they didn’t. And now they are being disqualified for it.
In my humble opinion and wonderment, why can’t the academy look at the writing of a musical score like they look at the writing of a script? If a team wrote it, a team should be given credit. If a single person wrote it, they should get credit. Maybe their argument was, “if a team wrote this then they could acheive more than one person could.” Okay, but based on that, i don’t think a team of 5 Reed’s could achieve what a single John Williams could achieve. But, if what 5 Reed’s did as a team was better than what a single John Williams did, shouldn’t I(‘s) at least be able to compete against him for an award? Granted winning is one thing, but being nominated is quite another.
And now that the “Dark Knight” score is disqualified, i wonder what Santaolalla score they’re going to put in its stead? Did i just write that? Oh yeah… I did.