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Interview: ‘The Whale’ Composer Rob Simonsen on Crafting the Film’s Haunting Score

Rob Simonsen

When you see a Darren Aronofsky film, you know you’re in for a sensory experience. Chief among that is the power of the movie’s score. Normally, he works with the great Clint Mansell, but for The Whale, he’s paired with Rob Simonsen, a composer who has almost certainly done the music for a number of films you adore. Truly, he gets around, with this Aronofsky collaboration being a real highlright. Recently, I spoke to star Brendan Fraser about the flick (listen to that interview here), but today it’s time for Simonsen to discuss The Whale with yours truly.

In my review of The Whale from back at the Toronto International Film Festival (here), the music was among the many things I praised:

Director Darren Aronofsky purposefully keeps the adaptation of Samuel D. Hunter‘s play (which Hunter adapted himself) as stagey as possible. Aronofsky’s testament to empathy and redemption shatters you, before putting you back together. To do so, you need to be in tight with Charlie and his small circle. Cinematographer Matthew Libatique is up close on Fraser’s face, taking in how he takes his abuse. The home it all takes place in is dark, and kept dark, until light finally is able to shine through. The score by Rob Simonsen is also very much on point, knowing exactly when to come in strong for maximum emotional effectiveness. Aronofsky is a master, so his gambit easily pays off, even if it’s a bit jarring at the start.

Below, you can hear my conversation with Simonsen. We talk a lot about how he developed the score for The Whale, especially in comparison to the notable silence that’s a part of it as well. Considering how great the music always is in an Aronofsky work, it’s no great surprise that Simonsen’s work here is my favorite film score of the year. Now that the movie is in theaters, you can experience it right now, from Fraser’s towering performance on down to the music from Simonsen. It’s something you won’t soon forget.

A24

Here now is my interview with The Whale composer Rob Simonsen. Enjoy:

The Whale is in theaters now!

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Written by Joey Magidson

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