"Interstellar," the new space epic from director Christopher Nolan, features images of wormholes, black holes, alien planets and dimensions beyond our three, things we as a species have never encountered before.
So how did composer Hans Zimmer handle the task of scoring those visuals with music that would connect us to them emotionally?
"This started in the smallest way," Zimmer explained to me at the New York City premiere. "[Nolan] phoned me up one day. He said, 'Look, if I write one page, but I won't tell you what the movie is about, will you give me one day and write whatever comes to you?' "
Zimmer agreed, and shortly thereafter, a typewritten page — because Nolan — arrived. The page told the story of a father and his son. "It was really, very personal," Zimmer said. "I sat down and basically wrote a musical love letter to my son."
When Zimmer had finished, he called Nolan to see how he'd like to receive the music, but the filmmaker insisted on coming straight to Zimmer, which he did. After hearing the music once while seated on Zimmer's couch, Nolan had what he was looking for.
"I said, 'What do you think?' He goes, 'I better make the movie now.' And I'm going, 'What is the movie?' And then he started describing these huge landscapes, this huge adventure, this enormous journey we were going to go on," Zimmer said. "I'm going, 'Look, I've written this tiny, tiny, really personal little thing.' And he goes, 'But I know what the heart of the movie is now.'"
And Nolan stuck to that inspiration throughout the making of the film, and the final product speaks to that.
"I was really excited about the project because the heart of it was this father and his children," Nolan said. "I'm a father myself. I really related to that emotionally, and I wanted to make that the emotional heart of the story."
"Interstellar" opens wide on November 7.