‘News of the World’: How James Newton Howard Composed a ‘Broken’ Score for a Fragile Western
When composer James Newton Howard (“Raya and the Last Dragon”) first met with Paul Greengrass on the set of “News of the World” in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the director already knew what kind of music he wanted: A broken score for a broken country.
It was the perfect complement for the this post-Civil War western about healing and unification between news reader Captain Jefferson Kidd (Tom Hanks) and 10-year-old orphan Johanna (Helena Zengel), who endure a four-month journey together across the harsh, northern Texas plains.“We talked about a broken consort — a central core collection of musicians playing in an ideal way more than literally,” said Howard, a seven-time Oscar nominee for Best Original Score.
“But it was the idea of feeling uncertain, fragile, roughly hewn, and then surrounding that with orchestral music.
And the way I tried to achieve that was by using more ancient instruments: cello d’amore and viola da gambas,
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