Award winning composer Dario Marianelli previously worked with director Joe Wright on another film starring Keira Knightley when he did the score for Pride & Prejudice. Their collaboration continues with Atonement, winner of the 2008 Golden Globe Award for "Best Original Score." The maestro here shares with us some of his favorite soundtracks and books.
Bernard Herrmann: The Film Scores.
How much we all owe to Herrmann is made crystal clear in this gorgeous CD. There are very few people that have changed the course of film music in such a dramatic way. The man was not just a genius: he actually changed the way we look at films.
The Good German by Thomas Newman. One of the best film scores I have heard in a long long time. How on earth did he manage to recreate so perfectly the atmosphere of 1940s movies without losing his own very distinctive voice? A miracle. Or a great gift, anyway.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind, by John Williams. This was the first time ever when I became conscious of music in films. I would have been 14 at the time, and those 5 notes in the alien theme got firmly stuck in my head (and in the head of a lot of other people, I am sure). It wasn't just brilliant music: it was music that told you what kind of people were inside the spaceship. And you'd be dying to meet them...
Fellini Rota: Music from the Classic Films of Federico Fellini, by Nino Rota. If you have never heard Rota's music, well, you just HAVE to get this CD. And even if you have heard his music, in fact, get it anyway, to remind yourself of what a brilliant musical mind Rota was, and how lucky we are that he met Fellini.
Betty Blue, by Gabriel Yared. The first score that made me aware of Gabriel's music: it's simple, direct, memorable music. Beautiful and inspiring.
What I Was, by Meg Rosoff. Allegedly written for teenagers. I couldn't put it down, and I can assure you I haven't been a teenager for quite a while... Brilliant storytelling, of the dangerous kind.
Ubik, by Philip K. Dick. One of Dick's masterpieces: a concentrate of the themes he has explored throughout his life, a brilliant puzzle, and a meditation on the nature of truth and perception.
Experience, by Martin Amis. A complicated relationship with his father, with his work, even with his teeth; a surprisingly moving autobiography from a writer often accused of intellectualism, but who is able to touch the heart with his unexpected turns of phrase.
Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi. I knew of graphic novels, but this was the first graphic autobiography I have come across. Brilliant drawings, great sense of humour, and going straight for the jugular. Remember the Baghdad Blogger? Marjane has done the same for Iran's recent history, and has managed to be touching and profound without losing a humorous lightness.
The Blank Slate, by Steven Pinker. An absolutely gripping mixture of philosophy, neurobiology, psychology, politics and the history of scientific ideas. Pinker is able to document how bias and preconception can tinge objective data and turn it into partisan political agenda.