How 'The Eternals' Score Captured the Sound of Space, Love and Its Deviants
Before the filming for the first time, composer Ramin Djawadi had a lunch with director Chloe Zhao.
Djawadi has written a script about his first meeting with the Oscar-winning writer. We discussed the overarching themes, the organ idea, the whole issue of conflict and belief, and memory all these things."
As the MCU epic was split, Djawadi who is known for producing the score for Iron Man and great sci-fi and fantasy movies like Westworld and Game of Thrones went home to see the immortal heroes.
When she was done, the two reunited like Zhao's characters for the next part of their mission. She invited me to watch this early version, a long overlength cut of the film. Thats when I started writing, Djawadi says.
Djawadi recommends that people observe the film together and decide where music starts and stops, and thats why everyone else is interested in it.
The process revealed just how in-sync and connected the duo was when it came to one of the MCU's more unique epics, which span the world, space and time.
Djawadi says he always needs to talk about music because he wants to use words in his words. "But I would talk and talk and talk. We would talk and talk, and then I would say, let me go back to my studio and let me just write something and see what the emotional expression is."
The outcome is a score that doesnt merely compliment Zhao's vision, but a musical journey that exquisitely parallels everything on-screen. Djawadi spoke to THR about his role in Zhao's tale about the MCU's most famous heroes.
Zhao's praises as a collaborator have been shared by a variety of members of The Eternals.
We ate lunch before the plane. We clicked right away, so I couldnt wait to get started. She's so articulate. It's always great to work with her.
It was an absolute pleasure to work with someone on a film. I dont just write what I want, but I need to make music to their vision. We did this during the pandemic, which was not easy. So I would have to send it to her, and she would have to listen on a laptop. (Laughs).
How did you approach this within your music?
Because it is not just this is one way to do it, and its the right way, and its powerful, but because it reveals its importance to Chloe to be able to stand both sides accountable.
Are you inspired by other cinematic superhero films? While it's a step away from typical MCU movies, Eternals is an origins story for the entire cinematic superhero canon.
We have superheroes that we havent seen before, especially after Iron Man, as a well-known character. So I kind of stepped away from all the other MCU movies. Obviously, it still needs unity, so we emphasized that this theme will be followed by another theme.
The Eternals theme is aurally intriguing because it sounds like you're building an Eternal from that initial flutter to that mechanical power-up and then the orchestral swell, which feels similar to the parts of the Avengers theme.
You said that this is the essence of this assembly of creation. So, in the process, we discover how the Eternals were created and who they are. But its very much that mechanical aspect that starts this out, which then builds to I dont want to say a classic, but a powerful, heroic theme. They are superheroes, after all.
The score focuses on characters around the globe and the galaxy, while revealing emotional moments. It also focuses on darker characters like Ikaris in "This Is Our Fight Now," which features a booming, brassy and somewhat frightening moment.
The organ is a great instrument to describe when it comes to the third act. I think it was helpful for a superhero and it was great.
At times it felt like a character was getting their own instruments, such as Makkari and the electric guitar. Did you want to give each Eternal their own sound?
When were in the Domo, we were going to use string instruments and piano as usual. The tricky part was that we stayed away from that. We remained focused on the characters, rather than using them as their cores.
Why did you choose that for the Deviants?
With the Deviant, there are two things to it: the need for it to be like the sickness of sound, and it should be something that really cuts through and scary.
Eternals with Druig offers a twist that appears to help his teams opposition, but we find out later that it's someone else.
The music really guides us and misleads us into who we think might turn on us or not. But you dont know if bad guy is the right term because he's sticking to his beliefs in a way or another. Then you realize that he's not letting go of his original mission. That's where the conflict becomes obvious and where another theme mission comes in.
When they do heroic things, they are on a mission, and the mission is where the conflict becomes so obvious. Thats why we used the same themes, and I would just rearrange them differently with a darker tone.
Eternals as a movie lives as much in space as on Earth. But there's no sound in space, too. How did you want to musically capture space?
It was a tricky moment to capture because everybody would imagine it differently. When we first saw the Domo fly at the start of the movie, I thought it was more like an aura. There's something alien to it, but it's not scary. It's also there with Arishem. He's a creator, and so there needed to be a beauty to it.
The organ is more like a choir that hums, that aura, and no singing, but it is simply a bed of sound. That's because it has different ways to combine creativity and percussion.
Is there another composition you felt embodyed the larger story or a different layer of the story you and Chloe were trying to tell?
The films love theme is Across the Oceans of Time. Its as complicated as it gets in the film, where Ikaris realises that they have been on Earth, and together, there is this emotional attachment love. It starts with a solo vocal, and it just grows, and then the choir comes in and just becomes bigger and bigger.
Did your work on the scores and themes of other epic projects like Game of Thrones and Westworld influence your Eternals score at all?
On Eternals, I learned a lot from these other shows. For example, both have multiple characters. We also noticed that it might become very complicated to have themes right away for everyone, because again, theyre in the room together, and it becomes more confusing than helpful.
It's something I love to do in Game of Thrones and Westword because you know how to read it. It's something I really love to do. It's something I do like in the films.