'Tis the season for awards nominations, and rightfully, The Impossible made the grade for its leading lady, Naomi Watts, in both the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors' Guild Awards, but a crucial element of movie making that stirs the audience's soul without them even knowing it, and all too often goes unmentioned is sound and score. In this field, as in acting, directing, and writing, The Impossible achieves the incredible thanks in part to composer Fernando Velasquez's magnificent score.
Velasquez previously worked with The Impossible director, Juan Antonia Bavona, on the 2007 ghost thriller, The Orphanage, and interestingly, the two films share two other elements in common: there are no human villains in either, and both films feature beautiful audio landscapes of emptiness.
The music of The Impossible:
Composed in Madrid with a 40-piece orchestra, Velasquez's score for The Impossible is subtle and deeply psychological, stitching a fine embroidery with silence, and ambient noises. Velasquez cites the score's four main themes: family, longing/searching, emotional pain, and death.
When Lucas finds the Swedish boy and brings his father to him, there is a musical moment when they hug that I love. This theme for me is my footprint in the film -- and that same musical theme appears at the end of the credits again. The music isn't giving you an answer, but is giving you a hug, which in a way is like an answer. Choir voices woven in with the orchestra imply a calmness, and can be heard soflty like the ocean and the sky. I wouldn't say it is religious, and I don't mean this in a new age way, but this musical theme is almost like an encounter with a bigger reality.
Already one of the biggest blockbuster films in Spain's history, and a huge hit in Thailand, where the movie was set, The Impossible is a story of survival and in the face of massive upheaval, there are no easy answers.
The big responsibility was to give justice to the true story we are telling. There's a lot of pain with survival -- it's not victorious. It's not the things the family does to survive, it's the things they do to keep their dignity. Dignity is the only thing nobody can take away from you if you don't let them.
The Impossible Trailer:
Velasquez breaks into a big smile talking about the scoring process -- often one of the final elements added to the film.
I feel a little like Dr. Frankenstein. Before the score, the film is like pieces of flesh and a head and leg and then when the score is added, it all comes to life.
Though Academy Award nominations are not revealed until January 10, 2013, the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, declares The Impossible a "near certainty" in the Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing categories.
As for awards buzz, Velasquez adds,
Of course I'd love to have an Oscar nomination, but the simple joy of being able to talk to you because you saw the movie, and felt affected by it is enough. It's an amazing feeling to be a part of that.
The Impossible opened nationwide in the United States on December 21, 2012