The Japanese Mahler


One of the best composers who ever did film scores as well as concert music was Toru Takemitsu. He should be included on any list of great film composers. The proof was in his many scores, especially for Akira Kurosawa and Hiroshi Teshigahara. He could take very modern musical textures and make them work into complex narratives on film. Rather than fighting the silence, his music would seem to almost be a natural landscape in which the films could exist.

However, he’s probably best known for one scene where he did the opposite. I believe the story goes that Kurosawa wanted something like Mahler in a pivotal scene where a King is toppled. Takemitsu didn’t really want to but did it anyway. The result is truly one of the most memorable combinations of music and visuals. In fact, the production sound is completely silent in the mix leaving only Takemitsu’s tortured symphonic unease to fill the space and tell the emotions.

Ran – Toru Takemitsu

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