The Score

Notes from Composer Matias Malmivaara

A key strength of Journey to Tataouine is the film's original score, composed by Finnish expatriate Matias Malmivaara. Here our maestro shares some of his reflections on the process of creating the music for this unusual film.


The challenge in scoring Journey to Tataouine was in finding the right balance between the more grounded nature of factual documentary filmmaking and the more fantastical world that encompasses childhood memories and nostalgia, discovery and adventure, and of course, John Williams' score for Star Wars. I felt both these aspects of David's story were important, so the score needed to reflect both approaches. Yet it's important for a film to have a certain amount of musical consistency,  a clear musical identity, so whenever we needed to shift from one approach to the other, I always tried to work on maintaining the unity of the score as a whole, so that the alternating styles and tones would blend together harmoniously even across their differences. 


We ended up emphasizing the fantastical side of things, which I think was the right approach. There's so much magic to this story that I felt it really deserved to be elevated to something outside of the grounded, factual side of it all. 


I relished the opportunity on this Star Wars project to write themes that were new and original. It might have seemed tempting to draw heavily upon the universally loved John Williams score for Star Wars, but Journey to Tataouine is David's story and I felt we should create completely fresh and unique material to emphasize that. I did employ certain techniques and orchestrations to link the music to that universe we all love and remember, and there are cues recalling Williams themes where such references felt appropriate, but overall the music here has its own identity and style. I wrote this score to stand alone and have a musical integrity all its own.


There are not many films made nowadays that call for music of what we might call a poetic nature like Journey to Tataouine does. To be able to work on a project and a story that is truly unique, like David's story is, has felt incredibly fortunate for me, and I've done my very best to provide this movie with the music it deserves.  


Director David West Reynolds comments, "It was amazing to hear Matias create themes and melodies that so perfectly express the emotions I experienced during the expedition. From the near-hopelessness out under the blazing sun of the salt flats to the breathtaking awe of seeing Star Wars Canyon for the first time, Matias' score allows the audience to feel exactly what I felt. Matias' music enriches Journey to Tataouine at levels ranging from the obvious to the subliminal. 


Commissioning a complete original score seemed like quite a luxury when producer Ray Cart and I were planning the project completion budget, but Ray felt it was an essential investment if we were serious about quality. Having observed how strongly audiences react to Matias' music I cannot imagine screening my film without it. 


It was a great pleasure to collaborate with an artist who could add so much depth and emotion to my project and I hope that the two of us will be able to join forces again in the future."

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