With THE INCREDIBLES coming almost to the end of its incredible production journey, the filmmakers knew that the drama, design and vision of their film would require an equally incredible musical score to highlight it all. They enlisted talented young composer Michael Giacchinowhose previous credits include scores for the television show “Alias” as well as a number of popular video games and animated shorts who makes an auspicious feature film debut with THE INCREDIBLES.
Brad Bird collaborated closely with Giacchino, asking him to go back to the brassy, rhythmic, jazzinflected scores of 1960s thrillers for initial inspiration. “I was searching for a specific sound that I have always associated with action movies, spy movies, comic books and inventive television shows,” Bird explains. “Michael and I talked about revisiting the work of composers like John Barry and Henry Mancini. There’s a certain bold, splashy way that adventure music was done back then, and I wanted to revitalize that sound for this film. Luckily, I soon discovered that Michael loved this kind of music as much as I did, and that helped him to create something very special for THE INCREDIBLES.”
Giacchino says: “For me, this was the greatest creative challenge possible because it involved my favorite kind of music. When I got the job, it was like someone opening the gates to the coolest stuff in the world and saying ‘go play.’ It was like going to the forbidden playground of jazz orchestral music! I always admired what Henry Mancini did with the ‘Pink Panther’ music and how it gave audiences a great sense of energy, stealth, and actionand that’s what I wanted to do here.”
Giacchino used a 100-piece orchestraconsisting of a full rhythm section, strings, horns, piano, bass, drum, trumpets, and percussioniststo create a score intended to be as agile, playful, and at times dramatic, as the characters who drive THE INCREDIBLES.
Bird also asked the composer to create individual themes or motifs that would define each main character and evolve with them throughout the film, adding to its multi-layered complexity.
Giacchino explains: “For example, Mr. Incredible has a theme that starts off very heroic and jazzy; then it changes as he matures from superhero to family man, slowly evolving over the course of the film. This was a lot of funcomposing music that would grow with the character and reflect his or her unique situation. I spent a lot of time finding a different style with each characterDash has a theme that sounds a little like a whirring hummingbird and Violet’s theme is quite coy and mysterious, etc. Basically, the filmmakers told me the story of THE INCREDIBLES and I tried to tell it back in musical form.”
As he wrote the score, it was clear that Giacchino was going to have to break away from much that has become standard in contemporary film scores. “Today’s film scores are, for the most part, quite traditional in structure or rely on music laden with electronic elements to keep the energy up,” he explains.
“By contrast, a lot of the scores that were done in the ’60s had cool, in-your-face musicfeaturing lots of exotic percussion and instruments like the xylophone, bongos, or vibraphone. You don’t hear those instruments or styles incorporated much nowadays into orchestral scoresbut I happen to love that sound. I’m so glad Brad wanted to bring it back and especially that he recognized that it can still create a wonderful range of moods today. You can really say he was never afraid to push for any aspect of this film to be even more incredible.”
“Michael (Giacchino) and I talked about revisiting the work of composers like John Barry and Henry Mancini. There’s a certain bold, splashy way that adventure music was done back then, and I wanted to revitalize that sound for this film.” Brad Bird