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Oscars 2012: 'Hugo' composer Howard Shore on Scorsese collaboration

January 24, 2012 | 12:43 pm

Howard Shore

Some things never get old. Just ask composer Howard Shore, who woke to a phone call very early Tuesday  morning in Hawaii and learned he had earned his fourth Academy Award nomination. "It's always thrilling," Howard said of being nominated, this time for his original score for Martin Scorsese's "Hugo."

The film, about an orphan living in a train station in 1930s Paris, leads the Oscar pack with 11 nominations, and it marks Shore's sixth film with Scorsese. "It's a wonderful collaboration," Howard said of working with the director. "I think [Scorsese] works with music the way he works with all his other collaborators: I think he casts well, and then he shapes and guides and inspires."

In writing the music for "Hugo," Shore drew inspiration from the film's time and setting, 1930s Paris. "It's a very rich period of music," Shore said. "It's the exuberance and the thrill of making movies in this early period with this new technology. … It's a very rich world to write in and compose in, and it's very inspiring to me."

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For Shore, the Academy Awards themselves also represent an opportunity to celebrate the history of filmmaking. "I love the show when it's elegant and shows what's great about films, and [when it] sets our work into the historical period of filmmaking," Shore said. "I think once a year it's good to look back at the history of Oscar and to embrace the great work that everybody's done this year and set it in place to the great work that's gone on before us."

After his layover in Hawaii, Shore is headed to New Zealand, where he is working on "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" with director Peter Jackson. The duo certainly has had a good run at Oscar together. Shore's won the Academy Award all three previous times he's been nominated -- for his original score for Jackson's 2001 film "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring," the original score for Jackson's 2003 feature "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" and for "Into the West," an original song he wrote with Fran Walsh and Annie Lennox for that film.

The following video is from the Envelope Directors Roundtable. Here, filmmakers Alexander Payne ("The Descendants"), Stephen Daldry ("Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close"), Martin Scorsese ("Hugo"), George Clooney ("The Ides of March") and Michel Hazanavicius ("The Artist") shared some of their setbacks and off days with Times film reporter John Horn.


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— Oliver Gettell

Photo: Composer Howard Shore in 2001. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times