Can a music composer be considered an auteur? That was a question posed by Fandor's Jacob T. Swinney in relation to the work of Jonny Greenwood last month, the Radiohead guitarist being singled out for his accomplished work with director Paul Thomas Anderson. Making the case for the musician's creative influence as holding a significant amount of weight in a film's narrative, Swinney's impassioned argument for the crucial importance of the composer/director relationship was well heard.
In the video below, Swinney now makes the case for another famous musician whose work in cinema (as relatively small as the sample size is) is its own form of authorship: Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. The founder of the highly successful rock band has worked most prominently with fellow composer Atticus Ross on the films of David Fincher, and, as documented in Swinney's latest video, the result has proven a beautifully unnerving (and Academy Award-winning) collaboration.
Although the composer had original work featured in David Lynch's body-swapping, rock-infused cinema whatzit Lost Highway, Reznor's first complete original score, in partnership with Ross, was for Fincher's The Social Network.
The true, almost clinical story of how an influx of technology and communication models turned a nerdy Harvard student into a billionaire, the film required a score both unobtrusive and ambient, as if something (fear, insecurity, a desire for a lost love) was bubbling up underneath the surface within our main character. Rather than explode in a barbaric display of violence, the film's tension builds, in part, as an extension of the film's score, resembling someone on the edge of losing something, a melancholic longing for someone who got away.
Reznor and Ross continue to work with Fincher, having scored his following two films The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Gone Girl. And although loyal to the filmmaker, the two men have collaborated elsewhere, most recently on Peter Berg's Patriot's Day, a big-budget drama about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.
What's your take on the work of Trent Reznor, both with David Lynch and David Fincher? Do you have a favorite film score of his? Let us know in the comments below.