Composer ditches past for "Pelham" hijack remake

Thu Jul 23, 2009 6:11am EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Rather than return to the acclaimed original score when setting the re-make of cult 1970s movie "The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3" to music, composer Harry Gregson-Williams decided on a clean break.

His decision was welcomed by director Tony Scott, who wanted his version of the subway train hijack thriller starring Denzel Washington and John Travolta to be seen as an entirely different film from the 1974 original.

"Because the original score had such an iconic status, as soon as I knew we would do a remake I went out and rented the movie," Gregson-Williams, one of Hollywood's most sought-after composers, said in an interview.

"In my memory it had been one of best films I had seen in my early years, but when I put it on it felt quite dated and I felt it didn't stand up to the test of time.

"I called up Tony Scott and told him that. He said 'That puts you in a very good position -- leave it behind. All I have done is taken a very good idea for a movie and made a different movie.'"

Gregson-Williams, who has worked with Scott regularly and with his brother Ridley Scott on the 2005 crusade epic "Kingdom of Heaven," did not ignore the original score entirely, however.

The 1974 version, written by Oscar-winner David Shire, is best remembered for its driving, funky beat and jazz-style brass instrumentation.

"I ... thought, wouldn't it be cool to remix it as a homage? I set to work on that and some DJ friends helped, and what came out was a cool 1970s retro thing. But it didn't make sense, it had no bearing, so after a week I threw it aside."   Continued...