New York, NY (Top40 Charts)
Retaining Leigh Harline and Ned Washington's most memorable songs from the animated classic-the Oscar-winning "When You Wish Upon a Star," "I've Got No Strings" and "Hi Diddle Dee Dee" ("The Actor's Life")-the filmmakers wanted to include additional songs in their live action version. Oscar nominees Alan Silvestri, who composed the film's background score and has teamed with Zemeckis on 19 films, and Glen Ballard collaborated on the new original songs.
Weitz says, "The 1940 Pinocchio
won two Oscars - for score and for original song - and so it was important to get the best team possible to do the music. Not only do Alan and Glen pay homage to the classic film, but they've made new and exciting creations of their own to work alongside their longtime collaborator Bob Zemeckis."
It was decided early on when Zemeckis and Weitz were writing the script to have the character of the Blue Fairy sing "When You Wish Upon a Star," rather than Jiminy Cricket, who sang it in the animated film. They believed it made sense from the standpoint of the story to have her sing it since she was the one who would make Geppetto's wish come true. Plus, it would provide a fantastic opportunity for a supremely talented musical artist like Cynthia Erivo to make what has become Disney's signature theme song something all her own.
Of Erivo, Silvestri says, "She was absolutely delightful. She was just amazingly prepared and willing to do whatever was needed. Of course, you know, she sings beautifully, but the performance as an actress that she brought to the film is spectacular. So it was pure delight, as good as it gets."
While writing the script, Zemeckis and Weitz noted places where additional songs might work.
The director explains, "We went through the process of doing what you do whenever you're going to make a musical. When we were writing the script, Chris and I would spot places where we said to each other, 'Hey, why don't we do a song there?' What songs do best in musicals is shore up the emotional growth of a character or help express what a character is feeling at any given moment. So that's what we did with the songs."
Silvestri and Ballard were mindful of the simple, old-fashioned style of the songs from the animated film, but it didn't restrict them from going in a different and more contemporary direction for the new songs. Says Silvestri, "Certainly, we needed to have the film work as a fabric so nothing would be so glaringly out of character that it would be a distraction. What we found with 'Pinocchio' is that the film could handle a lot of range in in how the songs were approached."
When Tom Hanks was confirmed to play Geppetto, Silvestri and Ballard were delighted to be working with him again, having written the songs Hanks performed in Zemeckis' 2004 "The Polar Express."
Ballard says, "We thought we would have at least one song for Tom, and it was really a story point. You see a photograph of a young man while Geppetto is making the puppet who will become Pinocchio. So there's some sense that he's missing this lost child in the picture. So we wrote 'When He Was Here with Me' to reveal something about what's missing in Geppetto's life and for the audience to understand why he's lonely. Tom's singing and acting it, and it's deeply emotional."
The second original song, "Pinocchio Pinocchio," was commissioned by Zemeckis who wanted a musical number where Geppetto and Pinocchio
would dance when the puppet comes to life.
Recalls Ballard, "Bob said, 'You know what, we should have a celebration song of Pinocchio
and his father just having a gleeful moment.' We put it in a music box to start it so it has some diegetic relationship to the scene."
Silvestri and Ballard wrote another original song "I Will Always Dance" for the character of Fabiana the puppeteer who wants to be a dancer but has an injured leg. Ballard says, "I think it's an important song in the film. She's always going to dance in her mind, and she has all of her puppets dance, and Pinocchio
gets to dance in it. It's a sweet number to let him know that there are other people who are striving like him to achieve something."
When Luke Evans was cast as The Coachman, it was only natural that they would write a song for the musical comedy veteran to perform. Explains Ballard, "It's kind of a crazy suite, all related to the Luke Evans character scooping up children off the street to take them to Pleasure Island. He's basically selling Pinocchio
on why they need to go to Pleasure Island. So that one is a fun number, and it's also, again, storytelling."
Says Silvestri, "It was a very fluid process all the way through. And as you might expect, we wrote some things that didn't wind up in the film. But that was all part of the process, the creative process of finding what the film really needed."
The soundtrack from Walt Disney Records will be available on September
8. For his background score, Silvestri used the songs as a resource, along with an accordion to evoke a bit of Old World Italy for Geppetto's shop. Silvestri explains, "Even though the film takes place at a much earlier time in history, I didn't feel that we had to limit ourselves to period music. In a film like this, with these big action sequences, there's a great range of musical needs, a lot of music that had to be written.
But it really comes back to the emotional arc of the characters. These were very emotional scenes and adventures and things happening that are timeless and universal-friendship and danger, mystery and fantasy, all these things. So, the film seemed to really be able to take and handle a tremendous musical range."