"We worked very hard to make sure that the scenes themselves were not sentimental, that there would always be a complicated emotional reaction to the film," Daldry said. "With a traditional film score, you would restrict the potential for a broad emotional response.
"Rather than just supporting, or accentuating, the emotional rhythms that are already there, Philip creates another thematic layer, so that the music provides at certain moments a subtextual stream of consciousness that actually deepens the movie, where other music would trivialize it. It allows a dialectic between the music and the image that allows both to live and breathe."
Not a Hollywood name
Glass' relationship with Hollywood has been, at best, hit and miss. A glance at his filmography shows a smattering of name directors (Scorsese, Schrader, Peter Greenaway, Christopher Hampton), the documentarians (Morris, Reggio) and a variety of other arty types. He's not a Hollywood favorite.
For "The Truman Show," director Peter Weir licensed several existing Glass compositions, and although Glass wrote some new music for the film, the bulk of the picture was scored by another composer.
"Someone who's going to do a chase movie or a hostage movie doesn't automatically think of me," Glass says. "I don't get a lot of calls for films like that. In fact, I don't get any," he adds with another laugh.
"I pick films that interest me, filmmakers that interest me, and films that have quality to them," although he points out that such decisions don't always guarantee works of art. "I've been fooled a couple of times by what happened," he says, a reference to seemingly odd choices like the score he composed for the 1992 thriller "Candyman."
Reggio has worked with Glass on film projects for 25 years; "Naqoyqatsi" concludes a trilogy that examined the impact of technology on civilization. In a rare partnership between director and composer, their films featured no narration, only imagery and music. "Naqoyqatsi" also featured cello solos by Yo-Yo Ma.
Reggio, by phone from his home in Santa Fe, N.M., says he thinks that the "minimalist" label that has dogged Glass for years is a misnomer. He calls it "metamorphic music, music that freed the viewer to go to his or her own place. I found it extraordinarily powerful, the equivalent of having a spiritual or religious experience."
So when planning "Koyaanisqatsi," Reggio decided, "What better music to have than something that had ambiguity built into its form, and the freedom to allow the listener to [decide] themselves what this meant."
Glass likes collaborating with other artists and, in most cases, has not felt restricted by the precise musical needs of film or battered by the usual Hollywood ego trips. In Tokyo while Schrader was filming "Mishima," Glass asked the director where the music should go. "He took the script, threw it across the table, and said, 'You tell me where it goes.' That was really nice."
And on "Kundun," when Glass told Scorsese that "the music has to be a doorway between our culture and the culture that's disappeared, and I think I know how to do this," Scorsese simply said, "OK."
Glass acknowledges that his style won't be right for every film, although he points out that "within that style there's a fairly big range, the difference between the music in 'Mishima' and 'Powaqqatsi'  or 'Kundun' and 'The Secret Agent' . The thing about having a personal approach to music is, it's usually associated with someone who has developed a musical personality and has something to say. That's not a bad thing."
Glass quietly concedes that he wouldn't mind winning an Academy Award. It's not outside the realm of possibility, considering the Oscar has gone to two "classical" composers in the last three years (Corigliano for "The Red Violin," Tan Dun for "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon") and that the roster of past winners has included such 20th century musical luminaries as Aaron Copland ("The Heiress"), Malcolm Arnold ("The Bridge on the River Kwai") and Erich Wolfgang Korngold ("The Adventures of Robin Hood").
"I was so happy to go to [the Oscars for] 'Kundun,' " he says. "It was the year of 'Titanic.' I went there knowing that I couldn't win. Then [the next year] I went to the Golden Globes, and we won for 'The Truman Show.' And I said to the woman who eventually became my wife, 'You know, winning is fun. I like winning.' "