This is the case on the all-important final scene of the film: a wordless sequence with Oskar, where the five-note theme has to build and then diminish as the story concludes and the credits begin to roll. Thibaudet gets the final, faint notes with only a handful of takes.
"The music in the movie, even if it comes last, it's a huge part of the final result," Thibaudet insists. "When music is composed specifically for a film, it's like putting air into lungs."
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Monday, January 02, 2012 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 News Desk 1 inches; 33 words Type of Material: Correction
Jean-Yves Thibaudet: An article in the Jan. 1 Arts & Books section about pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet said that he had performed concerts and recordings on dates in mid-December. Those dates were in mid-November.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday, January 08, 2012 Home Edition Sunday Calendar Part D Page 2 Calendar Desk 1 inches; 27 words Type of Material: Correction
Jean-Yves Thibaudet: A Jan. 1 article about pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet said that he had performed concerts and recordings on dates in mid-December. Those dates were in mid-November.
The difficult part of the "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" score to capture was a letter-writing scene just before the finale. Only adding to the pressure was the presence of the work's patron, producer Scott Rudin, who dropped in to watch the session.
Thibaudet was in the studio alone with a monitor playing back the images of the film. In a few hours he would have to be on the stage of Carnegie Hall.
"It is quite mesmerizing to play music that reflects a story. It's very different, and very difficult," he recounts later, "getting the right feeling, the right atmosphere, the right soul, the correct phrasing with the pedal. It's so different than a recital tour -- where I just do it the way I feel, no timing. With a movie I'm part of that story, I have to go into it."
After a few takes, Desplat leaves the packed booth and goes into the studio. They exchange a few words in French. Desplat comes back and they roll the recording of the orchestra: On this take the notes seem to bounce in sync with edits of the film, the rhythm of images flashing by seem part of a whole and, for the first time, the emotions leap off the screen.
When the music comes to an end, the engineer asks for another take, for safety. Desplat nods and pushes the intercom to let Thibaudet know that was better but they'll be doing it one more time. When the intercom is off, he tells the booth: "It cannot be better. Magical. That was it."