Carter Burwell '77: Twilight's composer of continuity

by Mattie Kahn

The results are in, and they are just what you might have expected. Twilight: Breaking Dawn – Part I, which opened November 18,broke ticket revenue records, ignited crowds of screaming girls (and their mothers) and amassed a varied collection of reviews from the press. What the average vampire-aficionado might not have realized upon entry into her 12:01 screening of the much-hyped flick is that in addition to a star-studded cast of Hollywood elite, Summit Entertainment also enlisted famed film-composer Carter Burwell '77.

To those in the know, Burwell is a household name. His resume boasts credits in a spate of Coen Brothers movies -- No Country for Old Men, Burn After Reading and True Grit -- as well as in films such as A Serious Man, The Blind Side, The Kids are All Right, Mildred Pierce and, of course, the Twilight movies.

Weaving through battle scenes, love scenes, birth scenes and the occasional minute of comedic relief is the music that Burwell hand-crafted for Twilight, and it’s his thread of notes that maintains a kind of continuity in this complicated storyline. If the movie had a theme song, Burwell’s notes would be it. They chime through scene transitions and swell during dramatic moments. They are instantly identifiable. To true fans, they are also familiar, because the Twilight series isn’t new to Burwell.

He composed original score for the first Twilight flick as well. Alongside tracks by Paramore, Muse, and the movie’s own, Robert Pattinson, his song Bella’s Lullaby is featured on the soundtrack. Surprisingly—given this juggernaut’s pop-culture status—Burwell’s music isn’t the only classical offering on the CD. Clair de Lune and La Traviata also appear on the deluxe DVD/CD version, introducing legions of pre-teens and teenagers to the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the APM Orchestra.

Burwell’s Wikipedia Page can list his accomplishments, and interviews with him reveal his illustrious history, but there are some questions that only the man himself can answer for sure. I called Burwell last week to hear his take on the million-dollar question: Team Edward or Team Jacob?

"Definitely on Team Edward," Burwell asserted.

[Caption: Composer Carter Burwell '77 (photo: Roger Karnbad/LFI)]