How does someone go about making a film about the hostile takeover of the White House, arguably the most secure building in the world? That was the challenge facing both director Antoine Fuqua and composer Trevor Morris when creating the new action thriller “Olympus Has Fallen.”
“Antoine and I from the beginning talked about [the fact] that we live in a post-9/11 world now. An event like this is possible, that someone could attack the White House,” Morris explained when reached by phone for an interview. “The key to the music and movie was to make things feel as real as possible, whether it is being under attack or an emotional connection–that kind of a thing. There’s a wide range of emotions.”
“Olympus Has Fallen” focuses on Mike Banning (Gerard Butler), a Secret Service agent assigned to guard the President of the United States (Aaron Eckhart). After he makes a life-or-death decision to save the POTUS, Banning is removed from the President’s detail.
“Antoine told me that when he researched with real Secret Service agents, they have what they call ‘100 percent success or 100 percent failure.’ That’s their only measure of their job,” Morris explained. “He’s forced in the movie to make a very difficult choice, which is to save the President while knowing he is probably going to let the First Lady die. In doing so, of course, it’s a no-win choice.”
Morris points out there are definitely a lot of layers to the movie, which is what attracted him to it. “It’s an action thrill ride-which is good enough-but there is an emotional layer to it that I found interesting. The goal for the music was to treat it with reverence so that we stayed with the sort of honesty of the moments, whatever that emotion was,” he offered.
When the White House falls to a terrorist attack, Banning steps up and tries to save the President once again. “He’s a serious pro and he sort of digs in to save the day. The movie starts off with the world in balance and then it becomes completely unbalanced,” the composer said.
Morris also called himself a big fan of the late, great Jerry Goldsmith, who composed the scores for such classics as “Planet of the Apes” and “Chinatown.” The score for “Olympus Has Fallen” may bring back memories of movies from the 1960s and 70s that featured great opening and closing themes.
“I told Antoine my goal was to make-on one hand–a somewhat ‘old school’ movie score with great lush orchestral themes. At the same time, make something that’s very now, very 2013, vey electronic-driven. The blending of those two worlds is what makes the score unique and what makes the movie unique,” he explained.
“Olympus Has Fallen,” rated R for strong violence and language throughout, currently is playing in theaters.