Movie picks: George Lucas and world-renowned music producer Marius de Vries consider six decades of music’s best for the soundtrack to Strange Magic
Marius de Vries (“Moulin Rouge”) has been involved in some of the most culture-defining recordings and soundtracks of the past two decades. In his latest project, he serves as musical director and composer for George Lucas’ new animated film, “Strange Magic.”
“Strange Magic” is a fairy tale—but not your average fairy tale. It’s a madcap musical with a princess who has sworn off love, a vulnerable villain, a slightly nutty Sugar Plum Fairy, a tenacious and big-hearted elf, a mischievous imp, and a knight who is no Prince Charming.
“I love telling stories with music,” says executive producer George Lucas. ‘Strange Magic’ may take a different approach than we did with ‘American Graffiti,’ but I had just as much fun. I love all kinds of music from classical to ethnic to contemporary. Since childhood, music has been an important part of my life.”
“I chose Marius as the musical director because I loved what he did with ‘Moulin Rouge,’” Lucas continues. “I’ve always thought that sound and music were just as important as the visuals in a film. It was an extraordinary experience to work with Marius on such an intricate collection of songs and the complementary score.”
Weaving together new versions of favorite songs from the last six decades—including songs made famous by artists ranging from Mickey & Sylvia and Elvis Presley to Kelly Clarkson, Beyoncé and Lady Gaga – is no small task. According to de Vries, criteria for song selections included—first and foremost—storytelling needs, as well as emotional resonance and—at times, comedic potential. He adds, “Each song needed to feel true to the character singing it.”
De Vries says he took Lucas’ lead when it came to the stylistic anchors of the film’s music. “Each of the kingdoms’ tribes is colored by a specific genre of pop music drawn from a very eclectic and diverse range of periods and styles, and woven into a narrative tapestry that still manages to feel coherent and emotionally logical.”
If pressed to identify the songs that form the core of the film, de Vries says “Strange Magic” is the heart of the movie, while “I Can’t Help Falling in Love” is the spine. “Love Is Strange” showcases the underlying pretext of the story. And, of course “Mistreated” deserves a special mention, “because we are in danger of forgetting Deep Purple,” he jokes.