BAFTA Conversations with Screen Composers: David Arnold at the Royal Albert Hall
David Arnold has an incredible back catalogue; he’s worked as a composer on five Bond films, Independence Day, Hot Fuzz, Zoolander, and many, many more. His work in TV is just as impressive, credited as he is on shows such as Little Britain, Toast of London and Sherlock, alongside working on the new West End musical Made in Dagenham. With such an incredible body of work, it is hard to see quite why this evening’s discussion is so tedious.
The venue for this event, the Royal Albert Hall’s Elgar room, is packed. The speakers – relaying the onstage conversation to the audience – however, are so quiet the entire audience has to strain to keep up. The issue here is not that David Arnold is uninteresting – far from it. We are treated to glimpses of his incredible life through personal anecdotes, star-studded stories and quips a-plenty. The problem is exactly that though, we are only given glimpses. Tommy Pearson in the role of interviewer is unfortunately far less engaging, and while he has clearly done his research, the questions just aren’t that interesting. Pearson seems happy to plough the beaten track, firing off questions that a cursory Google or simple common sense would provide an answer to, while constantly avoiding the tantalising tangents hinted at in Arnold’s responses. His presenting style is similarly bland, somehow managing to be simultaneously fawning and presumptuous, a persona reinforced by his series of “leading” questions that do not actually lead anywhere.
There are highlights, however, with Pearson’s questions; much like the proverbial stopped watch, occasionally striking gold. A discussion of Arnold’s work on Hot Fuzz reveals the complex intricacies of writing serious music for a comedy production, and an audience question leads into an incredible anecdote involving against-the-clock international travel while working on the sequel to Shaft. The many video clips of Arnold’s work are well-chosen, strategically placed throughout the evening to revive flagging interest, and the evening’s finale – a piano rendition of We Nearly Had It All from Made in Dagenham – serves as a reminder of quite how talented Arnold is.
For many people in attendance, this is the one and only chance they will have to see a true film icon probed in such an up-close and intimate setting. It’s a pity this chance was marred.
BAFTA Conversations with Screen Composers: David Arnold was a one-off event at the Royal Albert Hall. For further information about BAFTA events visit here.