Composer Mychael Danna Adds Multi-Cultural Musical Colors to ‘Stillwater’ Score

A central theme in Tom McCarthy’s film “Stillwater,” reaching theaters this weekend, is that of culture clash: Oklahoman Bill Baker (Matt Damon) in southern France, visiting his imprisoned daughter (Abigail Breslin) and becoming involved with a French theater actress (Camille Cottin).

That idea extended to the music, composed by Oscar winner Mychael Danna (“Life of Pi”). Danna, whose specialty has long been the authentic application of world-music sounds into film scores, was an obvious choice “because it takes place in Marseille, which is a kind of multi-cultural melting pot,” he says.

The challenge, however, was McCarthy’s direction that the music be “not too specific, culturally, but just the right amount of flavor — something you don’t notice, you just feel.” The intention, Danna says, was for the viewer to experience Marseille and its people “through Bill’s eyes.”

Baker’s middle-American roots suggested country flavors, so Danna assembled
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