Settling The Score: David Arnold vs Michael Giacchino

By Leo Mayr

November 2, 2019

As anyone who follows composers Michael Giacchino and David Arnold on Twitter can attest, the two have a - shall we say - ‘complicated’ relationship. In an effort to overcome their differences, the two composers did what any sane person would do: hire an orchestra, the Royal Albert Hall and settle the score, once and for all.

What followed was a symphonic battle like none other. In 9 rounds of merciless orchestral combat, the opponents took to the stage with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, conducted by Gavin Greenaway, suitably bringing each composer’s weaponry to life.

The composers brought with them music from their more than impressive careers and had the orchestra carry out the violent duels. Giacchino’s Incredibles 2 went up against Arnold’s The World Is Not Enough, Cloverfield summoned a vicious attack on Godzilla (1998) and Independence Day led a merciless offense on Star Trek (2009).

The evening was framed by appearances from the composers themselves, dressing up in battle armour (read: a silly Godzilla costume) or getting into arguments over their work on projects starring Benedict Cumberbatch which escalated when Giacchino resorted to physically assaulting his opponent with silly string.

The opponents were further aided in their battles by a couple of special guests. Matt Reeves, director of Cloverfield, was brought on stage to sing praises for, well, Cloverfield. He also took the opportunity to take a knee and ‘propose’ to Giacchino then and there, confirming their cooperation for the upcoming The Batman film.

In David Arnold’s corner, Neil Gaiman, author and showrunner for Good Omens, took to the stage to introduce the world premiere of the Good Omens theme. Things got a little out of hand when Colin Trevorrow, director of Jurassic World, began introducing Jurassic World and was quickly told that it would not be performed, and he had in fact mistaken an invitation to merely attend the event in the audience. Luckily, quick thinking on Giacchino’s part resolved the issue without a major impact on his future involvement in the Jurassic franchise…

To showcase their talents outside of film scoring, Arnold’s music for the medal ceremony from the London 2012 Olympics was met by Giacchino’s Voyage, a concert piece commemorating the 60th anniversary of NASA. Taking things even further, Arnold showed a great dedication to his cause when he took to the piano and performed a song from his musical Made In Dagenham. Giacchino countered with a dreaded weapon – a Star Wars-themed sea shanty that featured… audience participation!

In the end, though, no clear victor emerged. Despite all their efforts, by the time the composers had used all their available weapons, the opponents were still standing. After two hours of battle, both composers were handed a trophy for their efforts and participation and sent on their way.

So now, only one question still remains: Was the score really settled?

All pictures © Andy Paradise