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Alex Heffes scores Emperor
9-Mar-2013 -

Lakeshore Records has released Emperor, the original motion picture soundtrack digitally on March 5, 2013.  Alex Heffes (The Last King of Scotland, State of Play) composed the original score.
“Emperor is a film that deals with the meeting of two cultures at the crossroads of 20th Century world history,” said Heffes. “This is a rich and complex backdrop for scoring a movie.”
A gripping tale of love and honor forged between fierce enemies of war, Emperor unfolds the story, inspired by true events, of the bold and secret moves that won the peace in the shadows of postwar Japan.
Matthew Fox joins with Academy Award-winner Tommy Lee Jones, newcomer Eriko Hatsune and award winning Japanese star Toshiyuki Nishida to bring to life the Amerian occupation of Japan in the perilous and unpredictable days just after Emperor Hirohito’s Wold War II surrender.  As General Douglas MacArthur (Jones) suddenly finds himself the de facto ruler of a foreign nation, he assigns an expert in Japanese culture – and psychological warfare – General Bonner Fellers (Fox), to covertly investigate the looming question hanging over the country: should the Japanese Emperor, worshiped by his people but accused of war crimes, be punished or saved?

“Director Peter Webber discussed with me early on the need to combine a Japanese sense of restraint and minimalism with the more urgent and pressing US investigation,” Heffes described. “I wanted to combine symphonic orchestral scoring with some Japanese instrumentation to retain a sense of emotion that could be read by movie audiences both western and eastern.” 
To achieve this Heffes features three soloists: piano (Simon Chamberlain), cello (Alice Neary), and shakuhachi (Clive Bell) together with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra (conducted by Heffes).  He also featured Japanese ceremonial percussion to drive the movie forward.
“The opening of the film has a broad string melody for the victorious US forces entering Japan,” explained Heffes.  “The end credits however, reprise that melody but with a slow elegiac brass choral arrangement to show how the early days of a victory pass leaving a deeper and more complex problem to be solved.” 
Said the film’s director Peter Webber,
“Alex Heffes’ marvelous score takes us into this mysterious, ravaged, yet strangely beautiful world and helps bring it to life.”
The score is available for download from

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