I am lucky enough to share a cup of tea with Anthony Minghella at Abbey Road before the world's largest sound studio opens to the public for its first ever film festival. Audiences will have the chance to enjoy such pictures as Live and Let Die, The Wall and Shrek in the same room as their scores were recorded. Minghella's The Talented Mr Ripley is in the programme, too, featuring Jude Law on sax and Matt Damon on piano.
Minghella is one of the firm believers that the EMI studios, Mecca for zebra-crossing Beatles maniacs and graffiti merchants alike, are a unique and hallowed place for making music. Ever since the first piece was recorded here in 1931 ("Land of Hope and Glory", played by
the London Symphony Orchestra and conducted by its composer, Edward Elgar), Abbey Road has been at the centre of popular music culture, and not just because the Fab Four decided to name an album after it. The space, the acoustics and even the microphones are venerated. Anyone fixated with the recording of music has tended to end up at the former Victorian bordello that is the Abbey Road Studios--including film directors.
"I have always thought of myself as a musician working in another territory," says Minghella. When he was a drama student at Hull University, he had a composition spot on Radio Humberside every Friday lunchtime, which involved him making up an original piece and playing it. "It's how I supplemented my student grant," he says. The BBC should hurriedly search through Radio Humberside's archive.
Now an Oscar-winning and knighted director, Minghella acknowledges that he scores his films very early in the production process, almost before casting them. …