How the ‘Glass Onion’ Score Drew from 1978’s ‘Death on the Nile’

For the score of “Glass Onion,” Rian Johnson’s hotly anticipated follow-up to his 2019 whodunnit “Knives Out,” composer Nathan Johnson took inspiration from “Death on the Nile” — not this year’s Kenneth Branagh remake, but the original 1978 version with a score from “The Godfather” composer Nino Rota.

“I love Nino Rota so much, and me and Rian grew up loving all his work,” Johnson told IndieWire Crafts and Animation Editor Bill Desowitz at IndieWire’s Consider This FYC Brunch. “Rian really wanted to lean into the fun, and lean into that romantic lyricism which I am such a fan of and Rota was so amazing at. So obviously there’s the suspense and the character moments, but right up front for the main titles, we kind of wanted to say, ‘We’re going to Europe, come along with us on this grand adventure.'”

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At the brunch, Desowitz spoke with both Johnson and editor Bob Ducsay, who also worked on the original “Knives Out.” The two spoke about coming back to the sequel, collaborating with Rian Johnson and series star Daniel Craig, and what they wanted to do differently with this follow-up.

Ducsay said that while there are several similarities between both films, the differing structures of each installment changed his approach to editing. Whereas “Knives Out” opened with the victim already dead, “Glass Onion” dedicates its first act to building up to the murder, so Ducsay was far more focused on creating suspense while editing.

“Structurally, the movie has a lot of complexities, some of which are even more involved than what we did in the first film, which always presents some challenges in editorial,” Ducsay said. “It takes us a little while to get to the murder, and I think there’s a lot of anticipation, which is a great deal of fun for the audience because simply trying to figure out who’s going to get killed is pretty interesting … It’s that push-pull between suspense and surprise, and this film leans much more on suspense.”

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” releases November 23 for a one-week limited theatrical run before streaming on Netflix December 23.

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