A Sound for Love and Loss: Bo Harwood on A Woman Under the Influence

On Film / Short Takes — Jun 18, 2018


“The music for A Woman Under the Influence is basically about love,” says Bo Harwood, the longtime collaborator of John Cassavetes’s who composed that film’s score. “It’s about loving somebody, loving your family, loving them no matter what.” This purity of emotion comes through in the stirring piano themes that recur throughout the movie, which were inspired by conversations Harwood had with Cassavetes about the emotionally turbulent story. When the director approached Harwood to work on the music, he described the female protagonist—a suburban housewife (Gena Rowlands) who suffers an emotional breakdown—over an impassioned hour-and-and-a-half-long phone conversation. And in the process, Harwood says, Cassavetes “became this woman.” In this new video by Daniel Raim—a follow-up to an earlier piece featuring Harwood—the composer talks about this and other memories from the production of the film, and reflects on how he crafted a sound that conveys the power of love shared by the characters while also evoking their melancholy and loss.