Wojciech Kilar

" It truly is rewarding hearing such a great meditative piece to conclude the score "

Written by Joep de Bruijn - Review of the music as heard in the movie

Faustyna is a 1994 biography of St. Saint Maria Faustyna Kowalska (1905 – 1938). The film was directed by Jerzy Lukaszewicz, features Dorota Segda in the role of the nun and the music was composed by Wojciech Kilar.

She was strongly devoted to God and spent much of her life trying to unsolve the mystery of the mercy of God. Through visions she was able to communicate directly with him, which creates misconceptions amongst others. She also finds out what it means to do good by doing chores in various houses of the Congregation.

The composer approached the film with his recognizable minimalism mode, using two themes and a fulfilling choir composition for the end credits. The first is a classic religious theme, played by repeated series of chords for the strings section of the Katowice orchestra. It is reminiscent of several other Kilar themes, but most strongly to the divine theme from Brat naszego Boga (Our God's Brother, 1997). The second theme is another piece of minimalism for a solo woodwind and layers of strings, whose melody is slightly reminiscent of the Gloria theme composed for König der letzten Tage. The first theme is the overarching religious theme, the second has a small sense of optimism, most likely to represent Faustyna´ willingness to do good.

The film runs for a short 73 minutes and both themes are given an incredibly large amount of short statements; from half a minute up to almost 2 minutes at best. Kilar often builds his scores around the idea of having his minimal themes evolve into something much more emotional, if given the appropriate time. Faustyna is one of his efforts in which he does not fully succeed, primarily because the use of the two themes is quite overbearing throughout the film, leaving little room for silence. They lose some of their initial expressive strength as the film progresses. And yet, it is only in later scenes, showing her become increasingly more sick and experiencing more intense visions of God, that (only) the main theme regains its initial strength.

The end of the film provides for a new composition called Misericordia. The piece is sung in Latin by a mixed eight-part choir and accompanied by the string section and piano. It truly is rewarding hearing such a great meditative piece to conclude the score, a worthy tribute to the sainted Faustyna.

In terms of releases, a great wealth of Kilar´ music remains unreleased, like Faustyna. Some of its music was performed for the concert stage and an audio book (Divine Mercy in My Soul, based on her diary) is available, featuring music from Faustina and his classical work Missa Pro Pace. I am no expert on audio books (I haven´t even listened to it entirely), but it is interesting how film music can be used for another medium that shares the same subject.

(written 19-01-2020)
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- (music as heard in the movie 1994)