Joep's Arthouse Scores

February/March/April 2009

Un Secret is a French film telling the story of the Jewish François unfolding a gruesome family secret. The film is directed by Claude Miller and stars Cécile De France, Patrick Bruel and Julie Depardieu. While the film isn’t so inspiring, the music by Zbigniew Preisner is brilliant. His previous score to the Dutch film Sportman van de Eeuw was the lightest score he’d ever written and Un Secret brings back the sorrowful sound that’s typically Preisner. The melodic sensibility of solo instruments such as the piano, harp and flute are beautiful. The atmospheric serenity of the music and the sharp and clearly defined compositions, support the drama wonderfully. He used flute solos to define the religious background of François, which at the same time forms his musical identity. The pain and sorrow he evokes with these instruments is somewhat alike how Juliette Binoche’s character is feeling in Trois Couleurs Bleu. No music has been released on cd.  

Sometimes it’s particularly hard to determine what you really think of a score. Sure, the score hits you, but you also realize the composer was a bit too much influenced by temp score. This mixed feeling overwhelmed me while watching Der Baader Meinhof Komplex, scored by Peter Hinderthür and Florian Testloff. The massive percussion and string ostinatos moves passed you like a speeding train and the impressive tension building left me speechless.  The music moves as fast as the RAF (Rote Armee Fraction) in the film; terrorizing Germany for a very long time. But what you’re hearing seems a bit too much inspired by the Bourne scores by John Powell and possible by works from Tom Tykwer, Reinhold Heil and Johnny Klimek. Warner music released a cd containing 51 minutes of score and about 25 minutes of songs. 

The third and final picture that caught my attention was the Italian film Gomorra, directed Mateo Garrone. It’s shots like a documentary and offers a very raw and fascinating look into the Camorra, a mob who has been in control in the entire area of Naples for who knows how long. The film realistically shows how everyone in the area is somehow connected to the Gomorra and cannot escape them.  The filmmakers decided to use no score until the end credits, because they didn’t want to have something that broke with the style they had chosen. I do believe small bits of underscore would have been fairly interesting, but I certainly can understand their reasons for not doing so. Then when this riveting film ends and credits roll, you’re hearing this amazing aftermath cue. It’s a dark and sinister piece, using varied percussion and disturbing sounds that have had a huge impact on me, after everything I’ve seen. It was written by Robert Del Naja and Neil Davidge (both from Massive Attack) and Euwen Dickinson worked with them as the additional programmer. The track is called Herculaneum, named after the small town in Naples. Max Passante, a DJ from Naples, asked Robert Del Nalva (who was also born in Naples) to collaborate with Davidge for this cue for the film.

Written by Joep de Bruijn