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Old 08-02-2013, 05:13 PM   #21 (permalink)
Gavin B.
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Two Great French Cinema Sountracks

Two groundbreaking French cinema soundtracks: Last Tango In Paris (1972) & Amelie (2001)

The Last Tango In Paris Story

Wasn't it just like Marlon Brando to make his middle aged acting comeback in a French produced film, directed by an Italian filmmaker (the magnificent Bernando Bertolucci), which created such a stir in America for it's taboo scenes of sexuality, it became the first mainstream movie to receive the dreaded "X" rating from the Motion Pictures of America film ratings board. Last Tango In Paris stormed America like barbarians at the gate and ushered in a new age of authenticity in filmmakers the gave us such great new realist film directors as Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Michael Cimino, Terrence Malick and John Cassavetes. After Last Tango there was no turning back to the old days of Hollywood formula movies.

Photo above: Gato Barbieri

One of the most distinctive features of Last Tango In Paris was a bracing film score that was composed and performed by a young Argentine saxophonist, Gato Barbieri. Barbieri fused elements of noir jazz, tango music and French musette music to write a soundtrack that bristled with sexual intensity. Who can ever forget Barbieri's tune Jeanne, which served as the theme music for Brando's sexual nemesis, the Parisian femme fatale, Maria Schneider?

The main theme of Last Tango shimmered with a delicate beauty but it morphed into a primal anthem of musical seduction.


The Amélie Story

Amélie was an off kilter, quirky French romantic comedy that came out of nowhere to take the world by storm in 2001. Amélie's director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, is a self-taught director who was very quickly interested by cinema, with a predilection for a fantastic cinema where form is as important as the subject.

Yann Tiersen L'enfant Terrible of French Pop

Jenunet's choice of Yann Tiersen to compose the score to Amélie's was a stroke of genius. Tiersen was the L'enfant terrible of French pop who grew up playing the Sex Pistols and the Ramones until somebody discovered his genius at music composition and arrangement. Jenunet and Tiersen, these two rebellious iconoclasts of French cinema turned out to be a perfect cinematic pair.

On the song Comptine d'un autre été: L'après-midi, Tiersen writes and performs a piano solo piece that strongly resembles the style of the great French classical minimalist Erik Satie:

But the full range of Tiersen's brilliance is on full display on the majestic orchestral pieces he writes and performs for the Amélie musical score. In the song, Les Jours Tristes Tiersen has full orchestra parts and he plays assortment of odd musical instruments like a toy piano, a squeeze box, and a banjo to create a mysterious, other-worldly quality to the soundtrack.

Did I tell you that Tiersen is also an instrumental prodigy who plays twenty different musical instruments with proficiency? Tiersen played most of the instruments on the Amélie soundtrack himself using overdub recording techniques. Some folks get all the talent...

There are two types of music: the first type is the blues and the second type is all the other stuff.
Townes Van Zandt

Last edited by Gavin B.; 08-02-2013 at 10:03 PM.
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