THE SMALLEST SHOW ON EARTH.

It’s funny that certain movies or TV shows and even pieces of music seem to stay with you throughout your life. I was born in the mid 1950’s and started to become interested with TV and films from a very early age around 5 I think, my family too were very cinema orientated as in they would go to the cinema at least twice a week, and in the 1960’s there were so many movies around to watch.

But also as the 1960’s progressed movies that had been made in the 1950’s started to appear on the little box of wonders that was stood in the living room of most households in the UK. Mainly black and white TV’s but there were a few colour especially as the world cup became more interesting and England were in the 1966 final and subsequently became the Champions of the World.

So the BBC in most cases would show the great Ealing comedies and films by the Boulting Brothers, classic British war movies, robbery capers, suspense filled dramas, and the kitchen sink dramas that were so popular such as A Taste of Honey, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, A Kind of Loving and before these Love on the Dole. The films were usually shown on a weekend, normally on a Saturday afternoon on BBC 2 because sport was on BBC 1, and then with more hard-hitting stuff being screened late at night. It was these Saturday afternoon matinees that I as a ten year old would love to sit and watch, things like The Lady killers, The Lavender Hill Mob, Passport to Pimlico, Man in the Moon, The Mouse that Roared, Genevieve, Kind hearts and Coronets, I,m Alright Jack, being wonderful pieces of comedy and escapism. One movie that I really loved was The Smallest Show on Earth (1957).

And although I am not in anyway, making comparisons between this movie and Cinema Paradiso. I have to say it gave me the same thrills, uncovered the same emotions, and evoked a sense of nostalgia, that is hard to generate nowadays with the so-called big movie block busters.

The Smallest Show on Earth, had what I think was an impressive cast, a veritable who’s who of 1950’s and 1960’s British cinema which included Virginia McKenna, Bill Travers, Peter Sellers, Margaret Rutherford, Bernard Miles, Leslie Phillips, Sid James, Jane Cunnigham, and Francis De Wolff. With a storyline that although maybe was a little implausible was something that we believed in and a string of events that seemed so innocent compared to today’s standards.

The talent did not stop in front of the camera as the movie was directed by Basil Dearden (Dead of Night, The Blue Lamp, Khartoum), with cinematography by Douglas Slocombe (The Titfield Thunderbolt, Hue and Cry, The Man in the White suit, Rollerball, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark) and a musical score by renowned British composer William Alwyn (In Search f the Castaways, The Swiss Family Robinson, A Night to Remember, Carve her Name with Pride, Malta Story).

Director Basil Dearden was a former stage director and entered the world of cinema as an assistant to director filmmaker Basil Dean. Born Basil Clive Dear in 1911, he soon worked his way up the ladder and directed his first film in 1941;which was a film that  he collaborated with actor/director Will Hay on entitled The Black Sheep of Whitehall. Two years later he directed his first film in his own right as a filmmaker and eventually became associated with writer/producer Michael Relph, together they made films on themes not often tackled in British films, such as homosexuality and race relations. In the ’60s Dearden embarked on a new phase of his career by directing large-scale action pictures, the best of which was the epic war movie Khartoum, which starred Charlton Heston and Sir Laurence Olivier in 1966. The film which became a classic and was a critical and financial success is still regarded as an iconic British movie today by fans and critics alike. In 1970 he worked on the Roger Moore thriller The Man Who Haunted Himself, but it was soon after the movie was released in 1971 that Dearden was killed in a car crash on the same stretch of road where Moore’s character was also killed in an accident in the movie. He won the BAFTA for best British film in 1959 for Sapphire.

Cinematographer Douglas Slocombe was born in London on February 10th 1913, and has long been regarded as one of the film industry’s premiere cinematographers, he began his career as a photojournalist for Life magazine and the Paris-Match newspaper before the outbreak of World War II. During the war he became a newsreel cameraman, and when the war finally ended he began to work for Ealing Studios as a camera operator, making his debut as a full-fledged cinematographer on the studios Dead of Night  (1945). Slocombe, is credited with giving Ealing films that unique, realistic look it became famous for. He left Ealing embarking on a freelance career because he did not want to be tied to just one studio. He started to divide his time between England and America. He won the BAFTA for his work on the Dirk Bogarde, Joseph Losey directed movie The Servant in1963 and went onto lift numerous awards for his work on movies such as The Great Gatsby in 1974, and Julia in 1977. Slocombe became a favourite of director Steven Spielberg, working with him on three Indiana Jones movies. Slocombe, also worked on movies such as The Blue Max, The Lion in Winter, Never Say Never Again, Jesus Christ Superstar and Rollerball. He passed away after a fall in 2016. His career began in 1940 with Lights out in Europe for which he did not receive acredit, his final film being Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade in 1989.

Born in 1905, William Alwyn was a composer who not only scored movies but was an active and important British concert hall composer. He was a Virtuoso flautist and composer who taught at London’s Royal Academy of Music as a professor from 1926 to 1955. During the war years, he was employed by the Ministry of Information, where he came to the fore as a composer of scores for documentary films which were used for morale building, the instruction of troops and for propaganda. One of these films, a newsreel reportage entitled The True Glory which was released in 1945 and won an Academy Award.



After the war, Alwyn had several successful collaborations with the director Carol Reed, the most notable of these being his haunting music for the 1947 movie Odd Man Out. The Fallen Idol from 1948 and The Running Man which was released in 1963. Alwyn also composed a rousing and robust score for the Burt Lancaster comedy adventure The Crimson Pirate in 1952. In addition to his film work, Alwyn composed operas, symphonies, chamber music, and concertos for piano, violin, viola and harp. He conducted the London Philharmonic Orchestra in several recordings of his compositions. William Alwyn became a fellow of the British Film Academy in 1958 for his contribution to the development of British cinema. In 1975 Alwyn married Doreen Carwithen who was also a respected composer who wrote for film.

English film comedies I fear are now extinct, we will alas never see the likes of Margaret Rutherford, Bernard Miles and Peter Sellars work their magic and bring so much to a storyline. This trio of excellence were vital to the success of The Smallest Show on Earth  the timing and sheer quality of their performances were astonishing and rewarding to watch. Three eccentric yet emotive portrayals of characters that were the life force of the picture house at the centre of the films attention The Bijou or the Flea Pit as it was referred to in the movie by some. In its heyday it had been an opera house and in recent times re-branded a Kinema but after many years of falling into disrepair it had fallen to its lowest ebb becoming a poor second to the Grand picture house in the same town. I think actor Bernard Miles, gives what is probably one of his best performances as the Bijou’s resident handy man, cleaner and door attendant, who’s only request throughout is to have a proper uniform. Old Tom was it seemed content to carry on working way past retirement and as long as he had his cats a uniform and was allowed to earn a living, he would go on forever.

The same goes for Mrs Fazackalee (Rutherford) and Mr Quill (Sellers), content to stay forever as long as she could get rid of the rats in the building and he got new projectors or at least had the old ones repaired. Then there is the couple who inherit the Bijou because of the death of an Uncle, these are played by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, (pre Born Free days). Who together probably had some of the worst lines in the script, but once you get past the period humour of the time they become quite endearing. With the script containing some of the most natural and dry wit penned, a thing that Hollywood has never been able to do successfully in my humble opinion.

There are many entertaining and memorable moments within this gem of a movie, but one particular scene stays with me after so many years, it is a scene that is poignant and filled with heartrending emotion, it is when the new owners return from a dinner engagement to hear music coming from the theatre, they discover the three old employees are watching a silent movie.

Margaret Rutherford’s character accompanying the images from the pit on piano, Old Tom sits embracing his cat mesmerized by the flickering scenes and the delicate and fragile sounding music, with Mr Quill moved to tears as he shows the movie from the projection room, and talks briefly to the new owners explain that the films are sections of silent movies which he has kept over the years, all three are lost in the old days of the Kinema, the sight of Rutherford playing the piano and Old Tom fixated upon the screen is superbly acted out and something that is engaging and highly emotional.

The Smallest Show on Earth is a treasure trove of sights and sounds from a bygone age, that is still sorely missed by many.

TALKING MUSIC AND FILMS WITH COMPOSER ERWANN KERMORVANT.

Born in 1972 in Lorient, Morbihan, France. Erwann Kermorvant studied clarinet at a local conservatory before studying composition in the USA at the Grove School of Music and UCLA. He was instructed in film composition by Gerald Fried, Don B. Ray and Steven Scott Smalley before moving back to France to have his first musical success with Mensana and Katoomka. Kermorvant lived and made music in Lorient for a while before moving to Paris in 1999 to establish himself as a film composer. After several short films, he finally made his debut in 2002 with the television comedy Les frangines.

ERWANN KERMORVANT.

Les vacances de Sam I think was your first scoring assignment, this was a short film from 2000, how did you become involved on this movie?

Wow, I never thought I’d get a question about my first scoring assignment! You really have done your homework. Let me try to remember how it all started. I think it was after I did my first paid composing job for a role-playing game magazine called Dragon, if I’m not mistaken, which released themed CDs “Soundtracks”. Science fiction, Heroic fantasy etc. I had to do a heroic fantasy one and I think the director of that film somehow heard it. I have no idea how it got into his hands.

Was music always a career that you wanted to undertake, and were you always wanting to write for film?

To tell the truth, I didn’t realize that composing was an option until the end of high school. Until then, I was more or less aiming for a career in genetics or biology. I studied at the conservatory in my hometown. Clarinet and harmony. But I could not see myself as a professional clarinettist. I wrote little pieces on the side, hence the harmony lessons, but I did not know what to do with them.

Your score for Bowling has just been released digitally by Plaza Mayor, the film however was released in 2012, why did it take so long for the score to be released as it is such a great soundtrack?

I’m notoriously picky with my mixes… On a more serious note, I’ve been lucky enough to have a lot of projects in the meantime and little time to devote to the release of the soundtracks. On the other hand, these films were released at a time when you could only consider a physical release of the music. This, considering the costs involved, did not allow the release of a twenty-minute soundtrack. Since the arrival of platforms, things have changed and indeed, I don’t like to release soundtracks that I don’t like the sound, the edits and the order. I happened to have a window of opportunity last summer to rework and remix some soundtracks that I had left behind. So, there you have it.

What is the starting point for you when working on a score, do you like to sit and watch the movie a number of times, before you start to sketch out ideas about music, style and sound etc?

A vast subject. It depends a bit on the project and the director I’m working with. For example, Olivier MARCHAL, with whom I have worked a lot, sends me the script very early. I love reading his scripts. They feed me a lot. Then, he tells me: “You know what I like, do as usual” and then I start working with his editor with whom I work in parallel with the editing. But I already have a good idea of the colours and sometimes certain themes when I read them. In other cases, I receive films that are already advanced or even completely edited. And sometimes with sample music. My first viewing is done by cutting the music in order to be as little influenced as possible. And then from there I start to put ideas on the piano often. I like to improvise while watching the images.

When discussing a potential project with the director or producer is it just the sound or style of the music that they talk about or maybe how a score can help a movie and where music may not be needed?

Again, each case is different but generally the discussion is more about the style of music than the sound. On the other hand, it is often too early to talk about music placement or its possible role. But it all depends on how far along the project is when I am contacted. If it is already shot or edited or if it is a pre-shooting meeting.

 As I already mentioned Bowling is now available on Spotify and Apple etc, when a score of yours is to be released in whatever format, do you take an active role in compiling the tracks you would like released to represent your work?

Very involved as I said before. If I’m going to do a soundtrack release I like it to be what I think it is. That’s probably why I take so long to release the soundtracks. So if I get a satisfactory result before the release of the film, so much the better, if not, I prefer to postpone the release when I really have time to devote to it and when I like the result.

In 2004 you scored 36th Precinct for director Olivier Marchal, which is a varied soundtrack, did the director have any specific ideas about where music should be used and what style of music would be best for the movie?

For my first collaboration with Olivier MARCHAL, we had to discover each other. I think we tried some things. All I had of the film at the beginning of my work was the script. So I wrote themes that I sent to the editor, who gave me feedback or asked me to go in this or that direction depending on what he was working on. Since that film I have always worked in parallel with the editing for Olivier’s films. As for the music, we just knew that we needed a strong and lyrical theme around Camille, Leo Vrinks’ wife, as the whole story revolves around her. Olivier has always been a fan of Morricone and that was the direction he gave me.

Have you encountered the temp track and is it something you like or are indifferent about?

Yes of course I have often had temp-tracks for the projects I have worked on. But I always cut them off at first viewing. To make up my own mind. But sometimes on the second viewing, or if the director asks me to listen to something in particular that he likes, I put the temp-track back in to see what choices have been made so far. Sometimes some temp-track can help to start a discussion about the artistic direction. But sometimes they are so overwhelming that they cut off any thought of what might be possible to try. This is also why I often work in parallel with the editing. So that the editor works as little as possible with a temp-track. This process is a bit longer and doesn’t guarantee to be original for each film but I find that this process at least allows you to ask the right questions about the music rather than just plastering on the soundtrack of the latest film without worrying about whether it is what the film needs.

You have worked on many genres of film and TV do you think there is one genre in particular that is maybe more difficult to work on than any other?

Comedy,  As a producer friend of mine used to say: “It is always easier to make people cry than to make them laugh”. And this is so true for music too. Comedy music is probably the trickiest thing to do. In fact, if you think about it now, if comedy works in a film, it doesn’t need music, or very little. But sometimes to accompany a situation, you need music. And it takes so much delicacy to find the right balance between what is funny and what is ridiculous. I am currently working on a series called “Bright Minds” (Astrid & Raphaelle in France). And it’s a police series where one of the protagonists is autistic. There are a lot of comical situations. And the whole point is to laugh with her and not at her. It’s very perilous. And very difficult to do musically.

Is there a great deal of difference between scoring a TV project as opposed to a feature film or a short?

Apart from the budget, I don’t think so. My involvement is pretty much the same for every project. If I’m trusted and left to my own devices, I work the same way. After that, some projects are more interesting than others…

What musical education did you have?

I entered the conservatory at the age of 7 in the clarinet class. I stayed there until I was 17. I then moved to Los Angeles to study at the Grove School of Music. Then I went to UCLA to study at the Film Music Program under Don Ray. While there, I was fortunate to be taught by Dick Grove, Jack Smalley, Steven-Scott Smalley, Don Ray, Gerald Fried, Thom Sharp, Jeff Rona and to assist Ralph Grierson on numerous recording sessions. After graduation I returned to France.

Going back to Bowling, I just love the sound of this score, you incorporate bagpipes into the score because it is set in Brittany, did you research the music of the region and who are the pipe performers on the score?

One of the biggest Celtic music festivals takes place in Lorient (my hometown) every year. I was surrounded by the sound of bagpipes all my childhood. So, I didn’t have to look very far inside myself for influences for this score. I don’t remember who played the Irish flute and biniou parts but I do remember that the Breton musician I wanted and had worked with was not available. So I worked remotely with a musician from…Los Angeles… Chris Bleth! He did a remarkable job.

Do you like to conduct all your film and TV scores or is this not always possible?

I hardly ever conduct. First of all because I think it’s a real job and I’m very bad at it. And also because I am much more focused on the music when I am in the booth. When scoring a short movie which is something that can be less than ten minutes in duration, is it difficult to establish a musical identity for the project? No more than for a feature film. I would even say that short films force efficiency. And to define an identity very quickly. But once again, it all depends on the film.  

Your score for Ma Premiere Fois is an emotive and haunting one, I felt it was quite Barry-esque in places and made gentle nods to the music of Georges Delerue. What composers would you say have influenced and inspired you?

Thank you for the compliments, they are composers I greatly admire. I was lucky enough to see a lot of film music recordings during my stay in Los Angeles and they all had a great influence on me. Some of the ones that have had the biggest impact on me are obviously Danny Elfman, Alf Clausen, Georges Delerue, David Newman. And then there are those who influenced my writing like Ennio Morriconne, Thomas Newman, John Powell, Terence Blanchard… I voluntarily don’t mention John Williams and Bernard Herrmann because their influence is so important for all film music composers that it is obvious. But I have also listened a lot to classical composers who have influenced me a lot. Take the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century in France and Russia and you will have the list. And also a lot of rock bands. A lot of jazz.

Do you perform on any of your film or TV scores?

Yes. All the Synthesizer to start with. But also sometimes some percussions, guitars, or woodwinds. And also some instruments that I own and that I would have difficulty in recording outside my home.

How much time do you normally have to score a movie, maybe use Overdose as an example, which is an Amazon production with a dark and atmospheric score that is mainly electronic if I am correct?

Overdose is a special case because Olivier’s traditional editor was not available, so he chose to work with an editor who prefers to work on his own while he gets a first version. So I only started working once the editing was in V1. Given the back and forth process with Amazon, and the fact that everyone had validated the temp-track, I preferred to wait until I had a locked Image before really incorporating my ideas into the film. This meant that I had very little time between the lock and the recording. About fifteen days I think I remember. There wasn’t a lot of orchestra but the score is still very hybrid. Even the very synthetic cues are tinged with real strings to break the cold textures with the warmth of the real musicians.

What is your opinion of the non-thematic or drone fashion of scoring movies which seems to be the current trend?

It’s a fad, hopefully we’ll get back to more thematic scores. But, after all, some films work very well with this type of music and would probably be too heavy with orchestral scores. I think films get the music they deserve. To have a thematic film score, you need a film that is suitable for it.

What is next for you?

I am currently working on season 4 of Bright Minds (Astrid & Raphaelle). A soundtrack should be released soon. In parallel I’m also working on a series by Olivier Marchal for Netflix. I have several other series projects coming up and also normally a film later this Year.

JONAS WIKSTRAND, COMPOSER AND SOUND DESIGNER.

Driven by passion from early childhood, composer & sound designer Jonas Wikstrand is constantly inspired to evoke emotion through unique sounds and original music. Jonas started playing the violin at age of 3 and started composing music at 6, and has since then been working in tons of musical directions. From working with large symphonies to producing Grammy winning rock bands, Jonas has created a very diverse discography throughout the years. In the last years Jonas has been concentrating on developing an original voice in the big white noise of music & sounds for visual media, with the objective to tailor art that stands today and in the future to come.

Jonas Wikstrand.

Your first scoring assignment was in 2010 for a short film entitled Serenade, how did you break into writing music for film? 

I guess ‘The Serenade’ was technically my first paid film I worked on, but I worked on several student projects before that. My thought in the beginning, when I was still a student, was not to approach established filmmakers but to approach people that were also film students at the time. That was a great way to learn the craft of scoring properly and to get a bunch of projects on my resume for a showcase. One of the students I worked with got hired to direct and produce a short film and he asked me to do the music. That was ‘The Serenade’. A lot of the students I approached I still work with today. Now 15 years later we’re all being established professionals. 

Was this a career that you set out to do or did you initially have another path in mind?

After I decided to not become a professional ice hockey player when I was 10-11, I knew I wanted to work with music. I worked in so many fields of music before I was scoring films. I ran a recording studio, I played in a piano bar, I was a drum and band teacher and I toured the world with a heavy metal band. During my youth I composed a lot of concert music with visual context but no pictures. When I scored my first film I instantly felt I could use all my knowledge from all fields in one profession. I’ve been hooked ever since!

You began to play violin aged three and started to compose at 6, what formal musical education did you receive?

I started playing at the local music school where I grew up. Even at a very young age my dad had my practice the violin every day. But it wasn’t until I started to create my own music in the mid 90s that I felt the meaning of it all. When I was 6 years old people migrated from 2D video games to computer powered 3D video games. I felt so dizzy playing those games so instead I found a software called Fasttracker 2. This was an early version of a MIDI-programming based software that you could write and program music in. That’s how I started working with music production. Other than that, I’ve studied music and composition in high school, and then I’ve got a bachelor’s degree at The Royal College of Music in Stockholm.

As well as a composer you are a multi-instrumentalist, how many instruments do you play?

I love playing instruments and I love creating tracks of me layering myself. So It’s more that I have a sound in mind and I keep working until I get there even if it takes a lot of practicing. It’s helpful to both be playing both strings and woodwinds however. It helps me create organic sounding music without having to rely on samples. 

You are also credited as a sound designer, is this basically scoring a film but with sounds, fx and dialogue, etc? 

Yes that is correct, I worked as a sound designer for multiple TV shows, feature films, trailers and commercials.

When scoring a film do you have a set routine in the way that you approach it, by this I mean do you like to create a central theme and build the remainder of the score around this, or maybe you write the smaller cues first and then move onto to bigger pieces?

I like to read the script, take a look at the mood board, read the character descriptions etc. and then just move away from it all to compose freely. It often starts with me jamming for hours on an instrument. When ideas start to come I go to references and listen to get inspired from other music. After that I create a conceptual suite with themes, ideas, sounds and what not. It’s not until I have the concept down that I start composing to pictures. 

 When creating music for a commercial is it harder establishing a musical identity or sound because of the short duration of the project?

The most success I had with commercials have been from sync licensing where the music I’ve done is being placed in the spot by an editor. However, the times I’ve scored commercials I approached it the same way as I would with longer projects. I feel like for any duration the tone and the concept is just as important.

How many times do you watch a film or project before you start to put together ideas for the score? 

Usually just one or two times. Then I move away from the visuals and compose freely before jamming to the pictures. If I would start scoring and working on a sequence with, let’s say 30 seconds of music for an opening cue, I want to know what that music is going to develop into at the end of the film. I need to have the basic dramaturgy down, like how the screenwriter works. That’s why I need the thematic DNA written before I can start with pictures.

A recent score of yours is for the TV series, Kronprisen Som Forsvann, which had 18 episodes I think, do you score these in the order that the episodes are to be shown, and as it is a series do you ever re-cycle any music from earlier episodes into later ones?

It was 24 episodes! 🙂 I worked with a handful of themes that kept returning and developed throughout the duration of the series. Even though a lot of similar music reappeared in the series all scenes were specifically scored and tweaked to the pictures. But again, I knew where I wanted to land in the last episode so I kept hinting and revealing more and more of the music as the series progressed. 

Staying with the series and your score, how many live players as well as yourself did you have for the project and what electronic elements did you have?

I played all the parts myself for that series. Instrumentation for most music was violin, nyckelharpa, viola, cello, recorder, clarinet, mandolin, bouzouki, guitar & double bass. 

Are there any composers, bands or artists that have inspired you or influenced the sound and style that you employ in your film scores?

I probably get inspired from everything I see and hear. What to do and what not to do! haha. I watch a lot of animated movies these days with my daughter. Those films often have so much elaborate and fun music which is really inspiring. Often, it’s composed in certain genres. I love composing in genres!

Have you encountered the temp track, and is this a tool that you find useful when working on a project? 

I don’t mind temp tracks. If the director is very specific about the tempo of the scene it could save many feedback rounds to just have a temp track to show general direction. I don’t mind not having a temp track either. I enjoy the mix of different approaches for different projects.

What would you say is the job of music in film?

Listen. Communicate. Collaborate. Understanding story. Translating story into music. You’re just as much of a filmmaker and storyteller as a composer. Use your identity and uniqueness and don’t listen to much how other composers are working

 Håkan Bråkan is a great score filled with energy and its so much fun, with references to a few scores by the likes of Grusin and Williams etc, did the producers have specific ideas about what route the music should take in the movie?

Oh thank you so much! I think your review of the score captured the whole discussion I initially had with the director, (ha ha). We wanted homages from a bunch of classics but with a unique identity that felt like our film.

What is coming up for you?

I just started working on an animated feature which really excites me at the moment! Then I’ll be working on a sequel to Håkan Bråkan this year. And then there’s a lot of other projects under NDA right now, I’ll keep you updated! 🙂

https://www.jonaswikstrand.com/musicreel

QUEL POSTO NEL TEMPO – (That Place in Time).

Memory is a door with which to cross time, but the key to open that door is Love.

As a collector of movie score’s, I am always on the lookout for new and inspiring material at a time when maybe film music is probably not that inventive, melodious, or innovative.

Just today a composer sent me a message saying this is a score I have been involved with recently, I listened to the first few tracks, and I must admit I was totally consumed and smitten by the sheer beauty and emotion of the score, the richness of its themes is stunning and the artistry and perfect performances of the soloists and players involved on the project are all phenomenal all of which are members of the Orchestra of Conservatorie of Rovigo.

I straight away went looking for the movie which is Quel Posto nel Tempo (That Place in Time) and found that it is about conductor who has dementia, a dreadful illness that destroys lives and wipes out memories.  Mario (Leo Gullotta), a retired conductor, spends his days in a luxury resort and care facility in the South of England, he has long suffered from Alzheimer’s and is often bombarded by thoughts and images of his past. Images and thoughts that disappear as swiftly as they have manifested themselves due to the cruel illness. He lives every day with the fear that the disease will erase his past, but above all he fears losing his thoughts of the love of his wife Amelia (Giovanna Rei), who died years before, and of his daughter Michela (Beatrice Arnera).

The reality of his days are confused between flashbacks and imaginary visions, which work in such a way that the viewer also  experiences first hand, through the eyes of the protagonist, the terror of debilitating and confusing illness. The movie is directed with passion and compassion by filmmaker Giuseppe Alessio Nuzzo.

The score is so heartwarming and affecting it is I must admit difficult not to become caught up with it and shed a tear or two in the process. Quel Posto nel Tempo (That Place in Time) has to it poignant and haunting compositions. Many of the pieces within the score are written by different composers as it is a genuinely collaborative work, a labour of love that in essence is a homage to the music of Italian cinema. Why? Well, because there are many nods of acknowledgement throughout the work that evoke memories of the trademark sounds of Italian film music, lilting thematic material, touching piano solos, subtle woodwind, melancholy cello and violin solos, guitar performances and exquisite wordless female voice that at times is supported by more voices bringing an ethereal sound to the proceedings. There are no standout tracks as the entire score is magnificent and each cue has to it a heartfelt and heartbreaking musical persona a musical voice that reaches out touches one’s heart and awakens one’s emotions.

I hear in the score the genius of Ennio Morricone, the subtle yet majestic style of Marco Frisina, and the beauty and melodic lushness of Nino Rota. With affiliations and inspiration being taken from the works of Max Richter and Abel Korzeniowksi too, with some of the composers applying certain compositional techniques that they had been studying under the guidance of Maestro Biscarini. This is a powerful score, a gracious and affecting work that is overflowing with delicate nuances and fragile tone poems.

The score as I say is a collaborative or collective effort which was the work project of the master’s in film music led by David di Donatello Winner Marco Biscarini: with whom the composers and performers are attending research studies about contemporary film music, they agreed together about the music elements of the score’s ostinatos, harmonics, functional harmony and opera elements too, because of the opera scenes in the movie. The opera scenes being performed by Rovigo Conservatorie Students: from Gluck’s Orfeo and from Puccini’s Turandot these scenes being directed by Anna Cuocolo.

Composer Michele Catania who is one of the contributors on the score and composed the Love Theme and the Main song for the movie, said “My theme is linked to Italian melody, but it is written in 6/4 to recreate the expanded time of memories, and the strings often are covering the voice: the maximum level of affection in the song is representing the maximum damage of the Illness”.

Come la musica (M. Catania)

Italian Lyrics

Se I miei ricordi sono qui

E

La mia realtà ormai fugge via

 Se

Quando ti scrivo Tu torni ancora qui davanti alle mie mani Il tempo scappa via E ti allontana più da me

 Se

 Il miei dolori sono qui Ma Io non li afferro perché so

Che

Come la musica Mi sfuggon via Non riesco a farli miei Ma sono dentro me Come te che resti qui Con me.

Temporary English version.

I see my memories that flow Through My mind that returns back again, And When I am writing To you I’m feeling as if You’re in front of my hands. My time is running out And brings you too far from my brain. If All of my damages are here, But I am not bringin’ anymore And It’s like the music does. They run away I can’t make them myself My pains are still in me As if you were staying here With me. 

The song Come la Musica is performed on the soundtrack by vocalist Sara D’Arielli, accompanied by Claudia Lapolla on violin and Alessia Bruno on cello, the conductor for this piece is Stefano Celeghin, who was one of three conductors involved with the score the other two being André Bellmont and Yati Durant. The vocal version of the piece is also presented in instrumental form which is breath-taking, the violin and cello soaring and intertwining to realise a sound and emotion that is consuming and passionate.  It’s an interesting fact that this is the film score to be produced by a Conservatoire which included the music, sound design and internal music such as the Opera’s all under the supervision of Marco Biscarini. It is such a polished and effectual work I hope it is not the last.

This is a heart wrenchingly alluring score, a bittersweet and tantalising listen, that will stay with you forever. Composers who collaborated on the score for the movie include, Dino Viceconte, Giuliano Romagnesi, Davide Tura, Luca Brembilla, Rodolfo Matulich, Federico Ciompi, Alessio Pasquale, Biagio Mauro Mariano and Michele Catania.

With Adriano Aponte contributing to the score in his own right and being the main credited composer on the movie. It is a great achievement for a score such as this to be partly composed and produced by members of a Conservatoire collectively, and I recommend it without reservation.

There is so much within this score it literally oozes emotions and has to it wide variety of colours and textures that go to make up a stunning piece of movie music.

 If you miss out on this wonderful soundtrack you will be poorer for doing so. The score is available via Soul Trade music on digital platforms, please check it out. Mention must also be made of the audio department, that recorded and mixed the music, Antonio Ministeri orchestra manager, Francesco Petronelli orchestra supervisor and Daniele Ceciliot who recorded and mixed the Vincenzo Cavalli mix for Tema lirico that will be released very soon. Highly recommended.

BABYLON.

Babylon is a movie that has certainly caused a stir and has been nominated in many categories at the up-and-coming Oscars, which is rather ironic as it’s a film about the overblown egos of Hollywood. It follows the career of one Manny Torres, an aspiring filmmaker from Mexico who meets up with fellow aspiring starlet Nelly LaRoy at a Bacchanalian party in 1920s Los Angeles.

The film also focuses upon several other characters who are at the same party, these include movie star Jack Conrad, cabaret performer Fay Zhu, journalist Elinor St. John, and a musician Sidney Palmer. It follows them as they rise and inevitably fall in their careers in a time period that spans the demise of silent films and the revolution that was to be known as the talkie. Each of these individuals’ cross paths throughout the movie as they navigate the unpredictable business of Hollywood.

The movie has an impressive and memorable opening scene with a wild an party sequence that is more like a full on orgy that perfectly encapsulates the mad and devil may care spirit of roaring twenties Hollywood. It sets a visual high  that is not going to be easy to rise above, even though I have to say there are  there are a number of fantastic sequences throughout the film that do come very close. This party sequence where each of the characters are introduced/first intervene is, without a doubt key to remainder of the movie and is the highlight of the film.

Director Damien Chazelle bars no holds and does not soften any punches in this full-on tale of decadence, unrestrained behavior and sleazy yet mesmerizing goings on. It’s like the opposite of the directors La La Land, being dark, licentious, way overboard and unrestrained rather than over the top cheesy and sugary.  It indulges in the extreme and comes out the other side even more outrageous, having to it a glittery and tinsel town persona, but with an underlying mood that oozes with scandalous at times offensive content.

At times I was reminded of The Day of the Locust and to a certain extent the more recent version of The Great Gatsby. It’s an impressive first hour or so, but after this I felt the director lost sight of where he wanted to go with the storyline, with sections of the script being surplus to requirement to be totally honest.

Composer Justin Hurwitz re-unites with director Chazelle to provide the movie with a wonderfully upbeat and thematic score. Providing foot tapping dance numbers that to be honest would go down a storm on contemporary dance floors in the many night clubs around the world.

The music at times contains little nods back to the composer’s score for La La Land, that shine through momentarily supporting, enhancing, underlining, punctuating, and becoming part of the scenarios on screen as well as being an extension of the characters. Hurwitz is in my mind a genius and can turn his hand and adapt his style to most genres, in this case his musical mind delivers flashes and glimpses that can only be described as brilliant.

The photography is excellent, and the costumes are superb, with a storyline that is for the most part just as compelling. The score, which is built on a fairly simple but effective eight note core theme adds much to the proceedings, and I can understand why it has been nominated for best score at the Oscars.

Justin Hurwitz.

The composer employs saxophone, jazz sounds, big band passages, risqué and sexy sounding vocals and unusual but at the same time gorgeous melodies. With the occasional Golden age sounding sumptuous compositions such as Gold Coast Sunset, entering the musical arena with lush strings, tantalizing brass and thundering percussion sounding like Max Steiner or Erich Wolfgang Korngold.  There is also a rendition of Singing in the Rain, which I suppose is a homage to the Hollywood musical as we of a certain age remember it, and Singing in the Rain the movie as that too was about the face of Hollywood that we don’t often see (but told in a simpler and more innocent fashion).

The score for Babylon is a delight to listen to, from beginning to end it is a rollercoaster ride of sounds, styles, and highly inventive and affecting musical fare. In fact, I listened to it I think four times on loop and each time found something fresh.  It is just intoxicating to the point of the obsessive.  Upbeat, infectious, and just so good. Recommended…………

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