SIMON AND THE OAKS is a stunning and epic tale that spans the years of the Second World War and also beyond into the early part of the 1950,s. The story concentrates on Simon a young boy who is brought up within the circle of a loving and caring family in Gothenburg. But he is troubled and confused as he always feels he is out of place and with a family that are very different from him (he later discovers he is adopted). He decides to study and gain knowledge, which is something that his parents are not keen on because they fear he will become aloof and forget his family. After much persuasion Simon’s Father gives in and sends his son to a grammar school which is attended by upper class pupils. It is here that Simon meets Isak who is the son of a wealthy Jewish bookseller, Isak and his family have fled from the persecution of the Nazi’s. Simon befriends the young Jew and is mesmerised by his Fathers collection of books and art and it is then that Simon decides he wants to find out more about his own background. Isak however starts to become interested in working manually and creating things with his hands and begins to assist Simons Father in the building of boats. When Isak has trouble at home he turns to Simon’s family who take him in and as the war escalates and rips Europe apart the two families come closer together integrating and connecting in unusual ways. Set against the backdrop of a brutal war SIMON AND THE OAKS is a gripping and intense tale, with solid and credible performances, the movie explores and lays bare the contrasts of the personal and the political, love and hate, destiny and fate and also attempts to show the watching audience that maybe a broken heart can be repaired and also that it needs to be. The musical score for SIMON AND THE OAKS is the work of composer Annette Focks, who was born in 1964 in Lower Saxony, Germany. She has worked on over 60 film and television scores and been nominated a handful of times and also won awards for her music. The score for Simon and the Oaks is as you can well imagine an emotive one, the composer selecting solo violin as the principal instrument of the score, its haunting and eloquent performances underlining the Jewish themes within the movie and also bringing to the surface a heartfelt and melancholy ambience. The composers moving and mesmerizing thematic properties enhancing and elevating the poignancy, drama and fragility of the storyline, plus also relaying to the listener and watching audience the inner turmoil that Simon is experiencing. The score which is for the majority of its duration fully symphonic is a powerful one and also one that begs to be returned to after one’s initial listen.
The composer employs solo piano on occasion to purvey a rich but at the same time heart breaking and solitary sound as in tracks number 20, KARIN COMES HOME, 21, IZA and track 25 LOVE to single out but three. Woodwind is also utilized to great effect throughout the work enhancing and supporting economically but effectively, with underlying strings augmenting and themselves supporting. I was reminded of the style of composer John Barry on a few occasions whilst listening to the score, delicate woodwind and subtle strings creating lamenting moods and also romantic and haunting moments, which are highly affecting but also understated.Special mention must also be made of the magnificent and totally mesmerizing violin playing of Max Wulfson.
This is a soundtrack that would enrich any film music collection and it is also a score that one will return to on numerous occasions and on each outing you will find something fresh and vibrant. Recommended…
Alhambra records Germany cat number. A 9009.