FRANTZ is an anti-war movie, but also contains a bitter sweet story of love and romance. It is set in 1919 just after the first world war and we see a young German girl who is visiting the grave of her fiancée in France who was killed during the war. Whilst there she notices a young Frenchman who is also visiting the grave, it emerges that he is an old friend of her Fiancée’s and became friends with him when he studied in France before the war, but as the story unfolds we see little things that tell us that this is not entirely the whole truth. Much respected and acclaimed French director Francois Ozon seems to have poured his heart and soul into this movie creating a stylish and elegant motion picture which is shot in black and white which adds to the authenticity and atmosphere considering the period in which it is set. The film which is in German and French also purveys a message, which is one that basically calls for us to reject the prejudice and the racism that we are experiencing now everywhere in the world. There are no side tracking subplots or gimmicky inputs aside from the use of colour photography at a few key points within the story, which normally occur at times of happiness or within different periods of the character’s life. The music is by Philippe Rombi and as soon as you see his name on the credits one knows you are in for a treat no matter what the genre or subject matter. Although Rombi is revered amongst collectors of film music he at times is still sadly overlooked, he has composed some of the most thematic scores for cinema during the past two decades. My first encounter with this French Maestro was when I brought a copy of SWIMMING POOL which was also directed by Ozon and starred Charlotte Rampling. After this I have never looked back and have at every opportunity added his releases to my collection even if I have not seen the movie or heard the score and I have to say have never once been disappointed. FRANTZ contains a rather subdued and melancholy soundtrack, the composer employing solo piano and solo string instruments during its running time. The opening cue which is track number two, UNE AMITIE is a short but certainly sweet and beguiling piece with piano and cello combining to create a sombre but at the same time melodious cue which sets the scene perfectly. Track number three LA PROMENADE is a slightly fuller piece although is also short lived it has a warm and rich sound created by the string section which introduce a near luxurious but apprehensive theme to the listener for the first time.
This theme is carried through to the next track, LA LECON DE VIOLON as it opens being picked out on piano that is underlined by strings. Track number five, LES TORMENTS also contains hints of this theme and is a slow builder but does not segue into a melodic theme instead it changes direction with cello being brought into the equation, and strings fading in and out in a Barry-esque fashion to fashion a more threatening mood. Track number eight is I must say one of my favourite cues from the score, a slow and understated piano solo opens the piece and after a short while is joined by cello with punctuates and underlines the piano creating a sad and heartrending performance. This is a score that must be heard to be believed it is filled with emotive and poignant tone poems that will enchant and delight. Rombi like wine improves with age and FRANTZ is a score of the finest vintage. Highly recommended.
Cezanne et moi, is a movie that is a little disjointed in my opinion and although it looks stunning because of the way in which the outside scenes are photographed there is just something missing from it to make it attention grabbing and absorbing, maybe it is me but I would have preferred to watch the movie with no dialogue and just have the sound effects and musical score playing whilst I viewed it as the dialogue just seemed to get in the way, not sure if that makes any sense but hey this is just a personal opinion. The movie begins with an imaginary meeting between two of France’s most notable 19th Century cultural figures the painter Cezanne and the writer Emile Zola, director/writer Daniele Thompson’s period drama stars Guillaume Canet and Guillaume Gallienne as the artist and writer respectively in the leading roles. Set between the year 1888, when the near 50-year-old Cezanne challenges Zola about his novel L’Oeuvre whose main character seemed to be based upon Cezanne or so he thinks. The story is told via several flashbacks which inform us of how the pair first became friends at school in Aix en Provence and went on to be like minded about art and shared the same liking of women. Daniele Thompson’s script keeps things moving along quite briskly whilst focusing upon the differences between the two characters. Zola, for example being born into poverty and longing to become a writer and after doing so eventually joins the rich and the upper class ranks which he used to ridicule in his younger days and Cezanne, who was born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth who eventually ends up rejecting that society to concentrate on his painting, which was sadly ignored by that same collective of people until his life was nearly over. I think as well as the cinematography which I have said is astounding and breath taking, the musical score stands out and serves the movie more than adequately. The music is by Eric Neveux and the composer has created a soundtrack that is not only highly melodic and beautifully emotive but he has fashioned one that has to it a life away from the images on screen, it is one of those rare moments in film music where the music can be listened to and enjoyed as an entity of its own, its persona and strong thematic content shining through in every piece, this is an elegant and passionately poignant score a delicate and haunting work which relies upon a romantic and emotional style that seems to invade one’s mind and linger. The composer utilises strings and several solo performances throughout to create a lilting and attractive work that I must say I have returned to on many occasions after the initial listen.
The light and fragile use of piano brings a sense of the romantic to the surface of this score and this element underlined by subdued and melancholy sounding strings, smooth and passive woods and guitar at certain points within the score bring out a sound and a style that is heartrending and affecting. The composer has given us lucky film music collectors a score that is at times impressionistic, richly melodic, deeply emotive and wonderfully symphonic. I don’t like to highlight certain cues within scores as being stand out or more attractive than others, and with this soundtrack I don’t think I can actually do that. Why I hear you say, well because each cue is simply beautiful and is a gratifying and rewarding listen. To say that you must add this to your collection is an understatement. So please just go buy it, no questions…
Available on Quartet records (Spain)
Cézanne et Moi – Ouverture (02:33)
Souvenirs d’enfance (01:30)
Paris sous la pluie (01:16)
Émile & Gabrielle (02:39)
La lettre d’Émile (04:03)
Ballade des deux amis (02:07)
La souffrance de Paul (04:54)
La fin d’une amitié (01:31)
Paul s’en va (06:26)
Cézanne et Moi – Générique de fin (01:39)