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.