Blood on the Crown or to give the film its original title Just Noise, is a 2021 production that tells of the valiant and desperate fight that the people of Malta put up to gain independence from the British in 1919.A process which was sadly not successful at the time but is something that should be related to the many who are not aware of what happened. It began when the people began to start protesting over the price of bread and took to the streets to let their feelings be known, a date that is etched in the history of Malta is June 7th, which is a date when things began to become more unsettled on the island. Blood on the Crown is in no way the average war movie and it tells the story of those days in 1919 plainly and truthfully. It is a movie that focuses upon the facts and also the brutality of the British against the people of Malta, who’s fight for independence began just after the first world war, which was a time when Britain were keen to hang onto as many territories that they deemed to be part of their Empire, it was a time of change in the world and after the devastating great war in Europe, countries such as Britain, France and Germany were desperate to remain in control of what they saw as their countries. The story displays that the British stop short of nothing to maintain their grip upon Malta, which led to acts of brutal and unnecessary violence against people who wanted their freedom to live their own lives.
Directed by Davide Ferrario, the movie stars Harvey Keital and Malcolm McDowell who both give admirable performances. The cast also includes many Maltese actors who also give their all in this tale of the tyranny and savagery employed by the pompous British Empire towards ordinary people who simply wanted the right to govern their own country. The film is a remarkable production that is beautifully filmed and one that successfully opens the silenced pages of history, and clearly shows the British for what they truly were, cruel, undermining and controlling. It’s a movie that makes me ashamed to be British and shows how much the overbearing Empire of Great Britain were despised not just in Malta but throughout the world because of their draconian rules and their oppression towards human beings.
It’s like the audience are given a window into these blatant acts of violence and downright cowardice by the British as they are attempting to quell the spirit and resolve of the Maltese, but it was this attitude and these cruel acts that also increased that resolve and heightened their determination to gain their freedom.
I think it is a movie that asks the question “How far would you go to stop others being free”? Obviously, the British at this time thought that there was no limit in the way that they could crush the Maltese fight for independence. The movie is filled with at times shocking scenes of children and women being shot down by British soldiers, but also at last allows the truth to be known from this ignored period in history.
The music for the movie is the work of composer Laurent Eyquem, who has fashioned a score that enhances and punctuates the action on screen and provides an emotive and at times understated accompaniment for the unfolding storyline and its characters. The composer performed the piano sections on the score and utilized performers from around the world that were recorded remotely because it was at the height of the covid pandemic.
”I had performers from Russia and the US, sadly no credits can be provided because of certain restrictions, so the orchestra is hybrid, with about fifteen players and synth to provide the effect of having a larger orchestra”. The composer told me.
The score is wonderfully thematic, the composer creating haunting and appealing compositions throughout. It is one of the best scores from the end of a year that has been difficult and like a breath of fresh musical air for any film music fan. There is a richness and deeply emotional style to the music, the composer applying ethnic sounding instrumentation at times for greater effect. The sound of bouzouki creeping into the proceedings at various stages, but its not the bouzouki as we hear it in older scores such as Topkapi, or Zorba which is bouncy and joyous. This time it has to it a sound that is both dramatic, and apprehensive, at times veering into the domain of the sinister and harsh. The accordion too is rather somber sounding, filled with a mod that oozes melancholy. There are also some atmospheric and gentle guitar solo performances throughout, the composer combining these with the accordion and a lilting and heartfelt violin solo.
A dark mood is purveyed at times with the composer employing low key strings which he from time to time invigorates with strummed bouzouki. A solo female soprano is used effectively, and for me becomes one of the high points of the score, this along with a highly affecting and melodic piano led theme that is enhanced by soft strings and guitar make this a soundtrack worth listening to. But, sadly at this moment in time there is no recording available but let’s hope that this will change soon. A great score filled with a sense of the romantic, that also has feelings of desperation and determination embedded within its makeup, and one that should be released.