The Artist: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (a J!-ENT World Groove Album Review)

November 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

A wonderful soundtrack that compliments Michel Hazanavicius’ “The Artist”.  Composer Ludovic Bource did a magnificent job in having a music that compliments the film but also an amazing step up for his music since his “OSS 117” film years.   Also, includes wonderful tracks from Duke Ellington, Red Nichols & His Five Pennies and Rose Murphy.   If you loved the music for the film, you will enjoy this soundtrack! Recommended!

TITLE: The Artist: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

LABEL: Sony Music

DURATION: 1:17:45

RELEASE DATE: November 21, 2011

  1. The Artist Ouverture
  2. 1927 a Russian Affair
  3. George Valentin
  4. Pretty Peppy
  5. At the Kinograph Studios
  6. Fantaisie D’Amour
  7. Waltz for Peppy
  8. Estancia OP. 8
  9. Imagination
  10. Silent Rumble
  11. 1929
  12. In the Stairs
  13. Jubilee Stomp (Album Version)
  14. Comme Une Rosée De Larmes
  15. The Sound of Tears
  16. Pennies from Heaven
  17. 1931
  18. Jungle Bar
  19. L’Ombre Des Flammes
  20. Happy Ending…
  21. Charming Blackmail
  22. Ghosts from the Past
  23. My Suicide 03.29.1967
  24. Peppy and George

In 2011, the French film “The Artist” directed by Michel Hazanavicius (“OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies”, “OSS 117: Lost in Rio”) and starring Jean Dujardin (as George Valentin) and Bérénice Bejo (as Peppy Miller) have been catching a lot of buzz since the 2011 Cannes Film Festival (where Dujardin won the “Best Actor Award”).  And with buzz reaching out to other countries including the United States, there also has been talk about the music which was composed by Ludovic Bource, who worked with the director in both “OSS 117” films.

While the film takes place in Hollywood between 1927 and 1932 and revolves around the end of silent cinema as it was replaced by talkies, the film is a silent film, so the music plays an important part of the film.

According to Ludovic Bource, the relationship that he and Hazanvicius had during the making of the film was not saying so much.  If anything, Bource watched the rushes to understand the feeling of the film and builds his music from there.  Prior to making the film, both he and Hazanvicius listened to Chaplin, Max Steiner and Franz Waxman to Bernard Hermann.  They analyzed and listened to the music from the past, including romantic composers from the 19th century.

Bource said in an interview, “We worked – a bit like Chaplin – along the lines of a light sophistication… What was great was being able to work in sequence blocks of 7, 8 or 9 minutes; to be able to reflect on the mood that could be connected to the plot or to a resonance which would be like the characters interior echo, even if there were different sequences within these blocks.”

Part of the challenge that Bource had in creating the music for a silent film was having to edit the music during editing.  Bource said, “we had to reduce certain pieces according to the editing, throw lots of them away, and write new ones, adapt them following each step of the film that was being made.  Michel and I didn’t stop fine-tuning, refining.”

For the soundtrack, Ludovic Bource worked with the Flanders Philharmonic Orchestra in Brussels for a week.  Featuring 80 musicians, 50 string players, four French horns, four trombones, five percussionists, a harpist, ten technicians, five orchestrators and three mixers.

My personal favorites from the soundtrack were “George Valentin”, which was a whimsical track that has a touch of elegance of piano and strings.  While a track such as “Pretty Peppy” and “Fantaisie D’Amour” had strings and horns and would transition from upbeat to elegant to upbeat.  “At the Kinograph Studios” is another song driven by its strings but such a beautiful song that brings out a feeling of romance and happiness.  Also, the carefree feeling of “Jungle Bar”.

But an interesting change as we see the decline of silent film and hearing the music starting to go for upbeat, to something much more melodramatic and with a hint of sadness.  Clearly evident on tracks such as “Comme Une Rosée De Larmes” and “The Sound Of Tears”.  The latter, Bource had said he was inspired by Brahms’ “Sapphic Ode” and a song that fits the film’s image of decline and loneliness of character George Valentin.

The soundtrack of the film gets darker and tracks such as “L’Ombre Des Flammes” is action-driven, “Ghosts From The Past” effectively uses the strings and horns to produce the sound of dread.

While Ludovic Bource created the majority of the music on this soundtrack, also featured are Brussels Philharmonic with “Estancia OP.8”, a surprise for me was hearing Red Nichols & His Five Pennies “Imagination”.  Red Nichols was a popular jazz band in the 1920’s and a wonderful inclusion to this soundtrack.  Also, included are Duke Ellington’s “Jubilee Stomp” (from 1928) and Rose Murphy’s “Pennies from Heaven” (a song that earned her the nickname “The Chee Chee Girl”).

And as appropriate to the soundtrack, one last upbeat swing track from Ludovic Bource titled “Peppy and George”.

The CD booklet features interviews with composer Ludovic Bource in English and French.

Overall, “The Artist: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” was fantastic and amazing step for Ludovic Bource compared to his musical soundtrack for “OSS 117”.  Wonderful music that worked in conjunction with the silent film and its characters and situations.  If you loved the film, you will love the soundtrack.  Recommended!