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The Artist
Composed, Co-Orchestrated, and Co-Produced by:
Ludovic Bource

Conducted by:
Ernst Van Tiel

Co-Orchestrated by:
Jay-Alan Miller
Jean Gobinet
Michel Ange Merino
Vincent Artaud
Didier Goret
Vladimir Nikolov
Pierrick Poirier
Frederic Dunis
Albert Guinovart

Performed by:
The Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra of Flanders

Co-Produced by:
Jerome Lateur

Sony Classical

Release Date:
November 21st, 2011

Also See:
My Week With Marilyn

Audio Clips:
1. The Artist Ouverture (0:30):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

3. George Valentin (0:31):
WMA (204K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

19. L'Ombre des Flammes (0:30):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

23. My Suicide (0:29):
WMA (191K)  MP3 (239K)
Real Audio (168K)

Regular U.S. release.

  Winner of an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, and a BAFTA Award. Nominated for a Grammy Award.

The Artist
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Buy it... if you remain loyal to the emotionally extroverted and optimistically romantic tone of early Golden Age film music, a genre resurrected with impressive attention to detail for this silent film.

Avoid it... if there is too fine a line between tribute and parody for a score like this to succeed for ears that are too accustomed to the subtlety and weight of more recent orchestral techniques for film scores.

The Artist: (Ludovic Bource) French director Michel Hazanavicius had always dreamed of making a silent, black and white movie about the transition to "talkies" in Hollywood's early days, and after a pair of moderately successful spy movies in the 2000's, he was afforded the opportunity to write and direct The Artist in 2011. The French film, adorned with English intertitles but otherwise without dialogue, tells of the relationship between an aging male star of silent films and a younger actress destined for greatness in cinema's next phase. Its 1927 setting in Hollywood allowed Hazanavicius to not only explore a compelling love story, but also make a commentary about the history of this era of cinema, all through the lens of techniques applicable to that period. The two leads of The Artist carry over from the director's collaborations in his prior spy films, though the 2011 movie also casts a handful of more familiar character actors in supporting roles. After surprising viewers at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, the film was distributed by Warner Brothers and The Weinstein Company internationally for wider audiences, yielding tremendous receptions from reviewers and arthouse viewers. As expected, the unique nature of the film led to countless nominations from independent awards bodies, catapulting the movie into contention for America's major awards at the end of the year. Among the features of The Artist recognized by these groups is Ludovic Bource's original score, a dominant force in the film because of its placement alone in the audio mix. When sentimental music from yesteryear is allowed to carry heartbreaking scenes by itself, as witnessed in Michael Giacchino's Up a couple of year prior, the affinity factor for that soundtrack is difficult to ignore for awards voters. The task of writing an early Golden Age-style score for The Artist presented an immense challenge for Bource, however. The French composer was a relative unknown at the time of this film's debut, best recognized for his collaboration with Hazanavicius on his previous endeavors. Bource admitted to being a bit overwhelmed by the project at first, for his role in The Artist required him to purely emulate the style of soundtracks heard in silent movies of the era without simply creating a cheap parody of them. Without a substantial base of orchestral knowledge, Bource spent a significant amount of time with Hazanavicius studying both the music of Golden Age composing legends and the prior classical composers who had in part inspired them. He laboriously wrote and re-wrote passages to quote the mannerisms and demeanor of early film music without directly copying it, essentially forcing himself to write the genuine article nearly 100 years after it originally existed.

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There should be absolutely no doubt in any listener's mind that Bource's achievement for The Artist merits all the praise it deserves. In a technical sense, this is simply a marvelous score. Learned ears will hear references to a myriad of 19th Century classical staples and homage after homage to Franz Waxman, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Max Steiner, and Alfred Newman (as well as the seeds of Bernard Herrmann's trademark suspense tones in the action cues and Maurice Jarre's later work late in "Fantaisie D'Amour"). Lighter passages of prancing rhythmic flair, meanwhile, are reminiscent of Charlie Chaplin, Leigh Harline, and Carl Stalling. During the course of The Artist, Bource seemingly touches upon such a wide spectrum of Golden Age inspirations that the score may play like a compilation of music from the period for casual listeners, though the composer does apply these structures and emphases in performance to a common handling with the Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra of Flanders. The most important element of success in the score is its extroverted and generally optimistic personality; this kind of music was never meant to be subtle, and the composer responds with a tone so emotionally communicative that it may overflow with exuberance to too great of an extent for some listeners. There have been tributes to the Golden Age sound in recent years that were more balanced, but while there is some lament to be heard on piano late in The Artist (and full ensemble poignantly in "The Sound of Tears" and "My Suicide"), the major-key expressions of romance and pomp are clearly the core. The primary theme in The Artist is a quirky, infectious, xylophone-aided tune for the lead male character, heard extensively in the trio of cues starting with "George Valentin" and returning for similar fun in "1931" and beyond. The female lead receives her own bubbly identity in "Waltz For Peppy," a theme that eventually swirls with innocent delight for fuller applications at the climax of the score. The drawbacks of The Artist are precisely its assets, its purpose so clearly a wholesale tribute to the early Golden Age of film music that it's impossible to appreciate it as anything else. Bource and Hazanavicius, who played this genre of music on set to put the actors in the right mood for the shoot, very consciously attempted to avoid creating a parody. The hopelessly chipper attitude of the music will cause the score to sound like a parody to some listeners nevertheless, and if you have misgivings about this sound to begin with, then be aware that The Artist could drive a person mad. Along with a handful of source pieces on the very long album, the score will predictably expose generational divides and likely have difficulty earning more than intellectual respect from those solely accustomed to the Digital Age of film music. **** Price Hunt: CD or Download

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 3.52 Stars
Smart Average: 3.43 Stars*
***** 74 
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*** 47 
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 Track Listings: Total Time: 77:45

• 1. The Artist Ouverture (1:02)
• 2. 1927 A Russian Affair (3:36)
• 3. George Valentin (5:36)
• 4. Pretty Peppy (2:33)
• 5. At the Kinograph Studios (1:38)
• 6. Fantaisie d'Amour (3:09)
• 7. Waltz For Peppy (3:22)
• 8. Estancia Op.8 - Danzas del Ballet II: Danza del Trigo - written by Alberto Ginastera (3:41)
• 9. Imagination - performed by Red Nichols and His Five Pennies (2:56)
• 10. Silent Rumble (1:16)
• 11. 1929 (1:33)
• 12. In the Stairs (3:15)
• 13. Jubilee Stomp - performed by Duke Ellington (2:35)
• 14. Comme Une Rosee de Larmes (3:24)
• 15. The Sound of Tears (4:48)
• 16. Pennies From Heaven - performed by Rose Murphy (2:14)
• 17. 1931 (4:47)
• 18. Jungle Bar (2:07)
• 19. L'Ombre des Flammes (5:58)
• 20. Happy Ending... (5:44)
• 21. Charming Blackmail (2:13)
• 22. Ghost From the Past (2:00)
• 23. My Suicide (6:25)
• 24. Peppy and George - performed by The Brussels Jazz Orchestra (2:06)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert includes a list of performers and an interview with the composer (in English and French).

  All artwork and sound clips from The Artist are Copyright © 2011, Sony Classical. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 12/14/11 (and not updated significantly since). Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2011-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.