Film Score Friday: ‘The Artist’ By Ludovic Bource

The third score from this year’s Golden Globe nominated set that I have the pleasure to review is from The Artist. The film is an interesting one, a silent film shot in black and white, set during Hollywood’s golden age. The film goes through great lengths to simulate the style of films the movie is about, and one of it’s biggest assets is it’s score.

Musically this could have come right out of the late 20s, it has a timeless quality, that allows it to feel fresh at the same time it transports you back to film music of a long passed era. Silent films used to rely heavily on music to help convey emotion, and as a result the music would often tell you as much of a story as the pictures did. It is exciting to hear that style of music in cinema again.

There is also a tremendous positivity abound in the music. Ludovic Bource has crafted a musical composition that damn near forces you to smile. One of the things that we too often hear these days is dark, monotone notes played for a mildly uncomfortable effect. This score excels at the exact opposite, and is incredibly fun.

One of the things I noticed right of the bat with The Artist is how it captures the essence of the classics while maintaining something of a modern sound. I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what that mean until I came across one of the more fun tracks on the album, “Jubilee Stomp”. A jazzy, very old school song that sounds like somethign you would hear walking the streets of Paris in 1929. It not only had an old time sound, but it had an classic sensibility to it as well, which really hammered home what Bource was doing in the rest of the score.

Music does all the speaking in a silent film, and by shooting a movie in black and white with out sound you limit what you can say. Of course the story is well portrayed, but there is a connection to the audience that you lose when you present a film so far from the common accepted standards of the era. This is over come by what a fantastic job the music does. The connection with the audience is the music, and it’s classic stylings have just enough of a modern feel to provide the audience with the appropriate perspective to truly enjoy the movie.

This is one of the most inviting scores I have heard in a long time. It just grips you and brings you into a world you never expected to get swept away to. I sincerely hope this score is proof that the sensibilities of a bygone era can be captured today in exciting new ways.

Three Favorite Tracks:

1927 A Russian Affair by Ludovic Bource – This is the track that wowed me. The track that slapped my across the face and forced me to love this music. This is not just good period appropriate action music, this is just great any time action music. It actually reminds me of some of the better pieces of action music written by Shirley Walker on the Batman: The Animated Series scores, and any one who is familiar with those works understands the high praise I just placed on this track.

George Valentin by Ludovic Bource – I didn’t like the idea of putting two of the first three tracks in my three favorite. It makes the whole thing feel top heavy, but let me assure you it is not. The whole album is great. I went with “George Valentin” as my second favorite track because of it’s pure sense of fun. This music forces a smile and a healthy bob of the head. I envision slapstick kings throwing themselves around while finger magicians worked their magic on the ivories. This is probably the one track I would play for others to demonstrate how great this music is. Classic yet fresh, a tremendous combination.

Peppy And George by Ludovic Bource – Nothing closes out a brilliant film score like a party for the last track. This music is pure 20s/30s glee, not trying to do anything other than make you want to get up and dance. I can’t imagine hearing this in a  theater and not finding myself dancing in the halls. Then as the track has you shaking as  hard as your body allows you it transitions into a slightly more complex finale that puts a perfect capper on one of the best scores of the year.

Least Favorite Track:

I wont do it, I will not call a single one of these tracks out as a least favorite. It might be a cop out, it might be unfair to the other 5 out of 5 scores I reviewed and will review in the future, but it is the right thing to do. If there was one thing I could say to the negative of this score it would be a lack of marquee, cornerstone theme to define the movie, but this score didn’t need that. There are a couple tracks that might have competed for this spot, but every time I listen to any of them I find my self smiling. I like all of the tracks on this sound track and it would be a failure on my part to manufacture a flaw to fit a structure.

In the end, The Artist is making a very real attempt to win me over as favorite of the year. I had a tremendous time listening to it, and look forward to sharing it with many people who have lost hope in the quality of the modern film score. After giving three of the five nominated scores a whirl, I can honestly say this one deserves to win. It is that good.

Final Score for The Artist:

5 out of 5

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    February 29, 2012 at 6:49 pm

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