×

Silence is golden for ‘Artist’s’ maestro

Eye on the Oscars 2011: Music Preview

There’s retro, and then there’s “The Artist.” Shot in B&W, with little dialogue, the French period piece about a ’20 silent film star whose career collapses with the advent of talkies was predictably a crowd-pleaser and critical success at Cannes this year (Jean Dujardin in the title role won lead actor). And given the unusual and surprising visual choices made by writer-director Michel Hazanavicius, much of the film’s success rests with its lush orchestral score composed by Ludovic Bource, a score also tasked with driving forward a story that is devoid of dialogue.

But Bource, who’s scored all four of the director’s films since 1999’s “Mes amis,” says he wasn’t surprised when Hazanavicius asked him to compose for a silent film. “We first talked about doing this 10 years or so ago — but I was surprised at just how moving and romantic it is,” he recalls. “It’s really his tribute to the great silent movies and directors like Fritz Lang and Hitchcock, and the old movie-making ways of Hollywood.”

While the film, which was shot on location in L.A., is set in the late ’20s and early ’30s, the composer and director took their inspiration from a much wider era. “We listened to a lot of different people, from Max Steiner and Charlie Chaplin to Bernard Hermann and Franz Waxman, as well as going back to all the great 19th century romantic composers like Brahms,” Bource says. One interlude in the movie is adapted directly from Hermann.

Soaking in all the Hollywood and classical greats helped the composer grapple with the main challenge — “finding a good main theme that would help tell the story for the audience.” It wasn’t easy, admits Bource, who recorded the score in Brussels with 80 musicians from the Flanders Philharmonic. “I’m not trained in symphonic music, so it was a big education for me.”

Bource wasn’t on the set, but immersed himself in dailies, “so I could be inspired by the images, and then I’d write motifs and ideas, and keep some and leave others.” As usual, the pair worked closely during editing: “Michel was always changing the cues,” Bource says. “One week we’d have a block of sequences eight minutes long, a week later he’d tell me he’d just cut three minutes out. We were always refining.”

Eye on the Oscars 2011: Music Preview:

Silence is golden for ‘Artist’s’ maestro | Jonsi’s music animates Crowe’s ‘Zoo’ | From the Bard to Bean without missing a beat | Shoring up ‘Hugo’s’ ode to Melies | Spielberg and Williams duet for 25th time | Desplat’s impossible pace propelled into higher gear | Pix pulsate with driving electronica

More Film

  • Promise at Dawn Calcoa

    Colcoa French Film Festival Moves to the Fall with Revamped Formula

    Colcoa, the Los Angeles-based French film festival, will be hosting its 23rd edition in September, right before the start of the Awards season. Created by the Franco-American Cultural Fund, Colcoa will also be showcasing a more contained lineup focused on film and TV at the Directors Guild of America’s newly-renovated venue. The festival was previously [...]

  • Bruce Springsteen FYSEE Opening Night with

    Bruce Springsteen-Codirected 'Western Stars' Film Will Premiere in Toronto

    “Western Stars,” the film that Bruce Springsteen has made to accompany his recent album of the same name, will have its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, it was announced Tuesday. The feature is being listed as a co-directing project between Springsteen and his longtime filmic collaborator, Thom Zimny, who just picked up [...]

  • Sylvester Stallone and Braden Aftergood Balboa

    Sylvester Stallone's Production Company Wants to Be the Blumhouse of Action Films

    “I don’t believe Sylvester Stallone carries around a wallet,” says Braden Aftergood, the executive in charge of scripted development at the movie star’s content company Balboa Prods. It’s not that Sly, as he’s known to friends and fans alike, is trying to duck out on a dinner bill. He never seems to have his license [...]

  • Toronto Film Festival Lineup

    Toronto Film Festival: 'Joker,' 'Ford v Ferrari,' 'Hustlers' Among Big Premieres

    This year’s Toronto Film Festival will feature super-villain origin stories, splashy literary adaptations, and Tom Hanks as the most beloved performer in children’s television. The Canadian celebration of all things movies unveiled its 2019 lineup on Tuesday, and it appears to be an eclectic mixture of glossy awards bait, auteur-driven indies, and populist crowd-pleasers. It’s [...]

  • Sylvester Stallone Variety Cover story

    Sylvester Stallone Feels Robbed of an Ownership Stake in 'Rocky': 'I Was Furious'

    Sylvester Stallone shares an uncanny, symbiotic connection with Rocky, the underdog boxer character he created four decades ago — a kindred spirit who served as his creative muse in spawning one of Hollywood’s most successful film franchises. In his long career Stallone also played another memorable screen role — John Rambo — but Rocky was [...]

  • Beware of Children

    First Trailer Released for Venice Days Entry 'Beware of Children' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Variety has been given exclusive access to the first trailer for Dag Johan Haugeruds’ politically and socially charged drama “Beware of Children,” which premieres as part of the Venice Film Festival’s Venice Days section. The pic, which is being sold at Venice by Picture Tree Intl., features the dramatic aftermath of a tragic incident in [...]

  • The Tower animated film about Palestinians

    ‘The Tower’ Animation Wins Japan's Skip City Festival

    “The Tower,” Mats Grorud’s animation about the plight of the Palestinians, as viewed through the eyes of an 11-year-old girl in Beirut, won the grand prize in the international competition at the 16th edition of Skip City International D-Cinema Festival. The film also scooped the section’s audience award. The Skip City festival, which launched in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content