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Novak angered by ‘Vertigo’ music in ‘Artist’

Helmer cries out homage, actress says it's 'rape'

Helmer Michel Hazanavicius, Academy honchos and others weighed in Monday on the use of “Vertigo” music in “The Artist,” after Kim Novak decried the excerpt as “rape” in a full-page ad in Variety.

Acad music-branch governor Bruce Broughton said the use of the Herrmann music was discussed when the branch executive committee considered eligibility issues for “The Artist” and decided that it wasn’t enough to disqualify the entire score — some 80 or so minutes of original Ludovic Bource music.

Hazanavicius issued a statement saying: “‘The Artist’ was made as a love letter to cinema, and grew out of my (and all my cast and crew’s) admiration and respect for movies throughout history. It was inspired by the work of Hitchcock, Lang, Ford, Lubitsch, Murnau and Wilder. I love Bernard Herrmann and his music has been used in many different films; I’m very pleased to have it in mine. I respect Kim Novak greatly and I’m sorry to hear she disagrees.”

Popular on Variety

Novak told Variety on Monday: “Someone’s got to speak out. The music (of ‘Vertigo’) is totally tied in with the storyline. You just can’t separate it. It’s like buying the frame and leaving the painting.”

The love-scene music from the 1958 Alfred Hitchcock film was used as a “temp track” — temporary music used during editing — composer Bource confirmed. He wrote his own music for that scene but, he said, Hazanavicius and producer Thomas Langmann chose to stick with the temp music. (Bource’s own version is on the soundtrack album.)

The six minutes and 20 seconds of Herrmann’s score for “Vertigo,” which starred Novak and James Stewart, plays during a scene late in “Artist” when despondent George (Jean Dujardin) considers suicide while his friend Peppy (Berenice Bejo) races across town to stop him.

The controversy has highlighted the growing use of directors simply licensing their temp music instead of applying original music to their films. Kubrick kept his entire temp score in “2001: A Space Odyssey,” Oliver Stone preferred his “Adagio for Strings” temp to Georges Delerue’s original score in “Platoon” and, more recently, Terrence Malick discarded considerable James Horner and Alexandre Desplat music for “The New World” and “The Tree of Life” in favor of classical excerpts.

In the ad, which stirred plenty of buzz on the Internet, Novak said: “I feel as if my body — or at least my body of work — has been violated by the movie, ‘The Artist.’ They didn’t need to use what I consider to be one of the most important love scenes in motion picture history by playing the ‘Vertigo’ score and using the emotions it engenders as if it were their own.”

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