Album: A Very Long Engagement: Original Soundtrack

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Album:

A Very Long Engagement: Original Soundtrack

Artist: Angelo Badalamenti
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Label: Nonesuch

Employing the stunning, kinetic visual sense that made his reputation via Delicatessen, City of Lost Children and Amelie, French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet turned Sebastien Japrisot’s compelling World War I novel into the biggest budgeted film ever produced in his home country. To musically season his often downbeat epic, Jeunet again utilizes Lost Children’s composer, Angelo Badalamenti, and the American rises to the occasion with a brooding score that evokes dignified melancholy at every turn. While its shadowy introspection and…

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Employing the stunning, kinetic visual sense that made his reputation via Delicatessen, City of Lost Children and Amelie, French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet turned Sebastien Japrisot’s compelling World War I novel into the biggest budgeted film ever produced in his home country. To musically season his often downbeat epic, Jeunet again utilizes Lost Children’s composer, Angelo Badalamenti, and the American rises to the occasion with a brooding score that evokes dignified melancholy at every turn. While its shadowy introspection and brief passages of electronica only distantly recall Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks and his other collaborations with David Lynch, his work here is utterly devoid of their often pop-ironic kitsch. Instead, writing in the powerful, modernist milieu of Herrmann and Howard Shore, Badalamenti’s score turns repeatedly on a brief, mournful phrase for muted brass, a five-note motif that serves as the emotional anchor for one of the composer’s most elegant exercises in orchestral understatement. —Jerry McCulley

A treat here for connoisseurs of Angelo Badalamenti, and for anyone with a passing interest in film scores, A Very Long Engagement will serve to add to the legacy of Badalamenti’s impeccable credentials. The soundtrack to the World War One period film from Amelie director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, this piece is an example of exactly how to score a film shrouded in death, confusion and humanity. Unlike the loathsome bombast that, say, a Danny Elfman score would have provided, Badalamenti simply makes the most of minor key themes, arranged for an elegant but eerie, beautifully played orchestra. Anyone familiar with his work on David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive will find it familiarly excellent. However where that score was full of apocalyptic climaxes, “A Very Long Engagement” remains rooted in quiet, albeit menacing territory. Only in the End Titles does the music slip into something approaching Hollywood schmaltz, but even then it is kept in check by some very effective refrains that tether the piece to its mysterious foundation. Perhaps too mournful to be played casually and regularly, this is still an effective accompaniment to a film about the human side of war, and in its aims, is highly enjoyable and successful.—Thom Allott

Related Works

Book:A Very Long Engagement: A Novel

A Very Long Engagement: A Novel

Sebastien Japrisot, Linda Coverdale

Set during and after the First World War, A Very Long Engagement tells the story of a young woman’s search for her fiancé, whom she believes might still be alive despite having officially been reported as “killed in the line of duty.” Unable to walk since childhood, fearless Mathilde Donnay is undeterred in her quest as she scours the country for information about five wounded French soldiers who were brutally abandoned by their own troops. A Very Long Engagement is a mystery, a love story, and an extraordinary portrait of life in France before and after the War.

Film:A Very Long Engagement

A Very Long Engagement

Jean-Pierre Jeunet

The film is set in France near the end of World War I in the deadly trenches of the Somme, in the gilded Parisien halls of power, and in the modest home of an indomitable provincial girl. It tells the story of this young woman’s relentless, moving and sometimes comic search for her fiancé, who has disappeared. He is one of five French soldiers believed to have been court-martialed under mysterious circumstances and pushed out of an allied trench into an almost-certain death in no-man’s land. What follows is an investigation into the arbitrary nature of secrecy, the absurdity of war, and the enduring passion, intuition and tenacity of the human heart.

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