The Artist

Musical Score By: Ludovic Bource

Distributed by: Sony Music

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            When I was a kid, I would get a kick out of watching silent films featuring Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and more.  It took a great deal of work back then to get the audience to understand what exactly was going on in a silent film.  Actors had to be overly expressive in their movements and facial expressions to get certain points across.  Subtitles were sparingly used.  The music in the background of a silent film was all important and went a long way in helping to tell the story.

            The Artist is a silent film about…silent films, starring Jean Dujardin as George Valentin, a silent film superstar.  A chance encounter with dancer/actress Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo), working as an extra on one of his films, leads to an affair.  But as the death of silent films appears eminent with the introduction of sound to the movie industry, Valentin sees his star declining while his lover’s is on the rise.  Can their love survive this sudden twist of fate?

            The musical score of The Artist was created by French composer and arranger Ludovic Bource, who began his career in composition by creating musical scores for Michel Hazanavicius (the director of The Artist).  Since then, he has composed musical scores for movie shorts such as Spartacus and Sirene Song, the documentary Here to Stay and the OSS 117 films. 

            Obviously, being a silent film, the musical score for The Artist would be a star player in the storytelling process.  Thus, the musical score takes center stage.  Ludovic Bource decided that his musical score would be “a tribute, a declaration of love to the great composers of great Hollywood films.”  In order to tell the story, each scene must be carefully paid attention to.  The music must accurately reflect the moods of the characters and the atmosphere they find themselves in.  Hazanavicius and Bource examined films in the 20s, looking for ways in which the film music created the mood in each scene. 

            Performed by the Flanders Philharmonic Orchestra, featuring 80 musicians, including 50 string players, 4 French horns, 4 trombones, 5 percussionists and a harpist, the music of the soundtrack is more than just a symphonic performance.  As the mood changes, the style of the composition changes.  Thus, each of the 24 tracks found on The Artist Soundtrack has a very different sound, sometimes big band, sometimes romantic, sometimes comedic, always captivating.

            Listening to the music of The Artist, I was immediately propelled back to my childhood watching old Laurel and Hardy, Charlie Chaplin and more.  I found myself smiling throughout the 77 minutes worth of music created in homage to the great silent film composers of Hollywood past.  I loved the music of the Roaring 20s, especially that of Jubilee Stomp, a fun dance track.  For the perfect example of how a musical score can tell the story of a movie, look no further than The Artist Soundtrack.


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