Youth Without Youth

Musical Score By: Osvaldo Golijov

Songs By: Various Artists

Distributed by: Deutsche Grammophon

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            Based upon the novella by Romanian author Mercea Eliade, Youth Without Youth is the first Frances Ford Coppola directed film since 1997.  The movie is set in Romania on the eve of World War II and centers around a 70-year-old linguistic professor Dominic Matei (Tim Roth), who is struck by lightening and miraculously restored to his youthful self.  When the Third Reich discovers this miracle has occurred, they seek to harness what they believe is superhuman powers for their own use.  Thus, Dominic finds himself on the run.  In his travels, he meets and falls in love with Veronica, a woman who has had a similar experience with lightning, except the effect of the lightning strike has caused Veronica to be conscious of her past lives.

            Selected to compose the soundtrack of Youth Without Youth is Osvaldo Golijov, an Argentinian-born composer of Romanian and Ukrainian descent.  Raised on chamber music, Jewish liturgical and klezmer music, Osvaldo Golijov’s composition is often influenced by these styles.  Golijov has been called the “composer of the moment” by the Boston Globe and is known for his award-nominated composition of the soundtrack of The Man Who Cried, amongst numerous other works, such as operas, cello concertos, chamber music and more.

            The movie being the period piece that it is, the soundtrack of Youth Without Youth contains music of a nostalgic quality.  Performed by the Bucharest Metropolitan Orchestra and using such instruments as the Romanian cimbalom, the accordion and the Persian bowed instrument known as the kamancheh, the music has an exotic quality as well.  The music defines scenes in the film as evident in Dominic’s Nightmare and Veronica’s Nightmare in which the use of stringed instruments is employed to create the feeling of confusion and horror of a nightmare.  Dr. Rudolf’s Suicide through me for a loop when, in the midst of very dramatic music, a gunshot erupts causing me to jump.  Obviously a gun is Dr. Rudolf’s weapon of choice with which to end his life.

            I loved the use of two particular songs from the era – O Alba Tigareta Parfumata and Noapte Buna Mimi.  I particularly enjoyed O Alba Tigareta Parfumata in that it begins with the skipping sound of a victrola, followed by the scratchy sounds of a song as if it were actually being played on a victrola, and finally, the skipping sounds winding down as the victrola itself winds down after the song has ended.  What an amazingly clever way of recreating the time period for the listener.

            The soundtrack of Youth Without Youth is so beautifully composed that it is perfect as a stand alone album, let alone a movie soundtrack.  This soundtrack will be a perfect addition to the collection of any music aficionado.


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